As strange as it may sound, acupuncture today is not necessarily reflective of how it was less than 200 years ago. Then, Five Element Acupuncture was the standard.
Five Element Acupuncture
Much is made of the difference in Western style medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Where Western medicine is seen as being more concerned with treating the disease, Traditional Chinese Medicine treats the person. While this is very true, it is important to note that there is a division within Chinese Medicine also. This difference is seen in the art of acupuncture. The classical form of acupuncture that developed over the centuries in China was known as Five Element acupuncture.
When the Communist government of China began to repress classical Chinese Medicine and deriding it as superstitious and old fashioned. The Chinese leaders felt that adherence to the old ways would hold back China from emerging as a World Power. When they decided that it was not possible nor in the best interest of the country to abandon their century old traditions, they still attempted to remove much of the spiritual part of the treatments. The resulting form of acupuncture which is now part of Traditional Chinese Medicine differs in many ways from the classical Five Element form of the past.
Classical Five Element acupuncture is concerned with the complete emotional and spiritual well being of the patient and not just the external symptoms of the disease. It attempts to treat the body, the mind, the heart, and the spirit in an attempt to restore natural harmony to the life of the patient. It is believed that once this harmony is restored good health will follow. Five Element acupuncture takes its name from the theory of five elements that is very much a part of the Chinese view of nature. The five elements are fire, earth, metal, water, and wood.
Each of these elements is present in some degree in every person. Although each person tends to be dominated by one particular element, they are all connected and interconnected with the person. It is by understanding these connections and any disharmony in them that a full diagnosis is reached. The natural harmony can then be restored through the application of needles, heat, pressure, and even massage to the proper acupuncture body points.
Each element is further associated with a season and an emotional state. Fire is the summer element and is connected to feelings of joy. Earth is the late summer element and sympathy is the emotion. Metal is the autumn element associated with grief. Water is the winter element involved with fear. Finally, wood is the spring element and is connected to the emotion of anger.