Beating Tourette's, Gaining Life

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Miss Arizona Credits Acupuncture With Helping Her Win Her Life Back

By Brenda Duran

At age 10, Miss America pageant hopeful Jennifer Smestad was a normal kid growing up in Arizona – until her body and brain began to turn on her. 

First came the head jerks, followed by involuntary facial gestures. Then came the onset of crippling anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Finally, Smestad acknowledged something was terribly wrong. 

"People would always ask me why I was making funny faces," recalled Smestad. "My parents decided to take me straight to the doctor to see what was wrong. They told me it was Tourette's."

Tourette's is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder, also associated with attention-deficit disorder / attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder / obsessive-compulsive disorder (ADD/ADHD/OCD), which is believed to be organic damage to the central nervous system.

Currently, there is no cure for Tourette's, no medication is known to work universally. There are also significant adverse effects with using Western medicine. 

Needless to say, the shocking diagnosis sent Smestad into a panic and desperate for a cure. 

"I got to the point that I was willing to do anything, even brain surgery," said Smestad. "It got so hard I even had thoughts of taking my own life after not wanting to go out in public."

Acupuncture Comes To The Rescue

But, before she made the decision to undergo brain surgery, a family friend referred her to local acupuncturist Jing Liu. With decades of experience, Liu offered a treatment plan that would nip Smestad's symptoms in the bud. Liu said that when she first saw Smestad she was struggling to focus and keep up her grades, and was the victim of bullies at school. 

"After I did a Chinese diagnosis and gave her an acupuncture treatment, I explained how acupuncture works and that gave Jenny a lot of courage," said Liu, who maintains a private practice in Scottsdale, Ariz. – the Eastern Medicine Center.

Courage is one thing Smestad needed a lot of. She said she had a crippling fear of needles and had little to no knowledge of how acupuncture worked, but was willing to try it despite being in the dark about the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

"I had been given so many prescription drugs – lots of them," said Smestad. "Nothing worked. I was willing to try acupuncture because I knew it was natural and I was exhausted."

Liu initially treated Smestad with a combination of Chinese herbs: Chai Hu Jia Long Gu Mu Li wan and Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan. She was giving Smestad treatment up to three times a week and saw results almost immediately. 

"After two months of treatment, she improved 70 percent," said Liu. "During this time, she did have one episode that came from stress with her school work and she did go backwards for a few days, but after another month of treatment she became a straight-A student again and was 90 percent better." 

Smestad's doubts about acupuncture quickly turned into confidence about the future.

"After my volleyball practice, my dad noticed I wasn't ticking after my first treatments," said Smestad. "After a couple of weeks, I noticed my anxiety also decreased."

{Click the link at the top to read the entire article at Acupuncture Today}

Karli Poage