Patients with Bell palsy who received acupuncture that achieves de qi, a type of intense stimulation, had improved facial muscle recovery, reduced disability and better quality of life, according to a randomized controlled trial published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Bell palsy is sudden onset of facial paralysis that is usually temporary, resolving within weeks or months, although it can sometimes be permanent.
Acupuncture is used to treat a variety of conditions and is gaining acceptance worldwide. De qi is a combination of sensations stimulated by manipulation of acupuncture needles - soreness, tingling, coolness, warmth and others radiating at the insertion points - but has not been validated by randomized controlled trials.
"There is a long-held belief in the traditional theory and clinical practice of acupuncture that the intensity of the stimulus must reach a threshold to elicit de qi, which plays a pivotal role in achieving the best therapeutic effects," writes Dr. Wei Wang, Department of Neurology, Key Laboratory of Neurological Diseases of Chinese Ministry of Education, Wuhan, Hubei, China, with coauthors.