5 Element Acupuncture: An Overview

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Human Beings are inexorably connected to the natural world that we inhabit. It is impossible for us not to be affected by the changing seasons and the energy that links them, moves through them, and distinguishes them from each other. 5-Element theory/acupuncture arose from this connection and from the Chinese scholars’ ability to contextualize and categorize this universal interrelationship. Simply put, each season: Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn, and Winter; belongs to one of the 5 elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water respectively.

If for example, we look to springtime, as many of us likely are, the governing element is Wood. In Chinese Medicine, the Wood Element’s corresponding organ systems are Liver (yin) and Gall Bladder (yang, pronounced yong). This means that during the springtime, the energy (or Qi) in one’s body is most active in these systems. This continues throughout the year with the life force moving through the whole organism and at different times concentrating in each of the 12 major body systems. Incidentally, this cycle of energy also follows a daily cycle, moving through each of the 12 meridians and their corresponding organ systems in 2-hour blocks. As a result, at a given time of day, or given season of the year the bodies energy is connected to, focused in, and governed by a particular element, and more specifically an organ system within that element.

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One of the many applications of this paradigm is that each of us, upon conception, is ordained to be one of 12 constitution types associated with each of the 12 organ systems within’ the 5-element framework. The scholars believe that each of us is born to walk a certain path; to fulfill a unique destiny. The closer one comes to walking their “path”, the more vitality, balance, health, and happiness in their lives. Furthermore, based on their given constitution, each individual gets a particular colored lens with which they view their lives and interactions with others. For example, someone that is a Gallbladder (Wood) constitution type may have a worldview and way of relating that is far different from a person who is a Pericardium (Fire) constitution; versus a Kidney (Water) constitution and so on. One’s constitution plays a role in every aspect of life. The emotions that rule them, the diseases they are most susceptible to, the shapes of their bodies, and the way they interact with others; all are linked to the predominant element.

Specifically, one’s coloring, odor, sound of voice, and dominant emotion all are dictated by elemental constitution. Along with tongue and pulse diagnosis, palpation, and a detailed intake conversation, the skilled acupuncturist well versed in 5-element theory can help decode a person’s presenting signs and symptomology in order to develop an appropriate treatment plan. From here, acupuncture points and adjunct therapies can be used to help balance a patient’s energetics. Treatment is tailored to the individual and the aim is to treat the root of the problem, not simply pacify symptoms. Acupuncture and related modalities seek to harness the bodies innate ability to heal itself and restore equilibrium. These therapies can address a whole myriad of health concerns ranging from herniated disc pain, to frozen shoulder, to depression, to hot flashes, to infertility.

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What I love most about this work is how I can help people in all areas of their lives. Someone may initially come in with shoulder pain and that can absolutely be addressed, but before we know it, we’re delving into emotional trauma that may have taken place in childhood. I try to meet my patients where they are in their journeys and help guide them as far as they are willing to go. One person came in with debilitating leg cramps. I was able to help her with that complaint and also alleviate migraine head aches that had been occurring regularly with severity for 30 years. Another came in with dysmenorrhea (painful menses), and not only was able to greatly relieve her pain and regulate her cycle, but also create some life shifts that have completely changed her relationship to the world. This medicine can help people understand life long patterns and relationships, and lay the groundwork for shifts in energy and perspective that positively affect the whole being: body, mind, heart, and soul.

 

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Eric is a licensed acupuncturist, licensed massage therapist, registered yoga teacher, and personal fitness trainer. He practices out of Brewster Chiropractic in Brewster and out of his home office in East Harwich. Eric has been a teacher for the past 18 years and has been in the field of health and wellness since 2008. He blends his diverse interests and disciplines in a unique way that serves the whole individual. Combining east and west, art and science, and heart and mind, Eric will help you rediscover balance, inside and out.