Five Element Acupuncture connects the human being through all parts — body, mind and spirit.
Five Element Acupuncture is a holistic approach to medicine that believes all parts of the human being — body, mind, emotions and spirit — are connected and contribute to a state of wellness.
In the Chinese tradition, the five elements, also referred to as phases, are water, wood, fire, earth and metal. The elements correspond to organ systems as well as unique functions. The fire element, for example, is associated with the heart and small intestine, but it also gives the capacity to feel joy, love and be loved, determine what is good from what is not and communicate effectively. The elements represent the cyclic and ceaseless flow of energy throughout nature. All five elements flow within us, but they also simultaneously stir and shift in the world around us. In a state of vibrant health, the elements within us are balanced relative to each other, and the whole organism exists in harmony with the external elements.
The techniques of Five Element Acupuncture, one of the classical traditions of acupuncture, derive from over 3,000 years of observation and refinement. They are rooted in the ancient Chinese classics and evolved in Europe and the United States since the 1960s and 1970s, when the iron curtain lifted for the first time and allowed westerners into China. Acupuncture treatments work by improving the function and balance of organ systems, or officials. Each official has a related meridian, or channel, where the energy wells up to the surface at acupuncture points. Officials are balanced when they fulfill their unique functions for the body, mind and spirit, without interfering with others. Inserting a needle into an acupuncture point gently guides the energy in the associated channel and official to realize its unique role. A series of needles inserted with care and intention ultimately bring the patient to a state of greater well-being.
Similarly, Chinese herbal medicine includes hundreds of formulas designed to act on the officials and balance their energies, and thus can offer valuable support to needle treatments if necessary. There are over 400 medicinal substances to choose from in this system. All the substances are natural, consisting of herbs, seeds, resins, minerals and animal products. Herbs are selected in specific combinations to address each patient’s unique condition and constitution. Often, the herbal formula is taken multiple times over the day and reinforces the energetic movements initiated through acupuncture. Together, these two modalities resolve a great number of physical and psychological difficulties.
Practitioners of Five Element Acupuncture may also identify other meaningful ways to cultivate a connection to the five elements and to the daily and yearly cycles of nature. Going to bed when it is dark and waking up with the sun are simple ways to begin strengthening this connection. Spending time outdoors and noticing the plants and animals of the season is another way that turns people away from their high-stress, electronic-driven existence and returns them to their natural rhythms.
This approach supports patients at every level to realize their deepest potentials, which come with health and balance. Five Elements theory asserts that people are here for a purpose, and reaching health and balance allows people to be themselves fully in the world. Often, we observe fewer physical symptoms and overall improvements in the patient’s quality of life, including renewed spirit, passion and enthusiasm. These are not surprising results, but expected outcomes of successful treatment in the Chinese medical tradition.
Five Element Acupuncture is a potent medicine with the potential to transform people, reframe their perspective and cultivate long-term health. Balancing energy promotes health on all levels — body, mind and spirit. When people feel well, they want to stay well; they begin to take ownership of their health. People change jobs, relationships, careers, how and what they eat and often change their orientation toward what it means to be well. It is also a preventative medicine; after initial symptoms have resolved, patients often continue to receive acupuncture treatments to maintain wellness at times of seasonal change or life transition. For someone curious about what acupuncture has to offer, the best time to begin receiving treatment is always right now.
At the clinic of Academy for Five Element Acupuncture, third-year interns offer acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments to patients under the supervision of expert practitioners and instructors. Those interested in learning more or scheduling an appointment are encouraged to call the clinic at 352.548.2332. Slots available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the drop-in community clinic on Thursdays from 6:15-7:15 p.m. for auricular (ear) acupuncture. We look forward to sharing this remarkable medicine with you.
Photography by John Sloan