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Can alternative medicine ease suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Mind-body medicine may be an effective alternative for treating PTSD

OHSU is seeking veterans to participate in a study to determine if mind-body medicines such as neuro-feedback, meditation, and other complementary therapies are effective for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“Mind-body medicine appears to be an ideal way to help people with PTSD because the disorder affects the body’s immune system, hormone system and nervous system,” says Helané Wahbeh, N.D., a naturopathic physician researcher at OHSU. “I don’t believe you can effectively treat PTSD by only focusing on one aspect of the illness. For example, if we only give people suffering from PTSD anti-depressants, we may only be treating one aspect of the illness.”

The first phase of the OHSU study will measure changes in hormones, heart rate, brain activity and the immune system in both relaxing and stressful situations. Mary Lu, M.D., a psychiatrist with the Portland VA Medical Center, will provide PTSD screening.

“Generally speaking, your mental state influences your physical health,” Wahbeh says. “We are looking for ways to measure physiological changes in relation to PTSD. This will help provide evidence for the way mind-body medicine works.”

The university needs 45 veteran volunteers between the ages of 18 and 70 who are in good health for this initial research. This includes 15 veterans with combat experience and PTSD, 15 veterans with combat experience who do not suffer from PTSD, and 15 veterans who don’t have combat experience or PTSD.

Participation in the study requires about 6 hours of a participant’s time. It includes questionnaires, a blood draw, and a saliva sample. Veterans who are interested in participating are encouraged to call 503-494-3528 for more information.

About OHSU

Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university, and Oregon’s only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), with 12,400 employees. OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.

As a leader in research, OHSU earned $307 million in research funding in fiscal year 2007. OHSU serves as a catalyst for the region's bioscience industry and is an incubator of discovery, averaging one new breakthrough or innovation every three days, with more than 4,100 research projects currently under way. OHSU disclosed 132 inventions in 2007 alone, and OHSU research resulted in 33 new spinoff companies since 2000, most of which are based in Oregon.

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