Acupuncture Reduces Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms
A pilot study using acupuncture to treat PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 2007 jun;195(6):504-13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17568299
Acupuncture was compared with a no-treatment wait list and with treatment using cognitive-behavioral group therapy. Acupuncture resulted in significant symptom improvement comparable to the group therapy outcome. Results were measured by comparing self-reported symptom improvement before and after treatment and at a three month post treatment followup.
One of the most frequent effects of acupuncture experienced by clients and seen in the clinic is relaxation and improved sense of wellbeing. This is often accompanied by an altered response to symptoms whereby they seem less to intrude on wellbeing. Realtime MRI studies often confirm such subjective changes objectively. Reduction of sympathetic nervous system hypersensitivity (flight or fight reactivity) is also a proven acupuncture effect.
Though this small study does suggest the usefulness of acupuncture for a difficult to treat condition, it is unlikely that PSTD could be cured by acupuncture treatment. It does support the adjunctive use of acupuncture which may well enable reduction of medication and so of side-effects and enhancement of other therapies. As with any chronic medical condition treatment would need to be intensive at the beginning, tapering off to every 2 or 3 weeks then perhaps with occasional booster treatments at larger intervals.
Thomas Martin LAc.