Acupuncture shown to help veterans with PTSD in Norfolk study

Stock photo of acupuncture being performed. Photo: Adrian Judd

Stock photo of acupuncture being performed. Photo: Adrian Judd - Credit: copyright Archant 2007

The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture has been shown to help veterans deal with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a Norfolk research study.

Healthwatch Norfolk, the consumer champion for health and social care, published the results from the study this week, and all of those who took part had no symptoms of PTSD by the end.

Some 21 veterans from Norfolk took part in the research, with each receiving six sessions of acupuncture from Norwich based charity, Stand Easy, who offer free treatment to veterans with PTSD across Norfolk.

The 12-month study observed a significant reduction in both symptoms of PTSD and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Some 90pc of the veterans observed before treatment displayed symptoms so severe that they were classified as having PTSD, but not one of the same group were classified as having PTSD following six weeks of treatment.

All participants experienced a large improvement in their condition and limited evidence suggested that the benefits of acupuncture may be sustained over a longer period.

One of the veterans who participated in the study said: 'The acupuncturist made me feel very comfortable and helped me out of the mess I was in. I have tried other forms of treatment and if anything, they made my life harder.

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'Stand Easy really helped me to focus and with the help of the treatment I was able to start living a normal happy life again.'

General feedback showed that acupuncture was very acceptable compared to other treatments for PTSD.

Veterans praised the Stand Easy acupuncturist and found it useful that they did not have to talk about their thoughts and feelings.

In the United States, the military already use acupuncture to relieve pain and stress for troops both on and off the battlefield.

Edward Fraser, who led the project for Healthwatch Norfolk, said: 'The positive results that we observed were highly unusual and extremely impressive when compared to other studies. Whilst we acknowledge that our evaluation had a number of limitations, we believe that our results provide good evidence for the short-term effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for PTSD, justifying further research in this area.'

Naji Malak, co-founder of Stand Easy, added: 'Having worked with civilians and military personnel for more than 35 years, I firmly believe in acupuncture as an effective treatment for PTSD and the quick change it can bring out in people can be remarkable.

'We were pleased by the positive results of the evaluation and hope that the evidence will help more veterans come forward, as well as encouraging more healthcare professionals to recommend acupuncture as a treatment for PTSD.'