Acupuncture good for mental illness, substance abuse
Psychiatrist Dr. Libby Stuyt uses acupuncture in her work at Colorado
Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. She's medical director for the
Circle Program, whose participants have a dual diagnosis of mental
illness and substance abuse; many also are addicted to tobacco. She
first started using acupuncture in 2000 to help them with smoking
cessation because the program is smoke-free.
"There was some documentation that it helps," Stuyt says. "It does a
whole lot more. I really like it."
The protocol she follows was developed by the National Acupuncture
Detoxification Association in New York and based on the work of a
psychiatrist who traveled to China and observed that when the lung
point in the ear was needled, opiate-addicted people didn't have
Stuyt does auricular acupuncture - on the ear only - and inserts five
needles per ear, into points for the sympathetic nervous system,
kidney, liver, lung and a point called Shen Men or Spirit Gate.
Program participants sit quietly in a room with music playing for 45
minutes to an hour. The acupuncture is voluntary, but most of the 20
Circle Program participants choose to do it four days a week, she
says. When she asked why, they said they find it relaxing.
Stuyt just published a study of her findings; patients reported
sleeping better, having more energy, improved concentration and
focus, and help in managing pain.
"We do it on patients and on staff. It's amazing to watch ADHD
(attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) patients who can't sit
still. It's very helpful for them: They can sit for a total hour with
needles in their ear, and then it (the effects) starts to bleed over
into other areas of their behavior." Stuyt says the mental health
institute had someone come in and train seven psychiatrists in
acupuncture; she's a trainer now.
"In the two-week training I went through, I learned some very
interesting things about Oriental medicine and the differences
between it and Western medicine. I think a combination of both is
very powerful. Acupuncture is an added benefit.
"There's a lot of doctors who bad-mouth this. They should be more
open-minded. Acupuncturists do a good job. They go through very
Stuyt herself sees an acupuncturist for pain management.
- Mary Jean Porter