It’s hard to think about much else as we witness, the devastation in Haiti from this week’s earthquake. It’s difficult to comprehend how any more misery can descend upon the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and yet, we watch it happening as Haitians struggle to survive without food, water, or shelter. Please join me in doing what we can from afar, which is to donate to the massive relief efforts that are being undertaken to help the people of Haiti who are suffering from this overwhelming disaster. Some groups that are on the ground in Haiti now and can use your donations include The American Refugee Committee, Haiti Outreach, The American Red Cross, and The International Rescue Committee.
During many of the most recent disasters, a group of acupuncturists who are part of Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) have arrived on the scene to treat both victims and relief workers suffering from exhaustion, stress, and anxiety. Volunteers from AWB were on hand near ground zero after 9/11 and were in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
These acupuncturists use a protocol developed by the National Acupuncture Detox Association (NADA). The NADA protocol employs auricular, or ear, acupuncture, which is simple and can treat a large number of people quickly. Ear acupuncture works a little bit like foot reflexology, in which a map of the entire human body is found in the ear. A Western explanation is that each of the five ear acupuncture points used in this protocol are connected to nerve pathways that alter brain chemistry to calm anxiety.
The NADA protocol was originally developed for the treatment of addictions, and from time to time, I use it in my clinic to help patients who are recovering from chemical abuse and eating disorders. More recently, the NADA ear protocol has been used with good results for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), not only with victims and relief workers after disasters, but with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Researchers have found that ear acupuncture offered effective trauma relief in the form of reduced stress and anxiety, better sleep, and a decrease in the need for prescription drugs.
In the weeks and months to come, volunteer acupuncturists will play a small, but vital role in healing the rescue workers and survivors of this disaster.