– In its ongoing quest
to provide patients   with evidence-based,
patient-centered care,   VA has enhanced its use
of integrative therapies   like yoga, meditation,
and even acupuncture.   Today about 9 out of 10
VA medical centers   offer this modality
of treatment.   Veterans taking part
in these complementary   and alternative approaches say   that they can be
highly effective   in producing whole-body benefits
for a variety of ailments.   – VA’s Dr. Jeanette Akhter,
an OB/GYN by training,   had been practicing for decades
when she decided to return   to school for a Master’s degree
in Acupuncture.   – I expected to learn
how to manage pain there,   which is a great deal of it,
but what I learned   in this particular
acupuncture education   was how important taking care
of the entire patient is.   I was supposed to know that
from my medical practice,   and, to some extent,
I suppose I did,   but I wish I had learned
in medical school   what I learned
in acupuncture school.   Want to welcome everybody.   – This group session
at the VA Medical Center   in Washington, DC, for example,
is not only voluntary.   It’s also full to capacity.   – We have a lot of guys
and sometimes some females, too,   that come regularly,
and you form a little bond.   So it makes it that much better,   that much better
as far as the treatment.   – All right, Sonny.   – Army veteran Sonny Pate
tries to attend every session.   His initial motivation was
to find relief for insomnia.   – And darn if it didn’t work.
I went right back asleep.   When I leave here,
I’m very relaxed.   If I can carry that, bottle it,   and it’s carried with me
all the time,   it would be great,
but, of course,   that’s not possible.   So we learn techniques that when
you are not here, it helps you.   – Practitioners say it’s
a more holistic approach   to patient care, one in which
a person’s mind and spirit   are treated along with the body
as an integrated whole.   Amanda Hull is Program Director
for Integrative Health   and Wellness at the DC
VA Medical Center.   – Acupuncture has been one
of our most desired services   here in our program,
the preliminary research   and the preliminary
anecdotal case studies   very, very promising
at this point.   – We live in a time
and, thankfully, the VA   is a place where people can have
the best of Western medicine   alongside some pretty good
Eastern medicine,   and patients benefit when we
integrate both approaches.   That’s the essence
of integrative medicine.   – Eastern medicine’s
integrative character   is often symbolized
by the Taijitu,   a form representing
the interconnectedness   of all forms of energy,
as expressed   through the ancient Chinese
concepts of yin and yang.   – And the yin
is that portion of life   which is nourishing,
which promotes growth.   The yang is that part of doing,
being all that you can be.   In a nutshell,
it’s all about balance.   So the whole idea
of acupuncture really is   to try to help reestablish
that balance   not only through the positioning
of particular needles,   but by helping the patient
with talking.   – You’re here every week
for the–   – It works.
I’m here every day.   – Yeah.
– So it works for me.   – Acupuncturist Alaine Duncan
has studied the effects   of this form of treatment
on veterans   suffering from
post-traumatic stress.   – And that put me in a position
where the leadership here   at the DC VA
was willing to take a risk   and credential
a licensed acupuncturist,   which was an innovative
and brave thing for them to do   back in 2007
when I started here.   – Individual treatment sessions   are customized to address
specific complaints.   In the group sessions,
only the ear is used.   – The ear is a very interesting
organ in Chinese medicine.   Actually, if you look at it,
it looks a little bit   like an inverted fetus, right?   So the head is down here, and
the backbone comes along here,   and the legs are curled up,
and the inner organs–   the liver and the gall bladder
and the heart–   are all kind of here
in the middle,   and because the ear
is so proximal to the brain,   there are a lot of points   that are all about
regulating brain health,   regulating the brain stem
in particular,   where those primal responses–
fight, flight, freeze–   that get activated in trauma
are accessible.   – In auricular, or ear,
acupuncture,   12 points are selected
based on their effectiveness   in restoring balance
and regulation.   – We can take these 12 points
that we’ve preselected   and find the five
that are the most reactive.   So acupuncture is an ideal form
for bringing regulation   to the autonomic nervous system,   which is what gets
so disregulated in trauma.   – Research continues into
the precise medical benefits   of acupuncture, but both
the patients who undergo it   and the clinicians
who administer it   have learned one thing–
it works.    

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