New study shows PTSD symptoms reduced in combat-exposed military via integrative medicine

September 24, 2012

Healing touch combined with guided imagery (HT+GI) provides significant clinical reductions in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms for combat-exposed active duty military, according to a study released in the September issue of Military Medicine.

The report finds that patients receiving these complementary medicine interventions showed significant improvement in quality of life, as well as reduced depression and cynicism, compared to soldiers receiving treatment as usual alone.

The study, led by the Scripps Center for in San Diego, Calif., conducted a of returning active-duty Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calif. from July 2008 to August 2010. Participants were separated at random into two groups, one that received treatment as usual (TAU) for PTSD and another that received TAU as well as healing touch (HT), a practitioner-based treatment aimed at eliciting the participant's own healing response, with guided imagery (GI), a self-care therapy aimed at eliciting relaxation as well as enhancing trust and self-esteem.

Significant Improvements Reported

After six sessions within a three-week period with a Scripps practitioner, the HT+GI group reported a significant improvement in PTSD symptoms as a result of these combined complementary therapies.

The and designers of the study are Dr. Mimi Guarneri and Rauni King, founders of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. The Samueli Institute of Alexandria,Va., conducted blind data analysis and authored the manuscript.

"Scores for PTSD symptoms decreased substantially, about 14 points and below the clinical cutoffs for PTSD," said Dr. Guarneri. "This indicates that the intervention was not just statistically significant, but actually decreased symptoms below the threshold for PTSD diagnosis. It made a large difference in reducing PTSD symptoms."

Study Criteria

The study included a total of 123 participants – 55 who received TAU and 68 who received HT+GI and TAU. To be eligible for the trial, participants were screened to confirm that they were currently experiencing at least one of the following PTSD symptoms: re-experiencing of trauma via flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, exaggerated emotional responses to trauma, emotional numbness, insomnia, irritability, exaggerated startle response, or avoidance of people or places that remind them of the trauma.

"Service members are seeking out non-drug complementary and integrative medicine as part of their overall care and approach to wellness," said Wayne B. Jonas, MD, president and chief executive officer of Samueli Institute. "This treatment pairs deep relaxation with a self-care approach that can be used at home .The results of this study underscore the need to make effective, non-stigmatizing treatments for PTSD available to all our service members."

Healing Touch and Guided Imagery

Healing touch is an energy-based, non-invasive treatment that restores and balances the human biofield to help decrease pain and promote healing. Healing touch is often used as an adjunct to surgery and other medical procedures to assist in pain reduction, decrease anxiety and elicit relaxation.

Guided imagery is a way of using the imagination to help a person, reduce stress, decrease pain and enhance overall well-being through visualization. For the purposes of this study, guided imagery was administered to the subjects through a recorded CD simultaneously with and then listed to independently by subjects at least once daily.

Explore further: Cancer patients suffer PTSD years after diagnosis

More information: "Healing Touch with Guided Imagery for PTSD in Returning Active Duty Military: A Randomized Controlled Trial", Military Medicine.

Related Stories

Cancer patients suffer PTSD years after diagnosis

October 14, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Even after surviving cancer treatment, a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports that many cancer patients suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, that can worsen as ...

PTSD psychotherapy is enhanced with D-cycloserine

June 4, 2012
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is among the most common, distressing, and disabling medical consequences of combat or other extremely stressful life events. The first-line treatment for PTSD is exposure therapy, a type ...

Use of antipsychotics for reducing military-related chronic PTSD symptoms does not appear effective

August 2, 2011
Patients with military-related, chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and symptoms that were not improved with use of an antidepressant medication did not experience a reduction in PTSD symptoms with use of the antipsychotic ...

Chronic post-traumatic stress disorder in women linked to history of rape, child abuse

November 29, 2011
A Florida State University clinical psychologist has identified factors that could cause some women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to have chronic, persistent symptoms while others recover naturally over time.

Marijuana blocks PTSD symptoms in rats: study

September 20, 2011
Marijuana administered in a timely fashion could block the development of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in rats, a new study conducted at Haifa University has found.

Post-traumatic stress disorder common following significant orthopedic trauma

May 9, 2011
Although most commonly associated with military combat, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur in civilians, too – and with consequences that are just as serious, according to a new review article in the Journal ...

Recommended for you

Scientists researching drugs that could improve brain function in people with schizophrenia

October 12, 2017
Virginia Commonwealth University researchers are testing if drugs known as HDAC inhibitors improve cognition in patients with schizophrenia who have been treated with the antipsychotic drug clozapine.

Researchers find a fine timeline between delusion and reality

October 12, 2017
The line between reality and delusion may be just a matter of time, a new Yale study suggests.

Virtual humans work better than current ways to identify post-traumatic stress in soldiers

October 12, 2017
Soldiers are more likely to open up about post-traumatic stress when interviewed by a virtual interviewer than by taking a survey, finds a study published today in open-access journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI. A computer-generated ...

Women seen as younger when eyes, lips and eyebrows stand out

October 11, 2017
Aspects of facial contrast, a measure of how much facial features stand out in the face, decrease with age in women across a variety of ethnic groups, finds a study in open access journal Frontiers in Psychology. The study ...

Voice-only communication more accurate than visual cues for identifying others' feelings, study says

October 10, 2017
If you want to know how someone is feeling, it might be better to close your eyes and use your ears: People tend to read others' emotions more accurately when they listen and don't look, according to research published by ...

Experts call for more rigor, less hype, for mindfulness and meditation

October 10, 2017
Dependable scientific evidence has lagged worrisomely behind the rapid and widespread adoption of mindfulness and meditation for pursuing an array of mental and physical wellness goals, wrote a group of 15 experts in a new ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PCB
not rated yet Sep 25, 2012
The placebo effect is amazing, because "Healing Touch" was debunked...
http://en.wikiped...ic_touch

(For a chuckle, read the linked article: Debunked by a 9-year old girl - the youngest research team member to have a paper accepted by the Journal of the American Medical Association.)
Anne7600
not rated yet Sep 30, 2012
I was just reading the same research at Belleruth Naparstek's HealthJourneys website. I am excited that guide imagery and healing touch therapy have been shown to be effective. Hopefully, it will give PTSD sufferers more options for dealing with symptoms, especially since these therapies can be used alone or with other therapies to help treat PTSD.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.