Incorporating Complementary and Alternative Practices into Treatment of PTSD

  • Janina Scarlet
  • Ariel J. Lang
Living reference work entry


This chapter examines evidence for the effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is high demand for CAM among both military and civilian consumers and thus CAM for PTSD warrants thorough analysis. The CAM interventions reviewed herein include mindfulness and other meditative practices, acupuncture, yoga, relaxation, breathing training, and physical exercise. Although there are few rigorous studies of CAM for PTSD, available evidence suggests that these approaches are moderately effective. They would generally not be considered a first line intervention for PTSD at this point, but rather would be recommended as an adjunct to established approaches. The limited number of studies available, however, precludes drawing firm conclusions. Thus, future work should focus on better understanding the optimal uses of CAM for PTSD.


Posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD Anxiety Depression Complementary and alternative medicine Meditation Mindfulness Acupuncture Massage Relaxation Compassion 

List of All Abbreviations


Beck’s Depression Inventory


Brain-derived Neurotropic Factor


Complementary and Alternative Medicine


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

HPA Axis

Hypothalamus-Pituitary and Adrenal Axis


Heart Rate Variability


Loving Kindness Meditation


Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction


Mantram Repetition Program


Massage Therapy


PTSD Checklist


Prolonged Exposure


Progressive Muscle Relaxation


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


Randomized Controlled Trial


Department for Veterans Affairs


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UCSD Department of PsychiatryUCSD and VA San Diego Healthcare System, VASDHS Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental HealthLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Veterans Medical Research FoundationSan DiegoUSA

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