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PTSD Professional Perspective: Integrative Medicine and Post Trauma Response

Posted Oct 15 2010 4:49am

PTSD recovery journeys most often require more than one modality. In fact, I have yet to meet anyone who did it all through one standard technique. Usually we make a sort of recovery stew with a little of this modality and a little of that until we find the combination that moves us forward. Do you feel relaxed and refreshed at the end of a therapy session? If not, read on for some ideas that could change your therapeutic experience.

Martha Densmore, RN

By Martha Densmore, RN, L.Ac.

The current epidemic of PTSD among American troops and war veterans is huge and growing. The June 2008 Time Magazine article, “Prozac, The Military’s Secret Weapon”, pushed the issue into mainstream awareness. After reading the article and listening to a young Iraq War veteran on the radio saying how hard it was to get help for PTSD from the V.A., I founded the charity, Iraq Rose Inc., to advance holistic healing for vets suffering from PTSD and to combat the problem of PTSD misinformation, especially the experimental use of medications for PTSD treatment. Our clinic program is LAVA, Los Angeles Veterans Acupuncture. As an RN and acupuncturist using east-west medicine approaches, I aim to advance for military service members and veterans the opportunity to experience the profound healing of natural medicine and one’s own mind-body-spirit connection.

At LAVA we treat vets in groups. This creates camaraderie, a hedge against isolation. Where possible the practitioners also participate by practicing the healing techniques such as yoga right along with the group. I call this “the circle approach” where we learn and share in the gifts of healing. We operate LAVA clinic in a classroom space kindly donated by Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine in Santa Monica, Ca.

To me, integrative medicine is about blending healing modalities and the skills of practitioners like a fine meal or colors in a painting. Finding healers with integrity and compassion has been the key. I encourage each healer to bring their unique contribution, artistic approach, and experience. The same is true for our patients. By listening carefully to our patients and sharing in their stories we build a new kind of space for safety, exploration, and trust. In my experience it makes a huge impact when you participate actively in your treatment and practice self-care on a regular basis. At LAVA we support self-care by co-creating a strategy with each veteran for best match stress reduction techniques. And we also promote other community resources.

In clinic sessions we start with yoga, qi gong, and or deep breath- work. This includes various mixes of visualization, affirmation, mantras, meditation, and music. Yoga and stretch designed for relaxation is taught by a professional instructor and lasts up to an hour or longer. After yoga, vets get to kick back and rest in a receptive mode during acupuncture. Points are selected to heal each unique individual, to balance their energy. Alpha-Stim, a micro-current modality is offered. The gentle pulsed currents via earlobe clip-ons create alpha brain waves which reduce stress and promote relaxation. We are thankful to Electro-Medical Products Intl. in Texas for providing LAVA with these devices, the only machine of its kind FDA qualified to treat depression, insomnia, anxiety, and pain! The VA at this time refuses to cover any of this therapy for PTSD. Instead, veterans diagnosed with PTSD are given a small monetary stipend and free unlimited medications of various kinds as the V.A. treatment of choice.

While the tiny acupuncture needles are in place, aromatherapy is added next. Each oil blend is chosen for a specific use through its benefit is far reaching: body-mind-emotions-spirit.  Practitioners and patients alike love the oils donated by the D. Gary Young Foundation. There are many active properties in the blends and we use the oils for stress symptoms and physical issues. Thieves, a cinnamon and rosemary blend, is popular with our male clients for cutting through intrusive thought patterns. It is an exquisite formulation. Aromatherapy is an opportunity for patients and practitioners to mutually benefit as beautiful scents waft in the room. We finish off acupuncture sessions with moxibustion, an ancient form of warming the acu-points via herbal smoke. Light elegant smoke and the warmth from moxibustion is another dimension of subtle yet powerful calm healing energy.

At finish, everyone is relaxed and refreshed at the same time! The energy in the room is completely transformed. The power of group ritual and shared healing is potent when guided by experienced healers. We are honored to feature the work of gifted healers at LAVA. Many vets are weaning off medications as they are exposed to new natural methods for recovery.  I especially appreciate the gratitude and trust we earn from making a difference in the lives of war veterans. Healing is an art as much as it is science when it comes to issues around PTSD and trauma. The vets are often perplexed as to which particular modality is the one responsible for their progress and change. Together we shrug our shoulders and smile because the important thing is getting results safely. In my own practice I integrate and promote mystery when it is practical to do so. Mystery is the foundation of nature’s indefinable unlimited power.

Martha Densmore is an R.N. and acupuncturist practicing in Los Angeles. Her many certifications include Reiki healing, The Radiance Technique, and aromatherapy. Martha has trained and worked with master healers from around the globe. For over twenty years Martha has shared expertise as a pioneer in healthcare, east-west medicine, acupuncture, exercise fitness, and holistic nursing. She is the founder and CEO of Iraq Rose Inc., a CA. based 501c3 non-profit charity which provides acupuncture and holistic healing to military service members and war veterans through clinic services in Los Angeles. Iraq Rose has a national PTSD, PTR (post trauma response) education campaign which includes complementary medicine for healing mind-body trauma.

The opinions in this post are solely those of the author. To contribute to ‘Professional Perspective’ contact Michele .

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