A recent systematic review described the evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for PTSD as encouraging, but concluded that further trials are needed (14).

Of note, five of the six studies examined in that review were conducted in China, where acupuncture is a mainstream treatment.

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Some conventional therapies for PTSD (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapies [CBT]) include elements that are consistent with CAM approaches.

They are not considered to be CAM herein because CBT has a separate and well-developed basis in cognitive and behavioral theories.

As Western practitioners and consumers increasingly adopt these approaches, the boundaries between conventional medicine and CAM continue to shift.

Please visit The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) for a complete overview of CAM interventions.

In another nationally representative sample, survey results showed that CAM therapies were used more commonly than conventional therapies to treat self-defined anxiety attacks (51.9% vs. Despite the widespread use of CAM among individuals with PTSD, evidence to support the efficacy of CAM for treating PTSD is limited.

The current empirical evidence for different CAM modalities in PTSD is described below.

The CAM techniques that are used in CBT (e.g., relaxation, mindfulness) are conceptualized as supporting cognitive-behavioral mechanisms as opposed to operating on their own to create change.

For example, relaxation may be used during exposure-based treatment for PTSD to manage arousal, thereby helping the patient to tolerate the exposure, which is believed to be the major change agent.

For each modality, treatment effects on PTSD symptoms and key limitations are summarized.

Acupuncture There has been one published randomized clinical trial of acupuncture as a treatment for PTSD.

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