Important to know: Chronic health conditions should be addressed under direct medical supervision of your GP or consultant, and acupuncture would be an adjunct or complement to usual care – we advise that you let you doctor know when you use this approach.
The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has a research digest of recent articles, with a small section on recent studies in this area (toward the base of the document – see Resources below).
About the research: It is worth noting that in research, randomised controlled studies (RCT) are the most reliable in terms of quality of evidence, with a systematic review or meta analysis of numerous studies being the best way of seeing the overall picture of the state of the evidence. Below we have a selection of the available research, which does include some larger RCTs, and reviews of the literature alongside smaller studies. The n= figure tells you how many people were participants in the study.
In the UK, a trial was done by the British Acupuncture Council with HealthWatch Norfolk (2018) to evaluate the usefulness and acceptability of acupuncture for PTSD in veterans in Norfolk, UK. This small trial gave very encouraging results for the veterans who took part in it (link below) and further larger trials involving a greater number of patients and practitioners would be useful to corroborate this.
There have been a number of research trials in the United States of America in particular working with veterans groups, where acupuncture and a particular protocol of ear acupuncture are often used in this area.
Elsewhere, a systematic review and meta-analysis of 7 trials was not able to draw strong conclusions (Grant et al, 2018 n=709 overall), of note many trials had a lower quality of evidence, meaning further high quality RCT trials and large reviews are warranted in this growing area.
BAcC and Healthwatch Norfolk (2018) Stand Easy: An Evaluation of the effectiveness and acceptability of acupuncture as a treatment for PTSD for veterans in Norfolk
Grant, S., Colaiaco, B., Motala, A., Shanman, R., Sorbero, M. and Hempel, S., 2018. Acupuncture for the treatment of adults with posttraumatic stress disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 19(1), pp.39-58.
British Acupuncture Council PTSD factsheet including specific research, trials and mechanisms of action for acupuncture in this condition,