by Khaled Allen

image via WSJ

If you think acupuncture is just for hippies and new age health nuts, you might want to reassess your view of the marines. The Navy has lately been experimenting with acupuncture to treat symptoms of PTSD, concussion, and other ailments associated with extreme physical stress.

Cmdr. Keith Stuessi, the man in charge of acupuncture at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, has used the ancient Chinese technique to treat more than 20 patients, with a shockingly high success rate.

Acupuncture is normally used to treat muscle aches and minor sprains. Its use as a treatment for brain injury and the mental and emotional problems of PTSD is relatively new in the military.

Considering the low cost and the great potential for providing relief to soldiers, however, the Navy is apparently pretty enthusiastic about it and has already committed itself to providing acupuncture as a standard method of treatment. The Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting studies on its effectiveness in treating symptoms like sleeplessness, memory problems, headaches, and anxiety.

The biggest problem with acupuncture seems to be getting around the soldiers’ fear of needles. Lance Cpl. Bell was reluctant to go for treatment to help his sleep after being injured from a bomb blast. Eventually, his sleeplessness and headaches became so bad that he was willing to try anything, and amazingly slept eight hours after his first treatment, twice as much as he’d been able to before.

Other soldiers would rather suck it up, it seems. Lance Cpl. Collins, in the same group as Bell and suffering from similar symptoms, doesn’t like the idea of being stuck with needles, and so has continued to decline treatment.

For more on the story, check out this article.

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