Battlefield acupuncture research?

Battlefield acupuncture.

Battlefield acupunture research?  “Really?”  I hear you ask?  With acupuncture slowly gaining acceptance within the medical community I still think it’s surprising to hear that the American military are researching the use of acupuncture on the front-line.

Ear Acupuncture.

Acupuncture contains many ‘micro-systems’ of which ear acupuncture is arguably the most popular.  A ‘micro-system’ is a system where the whole body is mapped out onto one specific area of the body.  Most readers of this blog will be familiar with reflexology – a foot massage system in which different parts of the foot represent different parts of the body.  If your toe is sore you might be told you have sinus problems.  Iridology, where different parts of the iris represent different body systems, is a popular naturopathic system.  The Chinese use facial, nose, abdominal, hand and scalp systems amongst others.

Ear acupuncture had some small history in ancient times but was primarily developed by French Dr Paul Nogier in the 1950’s.  Dr Nogier imagined an upside down human foetus over the ear to map out a system of biological mapping.  The Chinese studied Dr Nogier’s ‘auriculotherapy’ and came up with their own system, based on their own research.

The Battlefield Acupuncture Protocol.

Developed by Colonel Richard Niemtzow, who serves as a consultant for complementary and alternative medicine to the Surgeon General of the Air Force, the Battlefield protocol is a set of 5 ear-acupoints: Point Zero, Shen Men, Omega 2, Thalamus and the Cingulate Gyrus.


A US military research team has carried out a feasibility study to examine the use of ‘Battlefield Acupuncture’  for pain control amongst injured personnel being evacuated by air from military bases in Germany to hospital in the USA.

They found that it was feasible to train nurses with no previous experience of acupuncture to give ‘Battlefield acupuncture’.

Nurses administered the battlefield acupuncture protocol to patients experiencing pain during the flight. Patients reported a statistically significant reduction in pain after receiving the treatment.

The researchers concluded:

BFA is a feasible acupuncture technique to be performed within the aeromedical evacuation system without interfering with operational medical duties. Significant pain relief was experienced by those patients who elected to receive BFA to relieve their pain.

(Moving Acupuncture to the Frontline of Military Medical Care: A Feasibility Study. Medical Acupuncture. February 2013, 25(1): 48-54).


Leave a Comment