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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Rader, LAc, MS


When someone recalls a past traumatic event, even if it is simply a smell or a sound, that sensory trigger can start a cascade of events in the brain that lead to a feeling or sensation that mimics the feelings and sensations of the original trauma. In effect, that person re-experiences the trauma each time it is recalled.

 When remembering a traumatic experience, a part of  the brain called the hippocampus, signals the thalamus and amygdyla to release stress hormones, which create a series of neurochemical responses that lead to feelings that are similar to the original response to the trauma. Over time the  person becomes habituated to the  neurochemical response. Even though the thoughts and feelings associated with the response are usually not pleasant, and most likely are quite unpleasant, they are familiar. What is familiar is, in a strange way, comforting. In a sense, the body/mind gets addicted to the feeling.

Once this is understood, one can use methods to shake up and interrupt the  normal habituated response. The result is to reprogram the response to the same triggers that remind the person of the original trauma. Acupuncture is a safe and very successful approach for treating for PTSD. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is based on acupuncture meridians, is also another highly effective method.  Both of these methods are able to interrupt the cellular memory and create new relaxing responses to the triggers of past traumas without using medication.

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