Many U.S. military personnel suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A new research study indicates Healing Touch energy work combined with guided imagery provides significant clinical reductions in PTSD symptoms for combat-exposed active duty military, according to a Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine press release.

“Scores for PTSD symptoms decreased substantially, about 14 points and below the clinical cutoffs for PTSD,” said investigator Mimi Guarneri, M.D. “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.”

To be eligible for the trial, participants were screened to confirm that they were currently experiencing at least one of the following PTSD symptoms: re-experiencing of trauma via flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, exaggerated emotional responses to trauma, emotional numbness, insomnia, irritability, exaggerated startle response, or avoidance of people or places that remind them of the trauma.

After six sessions within a three-week period with a Scripps practitioner, the healing touch/guided imagery group reported a significant improvement in PTSD symptoms as a result of these combined complementary therapies.

Healing touch is an energy-based, non-invasive treatment that restores and balances the human biofield to help decrease pain and promote healing. Guided imagery is a way of using the imagination to help a person, reduce stress, decrease pain and enhance overall well-being through visualization.

This randomized controlled trial of returning active-duty Marines at Camp Pendleton, California, was conducted from July 2008 to August 2010, according to the press release.

Participants were separated at random into two groups, one that received treatment as usual for PTSD and another that received TAU as well as healing touch and guided imagery.

The report finds that patients receiving these complementary medicine interventions showed significant improvement in quality of life, as well as reduced depression and cynicism, compared to soldiers receiving treatment as usual alone.

The study, “Healing Touch with Guided Imagery for PTSD in Returning Active Duty Military: A Randomized Controlled Trial” was conducted by Scripps and Samueli Institute, and published in the September 2012 issue of Military Medicine.

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