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  • Writer's picturePatty McDuffey

How Veterans Benefit from Acupuncture

Acupuncture can effectively treat a wide variety of conditions and is increasingly gaining acceptance across the medical field as an important part of an integrative healthcare plan. For instance, since battlefield acupuncture treatments, consisting of an ear acupuncture protocol, began to be used at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the efficacy and importance of utilizing acupuncture as a part of one’s overall healthcare plan has become evident.

Most patients struggling with a chronic condition of any kind experience at least one of the following: pain, anxiety, depression, and/or stress. In an article published by the US Department of Veterans Affairs in 2021,, acupuncture was viewed as having the following benefits:

  • Reduced opioid use by controlling pain

  • Addiction recovery support

  • Chronic pain relief

  • Restores hope for recovery and the future

  • It’s a simple, safe modality

Conventional medicine can struggle to treat these very conditions that acupuncture can often treat successfully. There is now evidence to suggest that it can be beneficial in conditions related to trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Below are some of the ways in which acupuncture can support in the healing process:

Pain management

According to the CDC, chronic pain affects over 50 million adults in the US. Those who suffer from trauma frequently struggle with chronic pain conditions, such as musculoskeletal pain or headaches. Acupuncture has been found to have analgesic effects, treating pain via endogenous opioid release in the body. As a result, the body's natural pain-relieving mechanisms are activated.

Stress reduction

Acupuncture has been shown to have a calming effect on the nervous system. During a body’s stress response, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. Acupuncture down-regulates the hyper-active network nodes in the amygdala that fail to “switch off” during a fear/anxiety and stress response. Fifty percent of patients with anxiety and depression experience a chronic up-regulation of the sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as stress. Acupuncture can help regulate this stress response by stimulating the release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters that promote relaxation. This can be particularly helpful for veterans and others experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety related to their traumatic experiences.

Regulation of emotions

Trauma can disrupt the normal regulation of emotions, leading to symptoms such as irritability, anger, and emotional numbness. Acupuncture helps to rebalance the flow of energy in the body, which can have a positive impact on emotional well-being. It stimulates the release of certain neurotransmitters and hormones, which can positively influence mood and emotional stability.

Sleep improvement

Many with trauma struggle with sleep disturbances, including insomnia and nightmares. Acupuncture has been shown to improve sleep quality and quantity by promoting relaxation, reducing anxiety, and regulating the release of hormones involved in sleep-wake cycles.

Complementary approach

Acupuncture is often used as a complementary therapy alongside conventional treatments for trauma, such as psychotherapy and medication. It can enhance the effectiveness of these treatments by addressing additional symptoms, improving overall well-being, and providing a sense of control and empowerment over one's health.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be very helpful to many struggling with pain, anxiety, depression, and stress. If you’re curious to know if acupuncture is a good fit for you, please reach out and schedule a Complimentary Discovery CALL 541-420-9222 to discuss how to integrate acupuncture into a comprehensive treatment plan that includes other evidence-based therapies.

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