Do you live with PTSD or know someone that does? It is not always an easy journey to try and regain a state of wellness? the flashbacks and other symptoms of PTSD can make it difficult. Especially when you start to consider the addictive nature of the PTSD medications usually prescribed to those living with PTSD. So what about acupuncture? Can acupuncture help treat PTSD?

In this article, we explore these questions and more as we look at the role that natural and holistic treatment of acupuncture can have on the severity of PTSD symptoms a person experiences.

Acupuncture for PTSD

Acupuncture is a natural treatment for PTSD that does not require medications. It does not create a co-dependence of the person receiving acupuncture for PTSD like other forms of treatments for PTSD. Acupuncture for PTSD has been studied and reviewed as a natural treatment for PTSD. Acupuncture has been found to be an effective treatment for veterans suffering from combat stress.

How Acupuncture Works for PTSD

PTSD sends signals to the brain activating the areas that activate fear. Acupuncture has been found to be a viable and potent intervention treatment for PTSD. This has been supported by studies that investigated the effects of acupuncture on the areas of the brain that operate how we perceive and experience fear. This is important because the study found that acupuncture, in essence, presses the deactivation button on the brain's areas that control fear also known as the amygdala and hippocampus.

Acupuncture Sessions and PTSD

Here are four factors in acupuncture sessions needed for the treatment of PTSD:

  1. Number of sessions: 6 sessions

  2. Length of each session: 60 minutes

  3. Session intervals: Bi-weekly

  4. Treatment long-term impact: The use of acupuncture for the reduction of PTSD symptoms and its severity have been documented up to 24 months after treatment.

Dealing with Embarrassment

Many people, including servicemen and women, experience embarrassment when seeking treatment for PTSD. It's important to understand that feelings of embarrassment and shame are quite common, and you may find it difficult to talk about or want to seek treatment. However, if you can recognize this and move past it, acupuncture offers a safe treatment that may reduce the symptoms of PTSD, including anxiety, stress, and depression.

Acupuncture in the Face of Disaster

As a natural treatment, PTSD can be used to treat people experiencing natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or areas devastated by war. Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) is a group that provides acupuncture treatment for people who have experienced trauma. Having acupuncture soon after the onset of a traumatic disaster helps survivors heal and work through their personal experiences. AWB also offers training events for practitioners for doing acupuncture in the field for traumatic events.

Acupuncture points for PTSD

Here some of the acupuncture points that have been used in various studies of acupuncture for PTSD:

  • UB13

  • UB14

  • UB15

  • UB18m

  • UB20

  • UB23

  • LV3

  • LI4

  • HT5

  • HT7

  • PC6

  • KD3

  • KD9

  • CV4

  • CV15

  • GV24

  • Yintang

  • Shen Men

In addition, there are two types of acupuncture treatment protocols for PTSD:

  1. Emotional Freedom Techniques

  2. National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA)

Emotional Freedom Techniques

The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) utilizes the tapping of acupuncture points to stimulate acupuncture points for PTSD and has been shown to be effective in the treatment of PTSD, as well as pain, phobias, anxiety, and depression.

These points used for PTSD include the following EFT points:

  • The insides of both eyebrows

  • Beneath each eye

  • Beneath the nose on the midline

  • Directly beneath the chin on the midline

Beneath both collar bones just outside the midline of the body

Sometimes people want to know: how is EFT connected to acupuncture if it does not use any needles? If you want to know more about EFT, read: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) - Definition, Tapping, Benefits

If however, you would like to know more about how EFT in particular works for PTSD read: EFT for PTSD.

National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA)

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol is the acupuncture treatment used by the group Acupuncturists Without Borders . They use it not only when treating those who have just lived through a traumatic natural disaster but also with veterans after they have returned from battle. It is an acupuncture treatment that uses five acupuncture points in the ear:

  1. Sympathetic

  2. Shen Men

  3. Kidney

  4. Liver

  5. Lung

More Information

Want more information on acupuncture? Check out these other resources:


Kim, Y. D., Heo, I., Shin, B. C., Crawford, C., Kang, H. W., & Lim, J. H. (2013). Acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and prospective clinical trials. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 615857. Retrieved February 4, 2019 from

Church, D., & Feinstein, D. (2017, August 01). The Manual Stimulation of Acupuncture Points in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Review of Clinical Emotional Freedom Techniques. Retrieved February 4, 2019, from

Engel, C., Cordova, E., & Benedek, D. (2014). Randomized effectiveness trial of a brief course of acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder. Medcar, 52, S57-64. Retrieved February 4, 2019 from

How we work. (n.d.). Retrieved February 4, 2019, from

Military stress recovery project. (n.d.). Retrieved June 18, 2018, from