For the past 19 years the United States Military has been using a secret weapon in combating pain: Acupuncture, specifically a form called Battlefield Acupuncture, or BFA. Battlefield Acupuncture has been widely utilized by the military not only because it often has an immediate impact on pain, but also because it reduces the risk of opioid addiction for active personnel.
BFA is a form of auricular acupuncture, utilizing the many nerve endings in the ear as a means of affecting the central nervous system. Auricular acupuncture is additionally thought to cause the release of β-endorphins, causing short term analgesia, as well as anti-inflammatory cytokines which help to resolve the pain longterm. Battlefield Acupuncture involves the placement of up to 5 semi-permanent gold or platinum needles in each ear in a series of points with direct impacts on the nervous system. After each point is placed, the patient is assessed for changes in their symptoms before it is decided whether or not the next point is needed. The semi-permanent needles can stay in place for up to a week before falling out on their own, or being removed by a practitioner.
Although BFA in the military is used only as a means of treating pain, because of the impact it has on the nervous system, it can treat numerous other symptoms. One of the main nerves it innervates is the vagus nerve, which controls our parasympathetic motor system. This means that it is in charge of many of the functions that happen in our body without us having to think about them, from controlling our heart rate and our breathing to our digestion and elimination. The vagus nerve also has effects on the release of neurotransmitters and hormones, including the stress hormone cortisol.
Common treatment uses of BFA in our clinic include:
- Any pain syndrome, both acute and chronic
- Headaches, Migraines
- Digestive problems such as constipation, IBS
- Dizziness, balance issues
- Ringing in ears
Because of the nature of this form of acupuncture, it is easy to do in a community setting as a highly effective means of cost-effective relief, or as an additional treatment to cupping, tuina, or an acupuncture session.
We are extremely excited to be able to offer this form of acupuncture as a drop-in service. Look for dates on our website.