For veterans suffering with the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other emotional disorders, acupuncture doesn’t come readily to mind. But one Spring Hill holistic center is now offering a free clinic designed to help veterans overcome the symptoms of PTSD and to help the return of body and mind to a state of balance and peace.
Susan L. Phillips, a doctor of oriental medicine, is spearheading this new clinic. Her practice, at Acupuncture Plus Holistic Center, offers holistic care including acupuncture, massage and medical qigong, along with nutritional health and wellness treatments.
“A lot of my colleagues have already set up very successful clinics in other parts of the country and it’s always been my dream to bring it to Hernando County,” she said. “Veterans can benefit so much from acupuncture and I’ve seen incredibly good results treating stress-related problems.”
Phillips began her career in the healing arts in 1975 and has been practicing in Hernando County since 2001. She is board certified nationally in Chinese herbology and acupuncture.
“I did my post-grad work in China,” explained Phillips, “I felt I should learn from the very people who have been doing this type of healing for over 5,000 years. It was a rich experience.”
Phillips is no stranger to PTSD. She has 3 uncles who served and several friends.
“Hearing about what they went through makes me want to give back in any way I can,” she said.
Traditional acupuncture theory states that it is the body’s vital life force or ‘Qi’ (pronounced ‘Chi’) that controls the working of all organs and systems. The Qi circulates from one organ to another always following a prescribed route along pathways called meridians. Acupuncture is a way to help your Qi when it becomes blocked or unbalanced. It’s a type of complementary medicine that uses sterile needles inserted into your skin to alleviate pain and to treat various physical, mental, and emotional conditions. Originating in ancient China, acupuncture is now widely accepted and practiced in the West.
“Knowledge of the exact insertion points to treat specific ailments has taken me years of experience and practice and highly specialized training to achieve,” said Phillips.
When the earthquake happened in Haiti in 2010, Phillips went to help treat the victims of the disaster.
“I found that auricular acupuncture worked so efficiently that the patients would relax and drift off to sleep upright in the chair,” she said. “Some of these victims had not slept in weeks.”
PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event and affect people in many different ways. But with some, they may not happen until months or years after the trauma. Maybe something will trigger a memory that reminds you of the event, maybe you will suffer negative changes in beliefs and feelings or perhaps experience trouble eating or sleeping.
Phillips states that resetting 5 points on the ear can help veterans alleviate a lot of the symptoms of PTSD.
The treatment protocol involves tiny needles inserted into reflex points on the ears and is based on the theory that the ear is a microsystem reflecting the entire body represented on the auricle, the outer portion of the ear. These points of the body are responsible for controlling particular areas in the body that help control nervous functioning as well as stress levels.
The needles used in acupuncture are sterile, made of stainless steel and can vary in length from half an inch to four inches.
They are extremely fine and designed to be very pliable to avoid any breakages. How many needles to be inserted at each visit depends entirely on each patient’s symptoms.
Although there may be a slight sensation when needles are inserted, most patients feel no pain.
“The protocol that I’m using right now requires five needles in each ear and I do it in a group setting here at my clinic,” explained Phillips. “This way I can treat several people at once because they’re sitting upright on a chair. My goal is to help them to reigniting a feeling of worth, positive contribution, and meaningfulness.”
Phillips says group interaction in a nonclinical environment also encourages discussion with other veterans who have experienced trauma and remind participants that they are not alone. There will be a relaxed atmosphere and peaceful music.
The clinic takes place every third Thursday of the month between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served. “Before any kind of treatment is considered, I ask participants to fill out a form detailing their history,” she said.
“I’m truly committed to helping our veterans who are struggling with emotional trauma,” said Phillips. “My holistic approach will help them toward regaining their peace of mind.”
Acupuncture is recognized by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO). It can treat many types of health conditions including pain, anxiety, insomnia, allergies, fatigue, migraines, digestion, and all kinds of women’s and men’s health problems.
“But it’s just a small piece of the pie,” said Phillips. “Holistic healing involves proper nutrition and a well-rounded approach to health.”
The Acupuncture Plus clinic offers the best in holistic care with natural remedies like acupuncture, nutritional supplementing and massage. The center also offers a full range of testing, from heavy metals to hormonal testing.
“All of these therapies don’t involve any side effects,” she said. “I have seen a lot of damage caused from using conventional chemical medication.”
“I love working with our veterans and I do so want to get this free clinic operating,” said Phillips.
Free Veterans Clinic
If you are interested in free acupuncture for veterans, the clinic will be held Thursday, Sept. 28 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Acupuncture Plus Holistic Center, 3383 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill, Fl 34609.
WHAT IS PTSD?
PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.
It's normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months.
If it's been longer than a few months and you're still having symptoms, you may have PTSD. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time.
U.S. Department of