While Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the more commonly practiced system of Chinese medicine, which I do as well… I found a passion in what is called Classical Five-Element Acupuncture (CFEA). TCM is a wonderful system of medicine, using many diagnostic/treatment principles found in Western medicine. Read more about how I use it here.
Early in my residency, I realized I needed to go beyond the symptoms. CFEA is a truly holistic system of medicine rather than symptom-based, and seeks to treat the deepest layers first. It’s like throwing a big rock into the deepest part of the pond to make the most widespread ripple effect of change throughout the entire eco-system. This eco-system is your body… and it is more than skin-deep!
The core teachings of CFEA are thousands of years old, rooted in the wisdom of the ancient Taoist philosophers and sages that everything is interconnected, in perpetual change, and always moving toward harmony with its environment. They observed that all which exists in the Universe is made up of the five elements – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. They represent five phases of a cycle that all energy flows through. In Nature, we see and feel the five-element cycle throughout the year as seasons – Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Each phase is unique, but also dependent on the others for vitality and balance. In people, the five elements flow from one to the next via our energetic pathways, called meridians. This network of meridians and the quality of Qi flowing in them is the backbone for all processes essential for physical, mental, and spiritual life.
In this system, the goal of treatment is always to simply balance and fortify the 5 Elements within an individual. Think of a pie-chart with five sections - each section should be in relative harmony with one another. Even if just one, is a big fat slice or a super thin slice… how do you think that affects the whole?! There is where we get “symptoms” or “dis-ease”. Conversely, when the five elements are in harmony with one another, then our own innate wisdom of healing processes are catalyzed, and our potential to shift, expand, and create profound systemic long-lasting change can really happen.
And from person to person, that can look dramatically different. Sometimes it means the body can finally let someone sleep, have less migraines, have more energy, overcome addiction, have better digestion, get pregnant, heal an injury, recover from chemotherapy, or connect better with the people around them. How this unfolds is not up to me, but it is one of the things I love so much about my "job". My role is to remind or facilitate the energetic shifts that need to happen via the Five Elements, and then let that inner wisdom take over. Sounds over-simplified and like a lot of woo-woo, right?! I know.
What I can tell you is that in the many years I have been working with CFEA, I have seen this truly holistic approach help people of all walks of life, time and time again, with an extraordinary variety of diagnoses and symptoms. This is a model of medicine that sees people as more than just their diagnoses and symptoms, and this kind of "acknowledgement" can not just be healing, but truly nourishing and empowering.
If you would like to learn more about the Five Elements and the Meridians that go along with them, please click on any of the links below: