"Within every patient there resides a doctor. And we as physicians are at our best when we put our patients in touch with the doctor inside themselves." - Doctor Albert Schweitzer
What is Acupuncture?
The underlying principle of treatment is that illness and pain occur when the body’s qi (pronounced chee), or vital energy and blood cannot flow freely around the body. The systems that carry qi through the body are called meridians or Channels and they unify all parts of the body. The free flow of qi along these pathways is essential for the body's maintenance and balance. The overall aim of acupuncture treatment is to restore the body’s equilibrium by creating a free-flow of qi in the meridians as an energetic blockage of qi can be a cauase of disease. This free-flow is maintained by needling specific acupuncture points along these meridians.
Acupuncture is a healthcare system based on the ancient principles of Chinese Medicine which is the oldest continuous recorded medical system dating back at least 2000 years. Inherent to this system of medicine is a precise and predictable system of diagnosis and formulation of treatment.
Rather than labelling diseases the Acupuncturist instead describes and categorises the pattern of symptoms and signs which an individual manifests under certain circumstances.
It has a very positive model of good health and function, and looks at pain and dis-ease as signs that the body is out of balance.
A great deal of research has been done in recent years to understand how acupuncture works according to Western biomedicine and physiology. This research has shown that acupuncture releases pain-relieving opioids into the central nervous system, increases blood flow to affected or injured areas and releases endorphins and neurotransmitters into the endocrine and nervous systems.
History of Five Element Acupuncture and what makes it different from TCM
At its origin acupuncture in China was handed down by an oral tradition and taught by experience and example through many generations from Master to student; as a consequence there emerged many different styles of practice.
Medicine in China traditionally had a spiritual core since at the heart of Chinese philosophy was a regard for nature as inspiration; namely Daoism and Naturalism. Encompassed in this philosophy was the idea that all of nature is governed by yin/yang and the Fire Elements - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water - and their interrelationships. As a consequence acupuncture had a common spiritual core.
However, at the time of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and Chairman Mao (1966-76) a decision was made to standardise the practice of acupuncture. Concerned with maintaining a fully functional labour force for the emerging factories the Communist government was more interested in workers’ physical welfare over their emotional/spiritual well-being and consequently much of acupuncture’s spiritual element was cast aside and separated from its roots in 5-Element theory. The resulting collection of standardised techniques and knowledge was ironically given the name “Traditional Chinese Medicine” (TCM). This standardisation was seen as giving clarity to agreed-upon techniques, however, it emerged from a concern in addressing the workers’ physical symptoms only.
Five-Element Acupuncture therefore left China at this time to be practiced in such countries as Japan. However in the 1970’s this original form of acupuncture was brought to the UK. The College of Integrated Chinese Medicine, set up in 1993, teaches acupuncture which integrates both TCM and 5-Element to students from all over the world including China. This integration of the two systems treats both Mind and Body - the original form of acupuncture - to treat the holistic 'whole'.
Why is Five Element Acupuncture so uniquely suited to treating disease in the modern West?
I combine Traditional Chinese Medicine with 5-Element acupuncture which involves treating at a physical as well as an emotional/spiritual level with treatment aimed at the root cause of the disharmony. Because if this 5-Element acupuncture is ideally suited to treating the health problems we are now seeing in the West with a high proportion of patients with longer-term chronic problems presenting a mix of physical as well as psychological issues.
Treatment is aimed at the root cause of the condition and not solely the outward manifestation; i.e. not simply treating the pain and stiffness of arthritis but treatment instead aimed at the root cause of the arthritis as well as also addressing the pain and stiffness. Each patient is unique, two people with the same western diagnosis may well receive different acupuncture treatments. The physical, emotional and mental aspects (body, mind and spirit) of a person are seen as interdependent, and reflect what many people perceive as the connection between the different aspects of their lives.
The 5-Element approach helps with resolving health issues but also enhancing your feeling of wellness in general. Acupuncture can also be used to maintain physical and emotional health.