Why Do I Practice Worsley Five-Element Acupuncture?
From an early age I wanted to practice medicine. I yearned for a way of life that would fit my developing sense that people could live healthy and happy lives and that mind and body had to work together for that to happen. My early thoughts were toward medical school and psychology but as a young adult I had the good fortune to be introduced to acupuncture, particularly to the gracious and insightful style practiced and taught by Dr. J.R. Worsley. I have received, practiced and taught this medicine for more than thirty years because I see my professional and personal yearning fulfilled in the lives of my patients.
Can Acupuncture Help Me?
This is the most commonly asked question and the answer is almost always yes . The ancient Chinese understood that illness and any sense of feeling out of sorts is an indication of an underlying imbalance in our fundamental energy. Each person is unique, thus you will be treated uniquely. Between us, we have over 40 years experience helping many people with a wide range of problems with this system of medicine.
What Most People Mean When They Ask …
What most people mean when they ask, “Can you cure migraine, high blood pressure, back pain, sleep disorders, addictions, etc.” is “have you had success with conditions similar to mine?” Even though we are classically trained acupuncturists who have successfully treated many people with those and other diseases and conditions, we can be more certain how much you will benefit from treatment when we complete an examination and see how you respond to the first few treatments.
Because western medicine primarily focuses on treating symptoms, it is common for people to assume acupuncture operates the same way. The ancient Chinese considered an illness an indication of an underlying energy imbalance. Each of us are unique individuals, thus we will each have a different cause for any labeled disease.
What Are the Five Elements and Why Are They Relevant?
According to ancient Chinese philosophy we experience the natural world as the five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water which correspond to Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn and Winter as well as other correspondences. We can observe these natural rhythms and qualities within us as well as in the natural world around us.
For example, the quality of the Wood Element is the infinite power of birth, growth and renewal experienced every second of existence and powerfully full on in the Spring. The Fire Element is like the blood of the universe enriching all life with warmth and tenderness which, though experienced all year long, its energy saturates with the heat and light of the Summer. The Earth Element, no less than the very Mother upon which all creation resides, nourishes and imbues abundance, security and splendor whose associated season of Late Summer explodes with the harvest of all rooted seeds. Each in breath and out breath reflects the Metal Element’s enriching and cleansing cycle of taking in and letting go and its Season of Autumn permeates with awareness of death of all that is relative and created, the season that evokes an aching sense of the passage of time and the constant presence of death. The Water Element providing steady ebb and flow of all that moves is associated with Winter, the season that provides both the reserves upon which all relies as well as the spark that ignites all life.
Each Element also corresponds with and governs the health of our organ systems and our total well being. It is the job of your Five-Element practitioner to carry out such a thorough examination that the Element/organ system that is the root of imbalance reveals itself, thus pointing to the most effective treatment tailored just for you.
How Does It Work?
When very fine acupuncture needles are inserted into particular points that lie along established pathways of energy, imbalances that make us sick can be corrected, giving our whole being’s innate orientation to balance and harmony and imbalances that make us sick can be corrected. Combined with appropriate lifestyle changes this system of medicine is incredibly effective, gentle and elegant.
Classical Chinese medicine recognizes a vital force in the body that governs the balance and health of all the organs and systems of the body. This vital force, or ch’i energy as the Chinese call it, circulates from one organ to another along channels, or pathways, called meridians.
Each meridian is associated with one of the main organs/functions of the body: heart, small intestine, bladder, kidney, heart protector (pericardium), triple-heater, gall bladder, liver, lungs, colon, stomach and spleen. The ch’i energy must flow freely and in the correct strength and quality through each of the meridians and organs in order for us to be healthy in our body, at ease in our mind and vibrant in our spirit. If you are sick, this ch’i energy is out of balance. The pain or symptoms you experience are a distress signal, which notifies us of this imbalance, be it due to physical, mental or spiritual causes.
What Are the “Nuts and Bolts” of Classical Five-Element Treatment?
The initial examination includes a thorough review of your complaints, review of your body systems and a physical examination, which includes a structural exam and the “reading” of the 12 pulses. Then we develop an effective treatment plan, unique to you.
What is “reading” the pulses? A unique and elegant aspect of classical Chinese acupuncture is the palpation of the 12 pulses upon the radial artery of the wrists. This reading gives an enormous amount of information related to the quantity and quality of energy in each of the meridians and their associated organs and functions.
