Angelina Jolie has always been incredibly forthright about her health struggles, and the actress just revealed another surprising diagnosis. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Jolie revealed she had Bell’s palsy. While she didn’t go as in-depth about her latest diagnosis as she did in her two New York Times op-ed pieces about her preventive double mastectomy in 2013 and her preventive oophorectomy (removal of ovaries) in 2015, the interview gave insight into the stressful year that Jolie has been having.
While perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Jolie’s Vanity Fair interview is her discussing what life has been like since she filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, the casual reference that she had Bell’s palsy, which caused one side of her face to droop, was something that the public hadn’t known about. As she explained:
As she filed for sole custody of her six children with Pitt — Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, Knox, and Vivienne — her being stressed and putting her own health last unfortunately makes a whole lot of sense.
Angelina told Vanity Fair that she recovered from the facial paralysis thanks to acupuncture.
If you aren’t familiar with Bell’s palsy, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) explains that it happens when damage is done to the facial nerves:
Bell’s palsy is not very common, with 40,000 Americans getting it each year, but the exact cause is not known. As for treatment, the severity of Bell’s palsy depends on the person, with mild cases going away on their own after two weeks. While Jolie did not reveal how long she dealt with partial facial paralysis, acupuncture is noted by NINDS to be able to potentially provide a small improvement in facial nerve function and pain.
Understanding Bell’s palsy helps explain why Jolie was so low-key about it in her interview — rather, she used her time with Vanity Fair to discuss her upcoming Netflix film, First They Killed My Father.
We’re thankful that this time around, Jolie’s medical condition was rather mild and that she’s back in the public eye after having what had to be a difficult year. And we know that we’ll be watching her film, First They Killed My Father, once it comes to Netflix.