(NaturalNews) A newly released study has found that healing touch, in combination with guided imagery (HT+GI) provides dramatic clinical reductions in post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, symptoms for military personnel who have been exposed to combat.
The results of the study, published in the September issue of Military Medicine, described "healing touch" as an energy-based treatment that is non-invasive and aims to restore and balance the human "biofield" to help decrease pain and produce an environment conducive to 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," according to Scripps Health.
Guided imagery is a way of utilizing the imagination to help a person reduce stress, decrease pain and enhance overall well-being through visual assistance. In the study, "guided imagery was administered to the subjects through a recorded CD simultaneously with Healing Touch and then listed to independently by subjects at least once daily," Scripps said.
Treatment is highly successful
Most U.S. forces have left Iraq and the war in Afghanistan is winding down. During the previous decade, millions of U.S. troops served in one theater or the other - or, many times, both. Such a large number of troops exposed to combat have led to a dramatic increase in cases of PTSD.
The report found; however, that patients who were treated with the HT+GI formula showed substantial improvement in their quality of life, including reduced incidents of depression and cynicism, in comparison to soldiers who received normal PTSD treatment.
The study was led by the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego, Calif., and it involved a randomized, controlled trial of returning active-duty Marines at Camp Pendleton, located nearby. The study was conducted from July 2008 to August 2010.
Participants were separated into a pair of random groups - one that received treatment as usual for PTSD and another that received treatment as usual combined with HT+GI, a practitioner-based treatment that seeks to elicit the participant's own healing response combined with "a self-care therapy aimed at eliciting relaxation as well as enhancing trust and self-esteem," said Scripps.
The study involved 123 participants, 55 who received treatment as usual and 68 who received the regular regimen combined with HT+GI. In order to qualify for the trial, researchers first confirmed that participants were indeed experiencing at least one of several PTSD symptoms, including the re-experience of trauma via flashbacks, nightmares, exaggerated emotional responses, intrusive thoughts, insomnia and irritability, exaggerated startle response, or avoidance of people or places that reminded them of the trauma.
PTSD is a Pentagon priority
"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."
After six sessions within a three-week time period, the HT+GI group reported significant improvement in PTSD symptoms, Scripps said.
"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."
Treating PTSD is a Pentagon priority. Last month the Defense Department announced $100 million in research funding "to improve diagnosis and treatment of mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder," the Pentagon said in a press release.
"PTSD and mTBI are two of the most prevalent injuries suffered by our warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan, and identifying better treatments for those impacted is critical," said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Dr. Jonathan Woodson.