How the Secrets of Battlefield Acupuncture Can Help Us Wage War on Trauma

How the Secrets of Battlefield Acupuncture Can Help Us Wage War on Trauma

Dec 21, 2022 | Acupuncture

Ancient Chinese Medicine dates back nearly 8,000 years. But did you know? For centuries, acupuncture has also been used to help soldiers in the heat of battle.

An early form of battlefield acupuncture is believed to have been used in the 1860s on the fields of the Civil War. At the time, medical care was rudimentary, at best, and pain medications were non-existent. And so, there are many references to doctors turning to acupuncture to help ease the pain of soldiers who had been wounded in battle.

But it wasn’t until 2001 that Dr. Richard Niemtzow, a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps, developed a specialized form of acupuncture based on traditional practices.

Dr. Niemtzow had been trained in traditional Chinese medicine and saw the potential for using acupuncture to treat soldiers who had been exposed to combat trauma.

Niemtzow’s treatment involved the insertion of five very thin needles into specific points on the ear, which he had studied and knew to be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including pain, anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

Throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Niemtzow’s battlefield acupuncture was used to provide soldiers with immediate relief from acute or chronic pain and stress while fostering ongoing healing – all without the need for narcotics or the restrictions that came with them.

Today, BFA has emerged as a safe, drug-free way to offer significant relief for those suffering from trauma in all walks of life.

How It Works

The theory behind BFA – a form of Auricular Therapy, or “ear acupuncture” – is that the points of the ear used in the treatment are connected to different areas of the body via energy channels known as meridians.

By stimulating these points with special semi-permanent gold or stainless-steel needles (up to 5 per ear), stagnant energy is unblocked, and the flow of Qi (life energy) is encouraged throughout the body. This helps to reduce pain, improve sleep, and alleviate stress and anxiety.

Needles used in BFA remain in place for a predetermined period so that the patient receives a continuous benefit. Treatment can be used alone or in conjunction with other methods, such as psychotherapy or medication.

While a relatively new treatment modality, BFA has already been the subject of a great deal of research that documented its efficacy.

A study conducted by the Veterans Health Administration examined more than 11,000 VA patients receiving BFA and found that more than 75 percent reported some immediate reduction in pain intensity following treatment. Another study by the Department of Veterans Affairs found a significant decrease in pain in 82% of patients, on average.

There is also evidence to suggest that BFA can be an effective treatment for civilians who have experienced trauma and has been associated with a reduction in anxiety and an increase in quality-of-life measures.

If you are suffering from acute or chronic trauma, Resilient Health Acupuncture can help you find relief. Our practitioners implement battlefield acupuncture methods that have been effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and more. If you are interested in exploring this option further, reach out to our office to learn more and schedule an appointment.