by Ali Mafucci, who shares her story of how she recovered from Bell’s Palsy with acupuncture and rest.
Six months after birthing my son Luca, I woke up to a twitching sensation in my upper lip. I didn’t think much of it and went about my normal day, which meant a morning workout, meetings, and some recipe testing for my blog, Inspiralized.
When I hopped on my spin bike for a quick ride, that twitching in my upper lip turned to numbness. Sometimes I push myself really hard in my workouts, so I thought maybe it was just a little fatigue. I ended my workout early, showered, and got ready for my noon meeting. As I waited outside for my ride to arrive, I went to Instagram stories, sharing, “My lip feels numb, it must be a little reaction to something!”
“It’s Bell’s Palsy!”
DMs started to flood with tons of responses saying, “It’s Bell’s Palsy!” I had never heard of Bell’s Palsy and Googling that term led to pictures of paralyzed faces and frightening prognoses. I put my phone away, hopped into my car, and went to my meeting. Surely it wasn’t Bell’s Palsy…just a little allergic reaction, right?
During the meeting, my face began to droop, I had a little difficulty speaking, and my heart started racing. As a high-performing, overachieving person, I decided to push through and go to my lunch meeting to see if these symptoms would go away. At lunch, I truly started to worry, as I couldn’t purse my lips enough to sip through a straw.
My doctor’s appointment
I made an appointment to see a doctor that evening. By 3pm that day, half of my face went completely numb. At the doctor’s office, after a brief exam, he told me that I had Bell’s Palsy. He told me that they don’t know much about Bell’s Palsy, but that damage to the facial nerve causes it, and it usually happens as a reaction to a virus. He advised I get a test for Lyme disease and prescribed me a heavy steroid. As a nursing mother, I try to research how anything I ingest might affect my baby through my breast milk. The research about this particular steroid and breastfeeding was too limited for my comfort.
I felt alone, confused, scared, and honestly lost–I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t know anyone that had Bell’s Palsy, and any Internet search scared me. So, what’s a millennial to do? Go on Instagram stories! I immediately shared my diagnosis and asked my followers for help. The resounding response was, “Acupuncture!” And yes, I also got tested for Lyme Disease, which came up negative.
I had never done acupuncture before but I was willing to try anything. At this point, I couldn’t wink because half of my face was paralyzed, and the discomfort and pain from my dry eye was unbearable.
My acupuncture appointment
After doing some quick local research, I found an acupuncture center and went for my first appointment. The first appointment was a long assessment, where the acupuncturist took time to learn about me, my history, and my environment. I immediately felt at ease–it was like a mini therapy session! After having a cursory appointment with a general physician the day before who didn’t ask me any questions other than my symptoms, I felt hopeful.
After the assessment and some uncomfortable and painful needling, she gave me her diagnosis. I had put my body under way too much stress and my “blood” was diminished. My immune system suffered and let “wind” get through (Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that wind events cause Bell’s Palsy). The acupuncturist could clearly see that I put myself through a lot of stress: I had a young, nursing baby, I regularly did high intensity workouts, and I worked full-time.
Recovering from Bell’s Palsy with acupuncture
The acupuncturist recommended that I do the following to heal:
- Relax ☺
- Stop high intensity exercises
- Eat warm foods (avoid raw, cold foods)
- Gua sha massages daily
- Drink anti-inflammatory drinks (turmeric lattes, etc)
- Acupuncture sessions daily
I followed her protocol and four days into the acupuncture sessions, I could twitch the paralyzed side of my face. About 2.5-3 weeks later, my face looked 99% back to normal. My body did what it had to do and healed the rest of the way.
Advocate for yourself
Throughout my Bell’s Palsy journey, I learned so much about my body and my wellness. You can learn more about my experience on this blog post. I hope this story brings you hope if you’re currently struggling with a Bell’s Palsy diagnosis. In the end, I pursued the form of healing that made me the most comfortable, so work with your healthcare providers to find your solution. Advocate for yourself! And know this–once you get your smile back, you’ll smile brighter than ever.
Ali Maffucci is the founder of the culinary brand, Inspiralized, the ultimate resource for cooking creatively, healthfully, and deliciously with the Inspiralizer. The Inspiralizer turns vegetables and fruits into noodles.
In 2013, Ali quit her corporate job to pursue Inspiralized, starting first with her blog, Inspiralized.com. She is the author of three New York Times bestselling cookbooks; Inspiralized, Inspiralize Everything, and Inspiralized and Beyond. She provides daily free recipes on her blog and through her iOS mobile app. She currently lives in Jersey City, New Jersey with her husband and their two children. Connect with Ali on Instagram.
The contents of this article present the research and ideas of its author(s) on recovering from Bell’s Palsy with acupuncture and was created for informational purposes only. All information, content, and material on this website is for informational purposes and not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider. Consult with your qualified physician or healthcare provider before starting any diet, supplement regimen, or to determine the appropriateness of the information contained herein, or if you have any questions regarding pregnancy or your prenatal treatment plan. Thirty & Co, LLC disclaims responsibility for any adverse effects resulting directly or indirectly from any information contained on this website.