In 2017, Angelina Jolie gave a very telling interview with Vanity Fair, in which she talks about everything from the end of her marriage with Brad Pitt to her diagnosis of a condition called Bell’s palsy.
What is Bell’s palsy? It's a condition that temporarily causes the muscles on one side of the face to become weak or paralyzed (though it's unrelated to a stroke). It's usually the result of some sort of trauma or inflammation to the brain’s seventh cranial nerve (also called the facial nerve), but the exact cause can vary from person to person. In the interview, Jolie seemed to imply that her case may have been related to stress or a general lack of self-care. Of course, Jolie isn't alone—Bell's palsy affects more than 40,000 Americans a year.
The condition is usually treated with prednisone, a steroid that helps reduce inflammation and swelling. The symptoms normally subside within two weeks, and the face should be functioning normally again within three to six months.
Some of the alternative treatments for Bell's palsy include physical therapy and facial massages. Jolie personally credits acupuncture for relieving her symptoms. However, in Western medicine, although there is no conclusive evidence that shows that this healing modality can treat Bell's palsy, there is potential.
Regardless of that, Jolie has helped open up yet another conversation about personal health and wellness. She has been outspoken about her health journey in the past, from her preventative double mastectomy to ovary removal. For her candor, we have to say we're grateful for Ms. Jolie.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Bell's palsy fact sheet. Updated October 2, 2020.
Zhang R, Wu T, Wang R, Wang D, Liu Q. Compare the efficacy of acupuncture with drugs in the treatment of Bell's palsy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019;98(19):e15566. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000015566