In 1918, the 11th month, the 11th day and the 11th hour marked the end of hostilities of WWI – a global conflict President Woodrow Wilson once called “The war to end all war.” The anniversary of that moment has become our federal holiday known as Veterans Day. Wilson’s idealism and optimism, that the sacrifices made would help ensure that no such clashes of world powers would happen again, has unfortunately proved wrong.
Since that day, countless soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have come back from our country’s conflicts as changed people. It may be an obvious disfigurement, but all-too-often, there are not-so-obvious psychological and emotional scars. In his book, Explaining Unexplained Illnesses, Martin Pall, PhD, offers that there may be some biochemical similarities with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other multisystem illnesses, such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. He states that, with these conditions, efforts are frequently made to categorize symptoms as mental or physical and in reality, they can be chemically all wound together. Traditional Chinese Medicine has always been about treating the “whole person” and can be rather complementary with other ongoing therapies.
In my own practice I’ve seen repeated examples of the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of PTSD. The typical treatment stimulates specific points in the body that help control nerve functioning and mitigate stress levels. Of course, point treatments are always customized to address individual needs.
The results throughout the country have certainly gained the attention of the U.S. military in recent years. In fact, the Veterans Clinic at the National University of Health Science (NUHS) Whole Health Center in Lombard, IL has provided close to 4,000 free acupuncture treatments to veterans and their families since 2010. In a recent Chicago Tribune article, Dr. Hyondo Kim (chief clinician at the NUHS Veterans Clinic) was quoted, saying "Since we began our free acupuncture for veterans five years ago, we've seen substantial improvement in patients with PTSD symptoms."
It is exciting to see that those responsible for the health of our veterans are increasingly open to the use of complementary and alternative therapies such as acupuncture. I hope you join me tomorrow in wishing our veterans good health and thanking them for their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.