Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Benefit from Free Accupuncture

02/12/08  Portland, Ore

OHSU physician teams with acupuncturist to start Portland Veterans Acupuncture Project

Diane Miller, M.D., and Rick De Troye, both licensed acupuncturists (LAC) recently joined forces to form the Portland Veterans Acupuncture Project free clinic to help local veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The acupuncture project treats patients during hour-long sessions in a group setting using ear acupuncture. The free clinic treats an average of 10 patients every Thursday evening at a church in southeast Portland, but Miller says they have the resources to expand.

“Patients typically see benefits immediately, but resolution of symptoms usually requires a few months,” Miller said. 

Acupuncture may be effective for reducing symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety and insomnia in people diagnosed with the disorder, according to a study published in the June 2007 issue of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA, found that more than 30 percent of veterans returning from war in Iraq and Afghanistan may suffer from PTSD.

“Often veterans are reluctant to admit their symptoms or to seek care,” said Miller, an assistant professor of anesthesiology and peri-operative medicine in the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, and staff anesthesiologist at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Common symptoms include nightmares, sleeping problems, flashbacks, depression, guilt, substance abuse, sexual dysfunction, difficulty controlling anger, emotional detachment, difficulty concentrating, irritability, anxiety or difficulty thinking. Any of these symptoms make civilian life readjustment difficult, and there can be significant consequences like family and marital problems, employment problems, substance abuse problems and frequent physical ailments.

While treating a patient who recently returned from combat, Miller realized a lack of acupuncture options in the community to which he could be directed for help. So, Miller joined with De Troye, who specializes in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, to form the Portland Veterans Acupuncture Project.  

“Patients have hope, they sleep better and they’re just better at dealing with life,” Miller says. “After treatment they are not the same people that they were before.”

To contact the Portland Veterans Acupuncture Project email PVAP3@yahoo.com

About OHSU
Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university, and its only academic health center. OHSU is Portland’s largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), with more than 12,400 employees. As a leader in research, OHSU earned $307 million in research funding in fiscal year 2007. OHSU serves as a catalyst for the region’s bioscience industry and is an incubator of discovery, averaging one new breakthrough or innovation every 2.7 days, with more than 4,100 research projects currently under way. OHSU disclosed 132 inventions in 2007 alone, and OHSU research has resulted in 33 startup companies since 2000, most of which are based in Oregon.