A comprehensive approach to managing PTSD: The role of integrative medicine and nutrition

By Dr. Vivek Srivastava

Integrative medicine’s popularity is on the rise due to its holistic approach to healing, which combines conventional Western medicine with complementary/alternative therapies. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop in individuals who have experienced a traumatic event. It is characterized by symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, hyperarousal, and avoidance behavior that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

While conventional treatments like medications and talk therapy can be effective, increasing numbers of individuals with PTSD are turning to a more holistic approach that includes nutrition as a complementary therapy. This integrative approach is said to improve the effectiveness of existing treatment methods. PTSD is a significant public health problem in India, affecting people from all walks of life. Studies suggest that the prevalence of PTSD in India is approximately 32.4%, with mild to moderate depressions affecting 14.4% and 6.4%, depending on the population studied and the type of trauma suffered.

Some of the common causes of PTSD in India include witnessing natural disasters, violence and conflict. However, interestingly, PTSD remains largely underdiagnosed and undertreated in India due to lack of awareness of the disorder, limited mental health resources, and stigma surrounding mental illness.

Integrated medicine approach

Integrated medicine is a healthcare approach that combines conventional medical treatments with complementary therapies to address the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of health. This approach is increasingly being adopted in the treatment of PTSD due to its ability to address multiple dimensions of the condition. Historically, PTSD treatment methods have involved psychotherapies and proven medications. However, in recent years, there has been a growing interest in using it
integrative health practices such as art therapy, exercise, nutrition, and mind-body interventions to address PTSD and other stress-related mental health conditions.

A number of complementary therapies, including acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness meditation and yoga, have proven helpful in building a comprehensive approach to addressing PTSD. According to recent studies, acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness meditation, and yoga may be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in individuals with PTSD. A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showed that adding acupuncture to standard PTSD treatment resulted in a greater reduction in PTSD symptoms than standard treatment.
treatment alone.

Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that massage therapy provided significant improvements in PTSD symptoms, such as decreased hyperarousal and improved sleep. Mindfulness meditation and yoga have also been shown to be effective in reducing PTSD symptoms through multiple research and impact studies. A study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that mindfulness meditation reduced symptoms of PTSD and depression, and a similar study found that yoga provided significant reductions in PTSD symptoms such as hyper-arousal and re-arousal.

While integrative medicine approaches can be helpful for people with PTSD, it’s important to note that these therapies shouldn’t be used as a replacement for conventional treatment. Rather, they should be used as a complementary approach to conventional treatment. It is also essential that people seek care from trained healthcare professionals who can provide personalized recommendations based on their specific needs and medical history.

A nutritional approach to better manage PTSD

Nutrition plays a crucial role in managing PTSD, as diet can affect brain chemistry and neurotransmitter function, which in turn can affect mood and behavior. A balanced diet rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains can provide the essential nutrients needed for optimal brain function. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, approximately 90 percent of people with PTSD have coexisting conditions that require nutritional intervention, such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

Research suggests that some nutrients may be particularly helpful in managing PTSD symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, nuts and seeds, have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Individuals suffering from PTSD also tend to have higher levels of inflammation, which can be influenced by diet. Therefore, an anti-inflammatory diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats may be helpful in managing PTSD symptoms. It is also recommended to increase the intake of multivitamins and minerals, the consumption of probiotics and probiotics, as well as omega-3 supplementation and rational magnesium intake.

Limiting or avoiding the consumption of foods and substances that can negatively impact mental health, such as alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods, is also key. A diet high in sugar will also cause insulin fluctuations, which in turn can make emotional responses and moods more intense. Processed foods like cookies, cakes, and sweets are quickly broken down by the body into glucose, which causes a sugar spike. Likewise there is research suggesting that eating too much sugar decreases our B vitamins. Therefore, it is being kind to yourself and supporting yourself to trade momentary pleasure for a healthier, more supportive diet that could help. to regulate mood. Therefore it is important to cut down on sugar and processed foods and replace them with more complex carbohydrates, such as wholemeal bread, porridge or brown rice.

It’s helpful to follow what’s called a low glycemic load (GL) diet that avoids refined sugars and carbohydrates. Make sure your diet includes whole grains, seeds, nuts and berries with plenty of green leafy vegetables and salads. Good sources of protein are also important, such as lean chicken or fish. Likewise, you don’t need to avoid fats—just eat the good ones, like those found in avocados, nuts, or oily fish. Mindful eating could also help, as it involves slowing down the act of eating and being mindful of your food, increasing your enjoyment of all the healthy things you are eating. The nutritional approach can complement other forms of treatment and can be an effective strategy for promoting general health and well-being in people with PTSD.

A holistic approach to integrating PTSD treatment

A holistic approach incorporating integrative medicine and nutrition can complement traditional PTSD treatment approaches, thereby providing a more comprehensive and personalized approach to managing the condition. By addressing the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of health, people with PTSD can improve their overall quality of life and improve their ability to cope with the challenges of the condition. It is important to work with qualified healthcare professionals who can provide personalized guidance and support to create a holistic treatment plan that meets each individual’s unique needs and goals.

(The author is A Senior Vice President: Innovation – Business Strategy and Science Affairs, Zeon Lifesciences. Opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)

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