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Angelina Jolie's Bell's Palsy Diagnosis Sparks Questions About Natural Treatment Options

During a wide ranging interview with Vanity Fair, Angelina Jolie discussed the recent physical and emotional challenges she has faced.  Her health has been the subject of discussion before. In 2013, Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy, as she carries a hereditary gene mutation associated with breast and ovarian cancer. In this past year, marked by a highly publicized divorce from Brad Pitt, she has confronted a number of new health issues including Bell’s palsy. 

Bell’s palsy is a neurological condition that causes temporary facial paralysis due to inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve, also known as the facial nerve. This nerve is responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and the muscles that allow you to perform common face-related actions, such as blinking, chewing and projecting emotional expressions.

Experts generally agree that Bell’s palsy is caused by various microbes entering the cranial nerve. Since Bell’s palsy can be caused by various bacteria and viruses, there’s a chance that you can develop it if you have an ongoing infection, such as the flu or a cold. The microbe can enter your Fallopian canal, causing inflammation and temporary paralysis. Other factors that can put you at risk of Bell’s palsy include:



Cold sores and genital herpes 

Chickenpox (varicella zoster) and shingles (herpes zoster)

Mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr)

Cytomegalovirus infections (Herpesviridae family)2

Respiratory illnesses (adenovirus)

German measles (rubella)

Mumps (mumps virus)

Flu (influenza B)

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (coxsackievirus)

Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium)3


Although celebrities as disparate as Pierce Brosnan, George Clooney and Jim Ross have recovered from Bell’s palsy, it is obvious how this diagnosis could pose serious problems for an actress. In a profession where emotive expressions are stock in trade, the inability to control facial muscles could seriously curtail acting opportunities.

Jolie credits her recovery to acupuncture. It is worth noting that the conventional treatment of Bell’s palsy relies on corticosteroid medication. These drugs can have side effects such as stomach problems, weight gain and increased risk of depression, so I do not recommend them.

Vitamin B12 is often recommended in conjunction with acupuncture when treating Bell’s palsy naturally. In a study published in Neural Regeneration Research, researchers noted that combining the two can help prevent incomplete recovery, as compared to acupuncture alone.

There are other home remedies that may speed your recovery from Bell’s palsy. Physical therapy is crucial if you have some form of facial paralysis. It can help prevent muscles from weakening and shrinking, helping maintain your facial structure while you recover.

Another drug free approach is mime therapy. This form of therapy involves practicing miming techniques to help improve your recovery. In a study conducted in the Netherlands, patients with facial paralysis who practiced a combination of massages, relaxation techniques and facial expression exercises had a noted improvement in their facial symmetry in just three months.

On the dietary front, consumption of foods rich in various B vitamins is generally recommended to help maintain a healthy nervous system, and may even reduce your risk of brain shrinkage and Alzheimer’s disease. Recommended foods include pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught fish and dark leafy greens.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, you may be surprised to know that most cases do not require treatment at all. There’s a good chance you can fully recover within weeks’ or months’ time. However, that doesn’t mean you should just leave your condition untreated.