An Ounce of Prevention…

I’ve heard people say, “But there is nothing wrong with me. Why would I get acupuncture?” Prevention! Acupuncture works with the energetic patterns that create physical illness. Something doesn’t need to be wrong with you to have successful and beneficial acupuncture treatments.

Five Elements
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.

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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.

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There is plenty of information out there on the use of acupuncture for pain relief. But acupuncture can treat much, much more than pain. I’ve helped people with:

  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • menstruation issues
  • endometriosis
  • menopause
  • infertility
  • migraines
  • arthritis
  • fatigue
  • urinary issues
  • digestive issues
  • allergies
  • social phobia
  • tinnitus
  • asthma

For a complete list of the benefits of acupuncture, please visit The World Health Organization’s webpage.