screen shot 2014-10-28 at 1.38.20 pm
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5-e chart


Many people these days are turning to acupuncture and other alternative treatments. Maybe traditional medical care isn't fully supporting them.  Or, maybe there is something about a person's life that still doesn't feel in balance, and something is not quite right. Currently, about 1/3rd of the world's population uses Acupuncture as their main form of health care, and more and more people (especially in the U.S.) are turning to Chinese medicine as a viable, practical, and cost efficient way to reclaim and maintain health. 


Acupuncture works by stimulating and affecting the Qi energy that flows through the meridians of the body.  Most symptoms can be described as Qi energy not flowing smoothly, or not being properly regulated.  


Throughout each day and night, Qi flows through the body and has specific tasks and functions which keep the body healthy, energized, and upright.  If this energy flow is cramped or stagnated in one place, then that stagnation not only affects the local area and function, but has a cascading effect throughout the body, mind, and spirit.   


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the type of acupuncture practiced by the majority of acupuncturists in the U.S. today.  It was formed under Mao Zeong, the leader of the Communist party of China in the early 1900s.  This was a time of great strife in the health of the Chinese population as a whole. The Cultural Revolution of Mao and the Communist party made a concerted effort to modernize and Westernize the practice of Chinese medicine. This effectively removed much of the spiritual and nature based/shamanic roots from which Chinese medicine evolved. 


As might be surmised, TCM tends to focus more on the treatement of symptoms. While this can often work well in reducing symptoms, it can fail to truly treat the cause of disease - the reason we fell ill in the first place.  As J.R. Worsley has said, "If your 'Check Engine' light comes on in your car, will putting a bandaid over the light fix the problem?" Most people would say no. This is why I practice Classical Five-Element Acupuncture - it goes to the root, treating the cause of your symptoms. This is a unique, amazing, and subtle process - one in which many symptoms other than a person's main complaint can be healed.  



At Vital Traditions, we practice Classical Five-Element Acupuncture (CFEA).  CFEA was brought to this country by Dr. J. R. Worlsey, an English osteopathic doctor in the mid 1900s.  The roots of this style of acupuncture come from the Han Dynasty, when the ancient Chinese doctors emphasized the strong connection between the whole of Nature, the Five Elements, and human health.  Just as Nature has its ebbs and flows, so does the human experience and human health.  Through CFEA, we can help clients to find balance within the ebbs and flows, and help guide clients toward a more vital and full experience of life.  One essential way that CFEA does this is by treating the core of a person, not just the symptoms they are presenting.  


While many acupuncturists and medical practitioners today treat the symptoms a person comes in with, CFEA practioners treat the whole person who is coming in with the symptoms. When you treat the whole person at the cause of their disease, at the very root, many other ailments of the body, the mind, and the spirit are also alleviated in addition to a person's main complaints.  The difference is a world apart. A person who experiences CFEA is often left with a feeling of overall wellbeing, less stress, better sleep, and many other benefits.  


The body, the mind, and the spirit are intimately and inextricably linked. If a person is ill, we cannot just treat the body and expect results.  We must treat the body, the mind, and the spirit as a whole, and when we do this, people can reach a full and deep sense of health and wellbeing.  


If Classical Five-Element Acupuncture sounds like a good fit for you, contact us to set up an appointment or a free consultation to talk more. We happily hold phone consultations, as well as free 15 minute in-person consultations, at our various offices. We want to be a partner in your health goals, and want to ensure everybody who comes to us for help knows what to expect, and feels comfortable and welcomed. 




Five-Element chart by J.R. Worsley

Chinese acupuncture and moxabustion chart - Neiting

What to Expect in an Acupuncture Treatment

One of the aspects of Classical Five-Element Acupuncture that makes it so unique and so powerful is that each person is always treated in a individualized manner. Twenty people could come in with lower back pain, and each one would recieve a totally different treatment. We take the necessary time to get to know you on a much deeper level than your typical health care practitioner - this allows us to tailor each treatment to exactly what you are wanting and needing.  


Intake - the first appointment:

When you begin acupuncture treatment with us, the first order of business is the intake exam. Only one intake is needed per person. During this time together, we spend about 1-2 hours thoroughly going over your health history, curent experience with symptoms, lifestyle habits, and many other aspects of your life.


This is a very powerful time, not only for a person to reflect more deeply about their life experience, but this intake also allows us to make a full traditional diagnosis. This full diagnosis is the basis for each client's highly individualized care.  If you've ever gone for a doctor visit only to have them spend 10 minutes with you, you'll know the importance and the comfort of a practitioner taking the necessary time.  Practically, the intake is typically about 1 hour of dialogue, and is followed by a short physical exam and initial treatment.


The purpose of the physical exam is to look for and identify anything that could be affecting your symptoms on a physical level. Range of motion, leg length, blood pressure, joint function assessments, light abdominal palpation, and a few other acupuncture examinations are all included. This gives us invaluable information regarding a client's state of health and wellbeing, and helps us tailor highly individualized treatments for our clients.  We ask clients to put on a gown or cover with a blanket during the physical examination to maintain modesty, while also ensuring sufficient access to the back, the abdomen, and various parts of the body.




Treatments will typically last from 45 minutes to an hour, and consist of both acupuncture and moxabustion (the burning of a medicinal herb on the acupuncture point). We begin each session with a 15-20 minute intake to get a sense of where you are in that moment, and where you need support on that day. After our intake session, the treatment begins.


In CFEA, we use a needling technique that is more focused on accuracy than is typical in the modern acupuncture field.  We insert the needle, connect with the acupuncture point, and remove it immediately as opposed to leaving the needle in the body for extended periods. 


For moxabustion, a very small cone of dried mugwort herb is placed on the acupuncture point, and lit with an incense stick.  This herb, as it slowly burns down, gently warms the skin, the tissue, and the acupuncture point below.  The warmth and sensation from the moxa is both very relaxing as well as nourishing. It is never allowed to burn to the point of discomfort.  Moxa is prepared from the mugwort plant, Artemisia vulgaris, and has many medicinal properties that work well with acupuncture. While we use moxa in conjunction with acupuncture, moxabustion can be used as a treatment all by itself!


The frequency of treatment is just as important as the quality of treatment. You can recieve the best acupuncture treatment in the world, but if you don't have the consistency of regular acupuncture treatments to support your mind, body, and spirit, you will not recieve the full benefit. Acupuncture works by building upon the previous treatments - just as we start building a house by pouring the foundation and methodically building up from there.  While acupuncture can often have seemingly miraculous results, it is not a silver bullet. Consistent, high-quality treatment helps to ensure that our clients build and maintain higher levels of bountiful, vital health.


Different grades of Moxa