Can surfing help ease combat stress?

Could the best treatments for PTSD have to do with getting totally stoked?

Government researchers in the United Kingdom and even a program associated with the U.S. Marine Corps are exploring the question.

Reports of the research trend come on the heels of a New York Times story this week about scholars seeking federal approval to study the use of marijuana to help treat PTSD symptoms. If approved, some veterans who haven’t responded to other forms of treatment would be given the equivalent of about three marijuana cigarettes a day to treat anxiety, depression, nightmares and other symptoms.

It will probably take a bit of convincing for the U.S. military to embrace the use of marijuana to treat PTSD, especially since it’s still a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to use or possess the drug.

Surfing probably has a better chance of catching on, at least as an unofficial treatment.

A nonprofit organization called the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation developed an “ocean therapy” program at Camp Pendleton, according to the website Miller-McCune.com, in which therapists and surf instructors take Marines for lessons every few weeks. Part of the benefit for soldiers with PTSD, one organizer said, is that the experience can help veterans overcome insomnia just because it wears  them out so quickly.

Marine Lt. Col. Greg Martin, former commander of the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton, told the website, “there’s nothing like surfing to touch the mind, the body and the spirit all at the same time.”


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