By Dr. Donald Liebell
Colonel Niemtzow initially introduced this method with the intention of eliminating wounded soldiers’ pain while on the battlefield. It was so successful that the Air Force began teaching it to physicians deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan in early 2009. Doctors at Andrews Air Force Base have found that this extraordinary procedure can relieve severe pain, lasting several days or more.
ew Jersey, he began studying acupuncture. In 1998 the Colonel was appointed as the United States Military’s first full-time acupuncturist. By 2002, Dr. Niemtzow became Consultant for Alternative and Complementary Medicine to the Air Force Surgeon General. He established the acupuncture clinic at Andrews Air Force Base.
- Colonel (Dr.) Stephen Princiotta, Deputy Commander for Clinical Services, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
"I love it… It can be life-changing when the patient responds
immediately and looks at you like you're a magician… I’m always happy to
see a patient break into a smile who was in misery only minutes before"
- Major (Dr.) Teri Simpson, anesthesiologist
"While I'm just standing here I feel a lot better," he said. In addition, the young Soldier edged the closest he'd been to touching his toes in six months due to back pain.
- Bradley Phillips, Army Specialist, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood
"It was amazing [she said of her initial acupuncture treatment that provided total relief from her headache]... I couldn't believe it the first time it happened. I could almost function like a normal person again."
- Senior Airman Jillian Sandbothe, 52nd Component Maintenance Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany
"They put the needles in one point on each side of the ear and the [shoulder] pain was immediately gone... I can't believe in less than 10 minutes my pain is gone!"
- Lt. Colonel (Dr.) Wilbur Peralta, 779 MDOS
"It allows troops to reduce the
number of narcotics they take for pain, and have a better assessment of
any underlying brain injury they may have... When they're on
narcotics, you can't do that because they're feeling the effects of the
- Colonel Arnyce Pock, Medical Director for the Air Force Medical Corps
January 30, 2009, FOXnews.com reported that Chief Warrant Officer James
Brad Smith had excellent results with Battlefield Acupuncture. He had
fallen over 20 feet from a Black Hawk helicopter in Baghdad in December
of 2008. Smith broke five ribs, punctured a lung and shattered bones in
his hand. He was treated by Dr. Niemtzow at Walter Reed Army Medical
Center in Washington. Officer Smith received acupuncture on several
points on his ear, and his pain began to ease.
"My ribs feel numb now and I feel it a little less in my hand," Smith said, raising his injured arm. "The pain isn't as sharp. It's maybe 50 percent better." It was reported that the throbbing pain in his leg didn't change with acupuncture treatment, but the pain levels in his arm and ribs were the lowest they've been since he was injured. He also said that he didn't feel groggy afterward, a side-effect he usually experiences from the low-level morphine he takes.
Dr. Niemtzow has said that it is quite remarkable for an institution as
conservative as the U.S. Military to adopt this procedure. He also
points out that like all medical procedures, it doesn’t always work. I
am proud to have Battlefield Acupuncture as one of several “tools in my
I was recently honored with the invitation to join Dr. Niemtzow at
Andrews Air Force base to experience Battlefield Acupuncture in a
Military setting. Although there are no current plans to expand the
program beyond the Andrews clinic, my office is just a few miles from
Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach. Local Military personnel
and dependents can conveniently receive treatment.
Dr. Niemtzow and I discussed how unfortunate it is that Tricare does
not cover acupuncture and man other so-called "alternative" treatments.
Nevertheless, he and I agreed that because it is an affordable
treatment that can reduce severe pain for many days—often after
everything else has failed; it is well worth it to pursue. I provide a
significant Military discount for Battlefield
Battlefield Acupuncture is an amazing pain-relieving procedure. It’s so simple that it’s hard to believe. It is not a replacement for treating the cause of a condition, but it can bring sweet relief after all has failed.
Although I receive lots of questions daily, I do respond to all of them (in the order received), usually within 48 hours. Please understand that my answers are for general information only. I cannot provide specific medical advice via email; that can only be provided through proper evaluation in my office. For appointments, please call my office.
Your email address or other information is confidential; I wll never share it with anyone, nor will it be used for any form of solicitation. I look forward to your questions!
- Dr. Donald Liebell
"In the beginning, many people were skeptical,
but after seeing it demonstrated on patients and the benefits achieved -- especially in the
area of pain -- the majority of physicians embraced it and learned how
to use it in their practices as an adunctive therapy.
Colonel (Dr.) Richard Niemztow, M.D., PhD., M.P.H.
“Pain management through three-phase auricular therapy is commonly very effective and occasionally is miraculous."
Dr. Nader Soliman, M.D., Anesthesiologist,
President of the American Academy of Medical Acupunture (2003-2005)
President, Alternative Medicine Seminars
The World’s Foremost Authority on Auricular Medicine
"Auricular therapy can reduce the tension, stress, and pain not fully relieved by other medical procedures”
Dr. Terry Oleson, PhD., Psychobiology,
- Pioneer on auricular diagnosis at the UCLA Pain Management Center
- Research Director at the American University of Complementary Medicine
"For chronic conditions, auricular therapy is better than [body] acupuncture… The body heals pain through the brain rather than by pharmacological methods that only suppress the pain signal (along with other vital functions).”
Darrell Stoddard, Board Certified Auricular Therapist, Founder, the Pain Research Institute
- Author, "Pain Free For Life"
"Auricolotherapy is a treatment diffusing in all over the World"
“In the last years modern clinical and basic research is confirming the efficacy of ear acupuncture mostly in the treatment of pain both acute and chronic, and of anxiety related disorders…
Dr. Luigi Gori, M.D., Dr. Fabio Firenzuoli, M.D.
– “Ear Acupuncture in European Traditional Medicine"
- Center of Natural Medicine, S. Giuseppe Hospital, Empoli, Italy.
Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine
(Vol. 9, No. 3, 1994)
“At the Center [for Improvement for Human Functioning, Wichita, Kansas], auricular therapy is used as a diagnostic and therapeutic option.
It is relatively painless, inexpensive, easy to use in experienced hands and may give immediate results. We recommend its use.
Dr. James Jackson, PhD, MT,
- Professor and Assistant Dean, Wichita State University Graduate School
"There is increasing evidence that ear acupuncture can be helpful in the treatment of migraine”
Marco Romoli, M.D.
- "Ear acupuncture in the control of migraine pain: selecting the right
acupoints by the “needle-contact test”
From: Neurological sciences: official journal of the Italian Neurological Society and of the Italian Society of Clinical Neurophysiology
Auriculotherapy is a sophisticated discipline of acu- puncture that can be studied to a refined level of precision”
“Used in an integrated medical model, acupuncture is well suited to deal with many of the functional problems that allopathic medicine is not equipped to address. The result is patient and physician satisfaction."
Dr. Farshad Ahadian, M.D.
- Medical Director, the Center for Pain Medicine at University of California, San Diego