About 5 Element Acupuncture
Classical 5 Element Acupuncture
Classical 5 Element Acupuncture is drawn from the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine. Its reliance on the laws of nature and its ability to reach all levels of illness – body, mind and spirit – set it apart from other systems of medicine.
In Chinese medicine it is recognized that the essential ingredient of life is "Qi,” the vital force that controls the function of all organs and systems in the body. Qi is the spark of life in all living things. Qi is the basis for and can be recognized through movement.
The ancient Chinese masters observed that Qi moves in cycles and they named these cycles the "Wu Hsing" or 5 Great Changes. These 5 phases of the journey of QI became known as the five elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. These five elements describe the characteristics of QI as it moves through seasons and lifetimes and as it manifests on a day to day level in nature and in human beings.
When nature is healthy Qi is flowing through its 5 phases in balance and harmony. When one of the elements is depleted or excessive in strength, the symptoms of illness result. Without water or sunshine the tree will wither and die. Without rich earth, full of minerals, no plants will grow. When the rain is excessive the earth is flooded and life is washed away. So it is with the human body. When Qi flows in the correct strength and quality we are healthy. In illness the flow of Qi is impaired.
5 Element Acupuncture asserts that every person is born with a propensity to an imbalance in one of the 5 elements. This imbalance manifests primarily in the body, the mind or the spirit and becomes the root cause of an illness. Because body, mind and spirit are inseparable and the 5 elements are all interdependent, this root imbalance will eventually show symptoms at any of the levels and in many of the elements.
The key to diagnosis in Classical 5 Element Acupuncture is discerning the root imbalance, (what we call the causative factor). Each element has a corresponding color, sound, odor and emotion that can be perceived when that element is out of balance. The Classical 5 Element practitioner is trained to see, hear, smell and feel these signs of elemental imbalance and to perceive the level at which the imbalance is rooted.
Each person is unique. Even though people's symptoms may be similar each person's causative factor is unique to them and the treatment is based on the individual need of each person.
What is a treatment like and how does it work?
Acupuncture points are located on the energy pathways called meridians. By using needles and moxabustion on selected points the practitioner can directly effect the flow and quality of Qi.
Needles that are as thin as a hair are gently inserted into points that are chosen based on the patient's needs at the time of the treatment. The needles are high quality stainless steel. They are sterile and disposable, thrown away after each treatment.
Manipulation of the needles can draw energy to an area that is deficient and disperse energy that is stuck. Sensations felt may vary between a mild sharpness on insertion to a brief ache or twingeness. This is usually followed by a sense of well being and relaxation as the Qi is stimulated. I often tell my patients, "Acupuncture is pain free but not sensation free." People invariably come to associate the sensation of needling with feeling better and getting well.
Frequently, a special herb called Chinese Mugwort is used to heat the point prior to needling. This process is called moxabustion – moxa for short. We refer to it as "warming the house before the guest arrives."
A small cone of moxa is placed on the point, lit, allowed to burn, and when the warmth is felt, removed. Moxa strengthens and revitalizes the QI as well as restoring balance. Patients grow to love Moxa because it is so nurturing. It gives the sensation of being filled with warmth and strength.
What happens in the initial exam?
The first visit to a Classical 5 Element acupuncturist is our opportunity to get to know the patient well enough to make an accurate diagnosis. It is up to two hours long and includes an interview and treatment. The interview will cover a patient's medical history, current complaint and a brief personal history. The Chinese pulses are taken which give the practitioner information about the state of the QI and reveals any energy blocks.
The causative factor, based on the patient's color, sound, odor and emotion, is more accurately determined when the practitioner and patient have time to form a comfortable connection. It is requested that patients wear no make-up or scent when coming for a treatment.
What about follow up treatments?
Follow up treatments are approximately an hour long. The patient has time to talk about what has been happening since the last visit. We discuss how they are doing on all levels and what is going on in their lives. This is essential information for the practitioner because treatment is always based on the current situation of body, mind and spirit. Pulses are taken at each treatment. Suggestions about possible nutritional or lifestyle changes that would support healing are discussed throughout.
How many treatments are needed?
Acupuncture works best when done consistently until the patient is feeling better. This will vary depending on the duration and severity of the illness and the lifestyle and other factors that are contributing to it.
Typically, treatments are given once a week for 6 to 8 weeks and then spread to 2 weeks, 3 weeks and a month as healing progress is made. Once health is regained a program of maintenance is decided. Classical 5 Element Acupuncture is a preventative system of medicine as well as curative and it is recommended that patients come in for periodic tune-ups. The pulses can often reveal if anything is going wrong even before it manifests as symptoms. Most of us take our cars in for regular maintenance – our bodies and health being our greatest investment – should not receive any less care.
How much does it cost?
The first visit, (2 hours), Costs: $150
Regular Visits are: $100
My cancellation policy is: 24 hours notice is required to cancel or change an appointment. As I book a full hour for each patient, the missed appointment cost is the full fee of $100. Exceptions are made in emergency situations.
Herbs and nutritional supplements are additional.
What can acupuncture be used to treat?
Symptoms are distress signals produced by the body/mind/spirit when it is out of balance. 5 Element Acupuncture is unique because it treats the root cause of that imbalance and as the person heals, the symptoms disappear.
Because Chinese medicine is a full system of medicine, it can potentially treat anything. It has been found to be particularly effective in the west for pain problems; back and neck pain, tendonitis, sports injuries, knee injuries, fibromyalgia and headaches - including migraines. Digestive and gynecological illnesses are frequently responsive to acupuncture. Immunity problems, degenerative diseases, chronic fatigue and energy problems in general can be helped in many instances where western medicine has no answers. Stress related, emotional and mental problems respond to 5 Element Acupuncture as it treats at the spirit and mental levels.
Chinese Medicine is at its strongest in preventative medicine where the goal is to bring a person into balance and maintain them there. When a person is in balance, life and its inevitable ups and downs become more workable and there is strength and energy to deal with what comes.
What about herbs?
The Chinese herbal system is a time tested and elegant system. Herbal prescriptions are based on a Chinese medicine diagnosis that treats the root of the problem, not just symptoms. The Chinese herbal masters developed hundreds of classical formulas where the herbs balance, support and strengthen each other. Because of this side effects are rare. The herbs I carry in my clinic are of the highest quality, organic and quality controlled. They are available in capsule, pill or liquid forms. My patients benefit from my 25 years of experience as an herbalist. Herbal prescriptions are offered as an integral part of most healing programs.
What kind of nutritional consultation is offered?
Functional medicine is a form of clinical nutrition that emphasizes using food as medicine. It was based, originally, on the work of Linus Pauling, (well known for receiving a Nobel Prize for his work with Vitamin C). Carried on by his assistant, Dr. Jeffrey Bland, it has matured into a comprehensive system of metabolic medicine. I have studied with Dr. Bland for the last 10 years. In my clinic, I work with patients to support their healing with good nutrition. I ask patients to do a food journal, which we review together. I also make suggestions regarding supplementation when needed.