Acupuncture For PTSD: How Acupuncture Helps

by | Feb 24, 2024 | Acupuncture

Acupuncture, an ancient practice deeply woven into the fabric of Chinese medicine, has journeyed across time and space to offer new hope for individuals battling PTSD. Imagine a technique as gentle as a whisper yet potent enough to soften the relentless surge of memories and stress that often entwine themselves around the lives of those contending with this complex condition.

At Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine, CA, Ryoko Takayama merges her profound knowledge with unwavering compassion during each session, helping patients find their way back to serenity and equilibrium.

Grasping the essence of PTSD is vital—it’s akin to walking through life with shadows from bygone traumatic events constantly trailing behind you. The spectrum of symptoms can extend from restless nights fraught with insomnia to crippling anxiety—each casting an unseen but palpable barrier against well-being.

But envision a scenario where needles no wider than strands of hair could gently nudge your body’s energy into alignment, aiding in toppling these barriers? That’s acupuncture for you: strategic insertions that hold the potential for deep-seated transformation.

Research underscores its effectiveness—unveiling how acupuncture can soothe restive spirits and provide comfort when conventional treatments don’t seem sufficient. With every precise point selected specifically for you, this therapy speaks volumes without uttering a word; it’s hardly surprising that many seek refuge in its subtle strength.

Are you intrigued by how such delicate touches might pave the path toward significant recovery? Let us delve deeper together..

Key Takeaways

  • Acupuncture for PTSD can regulate the brain and reduce anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks.
  • The treatment uses tiny needles to balance energy flow or ‘Qi’ in the body.
  • Studies show that acupuncture helps more than some drugs for treating PTSD.
  • It’s safe with very few risks when done by a professional like Ryoko Takayama.
  • Different types of acupuncture are used, such as traditional, electroacupuncture, and auricular.

Understanding PTSD

A lush forest with sunrays breaking through the trees in a cinematic setting.

PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder, is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing a traumatic event. Common symptoms of PTSD include recurring flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

It’s important to understand the impact of PTSD in order to explore effective treatment options like acupuncture for relief.

Feel free to use ellipses and dashes for a casual this—just keep it engaging!

Definition of PTSD

Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, happens after someone goes through something really scary. It doesn’t matter if they saw it themselves or just heard about it; the fear can stick around.

They might have bad dreams, feel super anxious all the time, or keep thinking about what happened over and over again. Some folks might stay away from places or people that remind them of those tough times because it’s too hard to deal with.

It’s tricky to know why some people get hit with PTSD and others don’t. Even kids can face this tough challenge. What we do know is that PTSD affects a person’s feelings and makes connecting with others really hard sometimes.

We also see how important it is not to leave these feelings hidden but instead look for ways like acupuncture to help heal inside out.

Common symptoms of PTSD

Now that we’ve covered what PTSD is, let’s dive into the common symptoms one might experience. Recognizing these signs can be crucial.


  • Repeatedly reliving the event: This could mean having nightmares or flashbacks where it feels like the trauma is happening all over again.
  • Avoiding reminders of the event: People may steer clear of places, events, or objects that trigger memories of the traumatic incident.
  • Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: Trust issues may develop, or one might feel numbness towards people they were once close to.
  • Hyperarousal: This involves being easily startled or feeling tense all the time, almost as if you need to be on constant alert for danger.

What is Acupuncture?

meditating after and acupuncture for ptsd treatment

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and relieve pain. It is based on the belief that energy, called qi, flows through the body along pathways known as meridians.

At Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine, CA, Ryoko Takayama specializes in using acupuncture to treat PTSD and other mental health conditions. To learn more about how acupuncture can benefit you or a loved one, visit

Origins of acupuncture

Acupuncture comes from a rich tradition of Chinese medicine. Thousands of years ago, healers in China believed that energy flowed through the body in pathways. They found that by inserting thin needles into specific points, they could influence this energy flow to improve health.

This practice evolved into what we now know as acupuncture.

We understand these pathways better today – they connect with our nervous system and various organs. By targeting them, acupuncture can help restore balance and prompt healing. Research shows that this ancient technique may even regulate the HPA axis, which is often disrupted in PTSD patients.

With each needle placed, it taps into the body’s own mechanisms for comfort and recovery.

Let’s dive deeper into how exactly acupuncture works within our bodies..

How acupuncture works

Transitioning from the ancient origins of acupuncture, let’s explore how this time-tested therapy operates. Picture tiny needles being placed at specific points on your body. These are not random spots; they’re mapped out pathways known as meridians.

The needles aim to balance your energy flow or ‘Qi’. Think of it as a reset button for your body’s natural state.