At each of your treatments, your pulses are “read” and moxa* and needles are used. Your response to treatment is carefully monitored. Lifestyle recommendations will be discussed when appropriate. Each time you come for treatment, you’ll have time to tell us of any changes that you notice within yourself.
*Often the acupuncture points are heated with the healing herb, artemesia vulgaris latiflora (moxa) which is rolled into tiny cones and placed on the skin over an acupuncture point, ignited, and removed when you feel its heat. Like needles, moxa revitalizes, reinforces, invigorates and restores balance and harmony to your vital ch’i energy.
How many treatments will I need? This varies from person to person and depends upon the severity of your situation, how long you’ve suffered from it, your lifestyle and other factors including your own unique constitution. Typically treatments begin on a weekly basis for the first 4-6 weeks. As you improve, visits are reduced to every two weeks, three weeks, once a month and so on.
Is Worsley Five-Element Acupuncture Preventative as Well as Curative?
Yes, indeed. It is advisable for healthy patients to come in seasonally for checkups and maintenance, because your pulses reveal a problem before you experience symptoms. Many people choose this system of medicine as both maintenance and preventative health care and have treatment once every month or so. At the minimum we recommend seasonal tunings as part of your get-well stay-well plan.
Is Worsley Five-Element Acupuncture Effective with Children?
Absolutely, there is no age limit and I love treating whole families. My husband and I took our daughter to Dr. J.R. Worsley when she was two years old. She was having an exceptionally difficult time sleeping. He inserted one needle into her wrist for just a moment. She spontaneously threw her arms around him and said “Oh, thank you, I appreciate that!” and slept 7 hours straight that night (something she’d never done before). Perhaps what is even more telling about that treatment is that when she was 4 years old a friend asked her if she remembered her consultation with the Professor and she said: “Oh, yes. Before I saw him my spirit was in a little box and after his treatment, my spirit filled the whole world!”
Can Worsley Five-Element Acupuncture Be Used During Pregnancy?
Yes and it should be administered by a qualified and seasoned practitioner because when treating a pregnant woman, the unborn child is being influenced and treated also. An experienced practitioner can use Worsley Acupuncture to promote a healthy pregnancy, free from morning sickness, weight problems, depression and so on. In the final month of pregnancy, treatment often facilitates a natural delivery.
What About the Needles?
Do the needles hurt? Ah! This is the next most commonly asked question. The needles are about the thickness of 1-2 strands of hair and insertion often goes unnoticed. There can be a sharp or a dull aching sensation when the needle touches the chi’ of the acupuncture point. These sensations are momentary and much less unpleasant than a hypodermic injection.
A classically trained practitioner uses the fewest needles possible to
get the most benefit for you in any given treatment.
Are the Needles Sterilized? Yes. I use the highest quality stainless steel sterilized and disposable needles. They come in pre-sealed packets and are properly disposed of after each use.
Can Worsley Five-Element Acupuncture Help with Non-Physical Problems?
Yes, definitely. Physical disorders can cause an imbalance in your mental outlook and emotional well-being. This may manifest as undue anger, pervasive sadness and the like. Likewise, mental disturbances, stress and emotional conflict can cause a host of physical complaints. All the treatments aim to restore the harmony of the body, the mind and the spirit and as one improves, so do the others.
What Do We Mean by Spirit?
It is the divine sparkle within each and every one of us. It is the natural and spontaneous recognition we see in each other’s eyes. It is the presence that gives purpose and meaning to our lives and our innate ability and need to love and to be loved. Without spirit, presence, we’d be nothing more than clever robots. It fuels our lives and the clearer, stronger and more resilient our access is, the better chance we have in resisting and/or coping with sickness and the ups and downs of our lives.
What About Medication and Other Medical Care?
Western medical care may certainly be used in cooperation with your acupuncture care with me. I need to know what medications/doses you are taking as this is taken into account in the planning and assessment of your treatments. Massage/PT, osteopathic, chiropractic and other therapies can be very helpful.
As you progress, the need for certain drugs may decrease and it may become appropriate to reduce or even discontinue medications, which needs to be done only with the cooperation and approval of the prescribing physician. Many people have reduced or come entirely off their medications for such conditions as high blood pressure, pain, sleep problems, depression, digestive and menstrual disorders as well as others.
© Suzanne S. Burnell 2014. All Rights Reserved.
I am deeply grateful to all of my teachers. Some of the material in this FAQ is from Is Acupuncture for You? by J.R. Worsley and is used with permission from Worsley Inc. and J.B. Worsley
Home Page Photo courtesy of Rob Greebon.