Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not new in the medical society; in fact it has gone through many name changes for the past 140 years before settling down with its current moniker.
PTSD dates back to the time of the American civil war. Such condition was then called Da Costa’s syndrome among US war veterans. Fifty years passed and the British troops called the mental manifestations of life-threatening experiences of soldiers in the battlefield as “shell shock”.
Through the years, from one battle to another, the disorder also morphed from one name to the next, from “battle fatigue” to “operational exhaustion” and to its current name, which is PTSD. By mid-20th century, the ancient Chinese healing form acupuncture was considered as a possible alternative therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder as the condition now expands to traumatic experiences not only limited within the war zone but also in other tragic situations such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters, violent personal attacks, and vehicular accidents.
The University of New Mexico worked on a two-year study wherein researchers were tasked to dig deeper into the possibilities of applying acupuncture to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
The National Institutes of Health shelled out $250,000 to fund the study with hopes that if acupuncture can be proven effective in treating PTSD, it will pave way for the successful integration of eastern medical principles with western approaches toward treating post-traumatic stress disorder.
The study aims to attain three goals, first of which is to determine if acupuncture can be an effective alternative therapy for patients with PTSD, next is to see how effective is acupuncture against conventional treatments, and lastly, to help determine the diagnostic patterns for PTSD patients.
The post-traumatic stress disorder study program allocated 12 weeks for patients to undergo a treatment program. The patients were grouped in three, with one group acting as a waiting list and will not be treated with acupuncture during the entire duration of the study, the second group will receive conventional treatments and cognitive behavioral therapy, and the third group will be receiving acupuncture treatments throughout the allotted 12-week treatment period.
The group receiving acupuncture treatments will have two sessions per week during the treatment program. Each session will last for an hour, which will consist of 15 needle insertions and manipulation. Acupuncture seeds will also be placed on the acupuncture points in the outer ear.
As of this writing, 17 patients have already completed the treatment program and with 29 others still undergoing observations at various stages of the treatment period. However, based on preliminary observations on the patients who have already completed their treatment session, the acupuncture treatments seem to be working favorably with the patients feeling lesser pain compared to those who are receiving conventional therapies and those who have received no treatments at all.
After the completion of the study, another study program is being developed on the pipeline and this time on how to successfully integrate acupuncture with other behavioral therapy for the sole purpose of treating patients with post-traumatic stress disorder.
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