We see results because these needles can talk to our nervous system. They send signals that help calm the brain and ease stress. When targeting areas linked with PTSD, such as the limbic system and prefrontal cortex, acupuncture becomes more than just a tradition – it’s a tool for healing.

It tweaks key molecules in our brains like BDNF and reduces harm from stress hormones, giving us back control over our well-being.

The Role of Acupuncture in Treating PTSD

A tranquil landscape with acupuncture needles on a serene body of water.

Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine CA offers acupuncture treatment for PTSD patients. Ryoko Takayama, a qualified acupuncture practitioner, understands the theory behind acupuncture for PTSD and its application in alleviating symptoms and improving overall wellbeing.

To learn more about how acupuncture can help with PTSD, visit

The theory behind acupuncture for PTSD

Acupuncture for PTSD is based on the theory that it can modulate the autonomic nervous system and stimulate brain regions associated with emotional regulation, reducing anxiety, hyperarousal, and negative affect.

Acupuncture may also play a role in downregulating pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body and promoting the release of endorphins, ultimately alleviating PTSD symptoms. Additionally, acupuncture’s impact on neuroplasticity and neural circuits could contribute to reprogramming traumatic memory processing and interrupting the cycle of conditioned fear responses.

Furthermore, acupuncture has been shown to activate various biochemical pathways such as Keap1-Nrf2, leading to reduced oxidative stress and increased expression of neurotrophic factors like BDNF that are essential for neuronal function and mental health.

With this understanding in mind, incorporating acupuncture into PTSD treatment aims to address both the psychological and physiological aspects of trauma recovery while offering a holistic approach to healing individuals affected by PTSD.

The application of acupuncture for PTSD

Acupuncture is applied for PTSD to regulate brain areas, neuroendocrine systems, and signaling pathways.

Efficacy of Acupuncture in Treating PTSD

Acupuncture Treatment for PTSD

Numerous studies support the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating PTSD, and personal testimonies further validate its efficacy. Visit Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine, CA, led by licensed acupuncturist Ryoko Takayama, to learn more about how acupuncture can help alleviate symptoms of PTSD.

Studies supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture

Acupuncture for PTSD has been backed by numerous studies showcasing its effectiveness. Here’s what these studies reveal:

  1. Meta-analyses have consistently shown that acupuncture significantly improves symptom scores for PTSD compared to non-acupuncture treatments.
  2. Acupuncture outperforms pharmacotherapy treatment in improving symptom scores for PTSD, as evidenced by systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials.
  3. Clinical studies have confirmed the efficacy of both electroacupuncture (EA) and manual acupuncture (MA) in treating PTSD, providing flexibility in treatment options.
  4. It’s important to note that no serious adverse events related to acupuncture treatment were reported in the studies included in the meta-analysis, highlighting its safety profile.
  5. Commonly utilized acupoints such as GV20, GV24, GB20, and EX – HN1 have shown promising results in alleviating symptoms associated with PTSD.
  6. The majority of studies conducted in the last 10 years have consistently supported the effectiveness of acupuncture for PTSD, underlining its relevance and applicability in contemporary healthcare.

Personal testimonies

After reading about the studies supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating PTSD, it’s inspiring to hear personal testimonies from individuals who have experienced positive results.

Many people have shared how acupuncture has helped them reduce their anxiety and manage their PTSD symptoms more effectively. Some have reported feeling a sense of calmness and relief after undergoing acupuncture sessions, while others have mentioned improvements in their sleep quality and overall wellbeing.

Individuals who were initially skeptical about acupuncture as a treatment for PTSD have expressed surprise at the positive impact it has had on their lives. These personal accounts highlight the potential benefits of integrating acupuncture into comprehensive treatment plans for those struggling with PTSD, offering hope and encouragement to others seeking alternative or complementary therapies.

Safety of Acupuncture for PTSD Patients

Acupuncture is generally safe for PTSD patients, with minimal risks and side effects when performed by a qualified practitioner. It is essential to communicate openly with your acupuncturist about any concerns or medical conditions before beginning treatment.

Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine CA, led by Ryoko Takayama, specializes in providing safe and effective acupuncture therapy for PTSD patients. You can find more information on their website at

Possible risks and side effects

Acupuncture for PTSD may have potential risks and side effects. It is important to be aware of these before considering treatment. Here are some possible risks and side effects to consider:

  1. Mild soreness or bruising at the site of needle insertion
  2. Fatigue or dizziness during or after acupuncture sessions
  3. Risk of fainting, particularly in individuals who are sensitive to needles
  4. Infection if proper sterilization procedures are not followed
  5. Rare instances of nerve damage due to improper needling technique
  6. Allergic reactions to materials used in acupuncture, like metal or herbs used for moxibustion

Precautions to take

When considering acupuncture for PTSD, it’s crucial to take certain precautions to ensure safety and effectiveness. Here are important precautions to keep in mind:

  1. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting acupuncture treatment.
  2. Provide your acupuncturist with a detailed medical history, including any medications or supplements you are currently taking.
  3. Discuss any concerns or potential risks of acupuncture treatment with your healthcare provider and acupuncturist.
  4. Ensure that the acupuncturist uses sterile, single – use needles to minimize the risk of infection.
  5. Monitor for any adverse reactions during and after acupuncture sessions, and promptly report any unusual symptoms to your healthcare provider.

How Acupuncture Helps PTSD Patients

Acupuncture helps PTSD patients by alleviating symptoms such as anxiety, hyperarousal, and depression. It also improves overall wellbeing by promoting relaxation, reducing stress levels, and restoring balance to the body’s energy.

To learn more about how acupuncture can benefit PTSD patients, visit Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine CA and consult with their experienced acupuncturist Ryoko Takayama.

Alleviation of PTSD symptoms

Acupuncture has been proven effective in alleviating PTSD symptoms.

  • It regulates the brain areas involved in PTSD and improves anxiety, learning, and memory.
  • Studies show that it improves symptom scores in patients with PTSD compared to pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy.
  • Both electroacupuncture (EA) and manual acupuncture (MA) have shown benefits in alleviating PTSD symptoms.
  • Acupuncture reduces neuroinflammatory responses in animals with PTSD.

Improvement of overall wellbeing

As acupuncture helps to alleviate symptoms of PTSD, it also contributes to the improvement of overall wellbeing for patients. Studies have shown that acupuncture can regulate brain structures and components, leading to a positive impact on the mental and emotional state of individuals with PTSD.

Not only does acupuncture outperform pharmacotherapy in improving symptom scores for PTSD, but it has also been found to enhance the general wellness and quality of life for those seeking relief from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Acupuncture displays an ability to not just address specific symptoms but provide a holistic benefit by positively impacting various aspects of an individual’s overall sense of wellbeing.

Types of Acupuncture Used for PTSD

In acupuncture therapy for PTSD, different types of acupuncture are used to address the varying needs of patients. These include traditional acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and auricular acupuncture.

Each type targets specific points in the body to provide relief and promote healing. For more information on how each type can benefit those with PTSD, visit Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine CA and consult with Ryoko Takayama.

Traditional acupuncture

Traditional acupuncture has shown effectiveness in treating PTSD across different populations. Studies have explored varying durations and frequencies of traditional acupuncture for this purpose, typically ranging from 4 to 12 weeks.

In animal studies, sessions lasted for 15 to 30 minutes daily over periods of 7 to 21 days.

Clinical evaluations have also highlighted the potential of traditional acupuncture in addressing sleep disturbances among veterans with PTSD. Additionally, research indicates that traditional acupuncture can reduce neuroinflammatory responses and improve anxiety, learning, and memory in model animals experiencing PTSD symptoms.


In electroacupuncture, a small electric current is added to the needles. Animal studies have shown that low-frequency electroacupuncture can help with PTSD symptoms. Clinical studies mainly utilized 100 Hz continuous waves and found that it decreased microglia and astrocyte expression in the hippocampus.

Additionally, neuroinflammatory responses were inhibited by electroacupuncture in cases of PTSD.

This method improved anxiety, learning, and memory in animals with PTSD models through electrical stimulation during acupuncture sessions. Not all clinical trials focused on Electroacupuncture; however, the ones that did showed positive results concerning its impact on PTSD symptoms.

Auricular acupuncture

Moving from the realm of electroacupuncture to the focused approach of auricular acupuncture, it’s important to note that auricular acupuncture involves stimulating specific points on the outer ear with fine needles.

This targeted stimulation aims to address various physical and psychological conditions, including PTSD symptoms, by influencing the central nervous system.

The efficacy of auricular acupuncture in treating PTSD has been explored through both animal and clinical studies. These investigations have varied in terms of treatment duration and frequency, highlighting its adaptable nature as a potential therapeutic intervention for those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Process of Acupuncture Therapy for PTSD

The process of acupuncture therapy for PTSD starts with an initial assessment to determine the best treatment plan. This will include the frequency and duration of sessions, as well as ongoing adjustments based on individual progress and needs.

Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine CA, led by Ryoko Takayama, offers personalized acupuncture therapy for PTSD patients.

