If you are of the belief that alternative medicine is practiced by quacks that are out to steal your money, you may find it surprising that the U.S. Department of Defense has earmarked several billion dollars for research into these healing methods for the benefit of veterans.
Researchers consider the results of some of these studies to be somewhat promising.
In 2008, the U.S. Army put up $4 million dollars to be used as grant money for research into alternative methods of healing such conditions as PTSD, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. (1)
The Pentagon has also dedicated $5 million to the study of alternative methods such as yoga, acupuncture and meditation for treating PTSD in veterans.
Early results showed that acupuncture was helpful in treating PSTD, pain and depression. (2)
Other Attempts at Alternative Treatments for Veterans
These were not the first attempts to find less than contemporary methods of treating PTSD. Research using acupuncture began as early as 2007. (3)
Complimentary and Alternative Medicine has also been studied to treat chronic pain. These studies were funded, in part, by the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Service and the U.S. Army Medical Command's Department of Clinical Investigation.
Results of the studies were mixed, but they did find that many alternative methods were useful in treating different types of pain. (4)
More recently in 2010, research was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on the effects of reiki on Acute Coronary Syndrome. (5)
This study showed reiki to benefit patients, but it was unclear if the benefits would be long-term.
The Department of Defense also recommended acupuncture as supplementary therapy to treat anxiety, pain, sleep problems and PTSD. It was also being used by field doctors to treat mild traumatic brain injuries. (6)
Currently, research is underway to test the value of meditation in the treatment of PTSD.
It has also been determined that acupuncture is promising in the treatment of PTSD, though more research is still needed on acupuncture as well as yoga. Overall, supporting evidence is sparse, but promising.
Because of these results, the VA is continuing to sponsor research into Complimentary and Alternative Medicine to treat U.S. soldiers who are suffering from these illnesses. (7)
(1) Army's New PSTD Treatments: Yoga, Reiki, Bioenergy
(2) Pentagon researches alternative treatments
(3) Acupuncture May Help Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
(4) Efficacy of selected complementary and alternative medicine interventions for chronic pain
(5) Effects of Reiki on Autonomic Activity Early After Acute Coronary Syndrome
(6) Acupuncture Makes Strides in Treatment of Brain Injuries, PTSD
(7) VA Research Projects on Complementary and Alternative Medicine