Functional Medicine for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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If you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there are a variety of complementary and integrative health practices that may be beneficial. These include meditation, acupuncture, deep breathing techniques, massage therapy and yoga.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a brain disorder that can impact everyone at some point in their life. It’s debilitating and restrictive to your life and health.


Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to one’s thoughts, feelings and environment without judgment or condemnation. It has its roots in Buddhist meditation but can be practiced by anyone regardless of their religious or philosophical affiliations.

Experts describe mindfulness as “the capacity to be present in the moment with an accepting attitude.” This practice can help manage stressful emotions like fear or anxiety by being aware of them and responding empathetically. Not only that, but mindfulness also improves quality of life while decreasing risks for stress-related diseases such as heart disease or high blood pressure.

Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways, including meditation and informal activities such as breathing exercises while eating, walking or brushing your teeth. According to one study, people who practiced mindfulness informally throughout daily activities experienced less negative effects on their physical health than those who didn’t.

Mindfulness training has been found to enhance mental health, helping reduce stress, lower cholesterol, treat pain, lower blood pressure and ease gastrointestinal problems. Not only that but it may assist patients deal with chronic illness more effectively, improve sleep patterns and lessen symptoms associated with depression and anxiety disorders as well.

Studies have demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can enhance memory, focus and even boost moods. It also enhances social skills while teaching how to regulate impulses and prevent impulsive behaviour.

One of the wonderful aspects of mindfulness is its accessibility – anyone can learn it! You don’t need special qualifications or skillset to start, just some free apps, classes at local centres, or self-guided meditations for a truly mindful experience.

Spending 10 minutes practicing mindfulness each day can help you focus better and boost your executive function. It’s as easy as sitting down and paying attention to sensations around you, such as the way the sun shines in the sky or the temperature of the air you’re breathing.

The most crucial thing for success with mindfulness is consistency – even when feeling anxious or depressed. With more practice under your belt, the easier it will become to maintain a mindful attitude in everyday life.


Meditation has been found to be an effective coping strategy for PTSD, often combined with other mental health therapies. Studies have demonstrated that regular practice of meditation reduces stress hormones, calms the parasympathetic nervous system (which triggers the primary “fight,” “flight,” or “freeze” response in stressful situations), and improves people’s overall well-being.

Meditation can be an empowering tool for self-care. One study revealed that those who practiced meditation experienced lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, after just two months. Furthermore, another study demonstrated how meditation increased people’s compassion and altruism levels.

If you have PTSD and would like to try meditation, consult with a qualified therapist first to determine the most beneficial type of meditation. Some PTSD-specific techniques include guided meditation and breathing exercises.

Meditation techniques like mindfulness and compassion meditation encourage you to observe thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness brings focus on the present moment, which may help break up cognitive distortions that make it harder to heal from trauma.

Other forms of meditation involve focusing on an object, sensation or movement. You can do a tattva breath – which involves paying attention to inhale and exhale motions – or do a body scan, where you pay attention to arm and leg movements.

Focused attention, which utilizes your breath as an anchor point for focus, is another effective technique that’s easy to learn and practice. However, be mindful of the tendency for the mind to wander during meditation as this technique should always be done with awareness.

Meditation not only relaxes the brain, but it may also boost immunity. A study from 2016 discovered that those who practiced meditation regularly produced less cortisol–cortisol being the hormone responsible for stress response in the body–which is responsible for suppressing immune function.

Stress and anxiety levels will drop, allowing you to relax and sleep better. You can even incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life by taking five minutes before leaving for work or a meeting – it will make all the difference in how well-rested and rested you feel afterwards.


Gratitude is the act of recognizing and appreciating things in our lives that bring joy. It is an innate part of human experience that can easily be nurtured. Gratitude helps us find meaning and value on this journey; it also strengthens relationships with those around us, encourages prosocial behaviours and improves self-care practices.

Practicing gratitude can be as simple as taking a moment each day to appreciate what is going right in our lives. This could include someone or something we cherish, an event that has made our day better, or simply feeling warm and contented.

It can also be more complex. One way to cultivate gratitude is through gratitude meditation, which involves focusing on things that make you feel good and can be used as a tool to cultivate appreciation for others or even the natural world.

Try this meditation for a few minutes: Take some deep inhalations and focus on the sensation of lightness that arises in your body when you are grateful. It can be an enjoyable experience to be aware of these sensations when feeling thankful for something or someone.

After some time of practicing gratitude, you may start to notice its effect on your daily life. It helps you be more cognizant of the blessings in your life even when they may not be easily noticed.

Another way gratitude can benefit your health is by decreasing negative emotions and strengthening resilience. This is because gratitude allows you to view challenging events more positively and accept them as part of life’s lessons.


EMDR (eye movement desensitization and processing) is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy that uses eye movements or other forms of stimulation to desensitize and process traumatic memories. It has often been used to treat PTSD, but research has also demonstrated its efficacy in helping with other emotional and mental health conditions.

EMDR sessions with your therapist involve several phases that help you and your therapist work through your trauma. Each one focuses on a different aspect of memory processing; for instance, the initial history taking allows you to identify and discuss any traumatic memories that need processing.

After this, you and your therapist will work through a series of standardized procedures that focus on the image, negative thoughts and body sensations associated with the memory. Your therapist then performs brief bilateral stimulation (BLS) like eye movements or tapping which helps process the memory and reduce its distress.

The next phase involves installation, which reinforces your desired positive cognition and helps you reframe memory in a more appropriate light. To do this, rate both positive beliefs and emotions as well as their intensity when confronted by negative ones.

After this, a body scan helps gauge your progress during EMDR by measuring how you feel in your body. This can be an excellent tool to track progress and gauge how much symptoms have diminished over time.

Your therapist and you will work together until all symptoms have disappeared. This may take several sessions, but eventually it will be all gone for good.

EMDR is an effective treatment for mental and emotional problems. It has been demonstrated to be successful in treating PTSD, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, phobias, stress, ongoing symptoms related to past abuse, complicated grief and other psychological difficulties. It has been recognized by both the World Health Organization and numerous government organizations around the world for its efficacy.

For more information or if you would like to discuss treatment and management with Dr Stavy then please contact us via