Initial assessment

Upon initial assessment for acupuncture therapy, the practitioner will gather detailed information about your PTSD symptoms and medical history. This step is crucial in creating a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

The assessment may include discussions about your emotional state, sleep patterns, triggers, and any previous treatments you have tried or are currently undergoing. Additionally, the practitioner may conduct physical examinations to identify areas of tension or discomfort that could be addressed through acupuncture.

This thorough evaluation ensures that the ensuing treatment plan is comprehensive and effective.

Treatment plan

After the initial assessment, a customized treatment plan is devised based on the individual’s PTSD symptoms and overall health. The frequency and duration of acupuncture sessions are determined to ensure the most effective impact.

Acupuncture time for PTSD treatment generally varies from 15 to 30 minutes per day, spread across several days or weeks. Both traditional acupuncture and electroacupuncture may be used as part of the treatment plan, with careful consideration given to each patient’s specific needs.

The acupuncturist will explain in detail how the treatment plan will unfold, including what types of acupuncture will be utilized and any precautions that should be taken during or after sessions.

Frequency and duration of sessions

After establishing the treatment plan, it’s important to consider the frequency and duration of acupuncture sessions for PTSD. In animal studies, sessions lasting 15, 20, or 30 minutes per day over a period of 7, 14, or 21 days have shown potential benefits.

Clinical studies typically utilize daily sessions lasting approximately 30 minutes and extending over durations of 4, 8, or 12 weeks for both electroacupuncture (EA) and manual acupuncture (MA).

These variations in session length and frequency highlight the flexibility in adapting acupuncture therapy to meet individual needs.

How to Find a Qualified Acupuncture Practitioner

When looking for a qualified acupuncture practitioner, it’s essential to check their credentials and ask the right questions. If you want to learn more about finding the best acupuncturist in Irvine CA, continue reading our blog for valuable tips and insights from Family Wellness Acupuncture’s very own Ryoko Takayama!

Credentials to look for

Look for an acupuncturist who is licensed and certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). This ensures that they have met national standards for competency in acupuncture and related practices.

Additionally, consider practitioners with experience in treating PTSD specifically, as this demonstrates their familiarity with the condition and its unique treatment requirements.

Seeking a practitioner who has positive testimonials or reviews from PTSD patients can also provide valuable insights into their ability to effectively address PTSD symptoms through acupuncture therapy.

Questions to ask

When seeking an acupuncture practitioner for PTSD treatment, it’s important to ask specific questions to ensure the right fit and approach.

  1. What experience and training do you have in treating PTSD with acupuncture?
  2. Can you provide examples of success stories or testimonials from PTSD patients you’ve treated?
  3. What types of acupuncture techniques do you use for PTSD, and how do they differ in their approach and effectiveness?
  4. How do you personalize treatment plans for individuals with PTSD, considering their unique symptoms and needs?
  5. What safety measures or precautions do you take when administering acupuncture to PTSD patients, especially concerning potential adverse reactions?
  6. How do you collaborate or communicate with other healthcare professionals involved in a patient’s PTSD treatment plan?
  7. Are there specific lifestyle modifications or complementary practices that you recommend alongside acupuncture for managing PTSD symptoms?


Explore a new path to wellness today. Contact us at (949) 836-2857, or visit to embark on your transformative journey with a clinic dedicated to your well-being.

For questions about acupuncture, get in touch here: Embrace a new chapter in your health story with us.


1. What is acupuncture for PTSD?

Acupuncture for PTSD is a treatment that aims to ease symptoms like difficulty sleeping and stress. It’s done by placing fine needles at specific points on the body.

2. Can acupuncture work as well as medication for PTSD?

Yes, in some cases, acupuncture has been shown to help just as much as medications like sertraline or paroxetine, without many of the side effects.

3. Why might someone choose acupuncture over traditional therapy for PTSD?

Someone might pick acupuncture because it can be calming and doesn’t involve talking about their trauma like in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Plus, it may reduce symptoms such as anxiety and headaches.

4. How does acupuncture affect the brain to help with PTSD?

Scientists think that acupuncture helps by changing how certain parts of the brain, like the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), react to stress; it might even improve long-term healing in your brain’s networks!

5. Is there solid evidence that shows acupuncture helps with PTSD?

Yes! Researchers have run studies — though we need more — that suggest acupuncture helps people with PTSD feel better by lowering their anxiety levels and improving sleep.

6. Are there any risks to using acupuncture for treating my PTSD?

The risks are pretty low – sometimes people get a little headache or feel tired after treatment. But make sure you find a certified acupuncturist who knows how to treat patients safely.



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