Dr. Eberharter has been Board Certified in Medical Acupuncture since 2009 and practicing Acupuncture since 1998. Although the Five Element style is her favorite she uses a variety of approaches including ear acupuncture and dry needling for musculoskeletal issues. She finds acupuncture to be especially useful for emotional and mental concerns as well as the classic problems of back pain, neck pain and acute injury. Integration of Functional Medicine principles during the acupuncture treatments is used for greater effectiveness.
Five Element Acupuncture
Five Element Acupuncture was introduced to England and later the United States by Dr. J.R. Worsley from his studies in asia after the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It is based on a model of people being part of the natural world around us. The model poses that everyone goes in and out of balance as life and the seasons are ever changing.
Our goal is to nurture the healthy aspects of each element or season and achieve a balance among them. It is inevitable that we will become out of balance and we can become more aware of those shifts to minimize them and return to balance. Each season has activities and foods which are most nourishing to us in that time – we are happy to provide you with more reading material if you are interested. Please enjoy this visual tour of the Elements.
The Wood Element is very exciting and expansive – the beginning of yang or outward movement associated with spring. The growth of a tree is a perfect metaphor for wood. Its’ power is seen in the root that pushes through a cement sidewalk – a life force that cannot be stopped. A healthy wood energy requires planning, organization and good decision-making – just like the growth of a tree. It is represented in the body by the liver and gallbladder, which certainly direct traffic for the entire digestion and metabolism, helping to keep things moving smoothly. They also supervise the tendons and ligaments (how we move) and can create too much tension in the body or mind by getting overly busy. The wood can get frustrated or angry if things are not moving forward and patience can be an important lesson. Wood is also the place of vision and creating a big picture for the future. The wood is like a good general – it does what is best for the whole and gets everyone working together.
The summer is the season of the fire element. It represents life at it’s most outward with maximal expression of creativity and movement. The chaos of an abundant garden with all the plants fruiting is a good image of the fire element. Music and dancing, socializing with friends and children running with playful abandon into the evening hours are essential parts of fire. This element is the energy of play, spontaneity, love and sexuality. The heart channel is thought to represent the soul in Chinese medicine and because of its’ importance is given three other fire channels to protect it. These regulate our emotional sensitivity, our ability to warm the body evenly, and most importantly our capacity for joy.
The Earth element belongs to the time between summer and fall – sometimes called Indian summer – when harvest occurs and there is a balance between the outward or yang energy and the inward or yin energy. All is in balance. The Earth energy is about nourishment and family, caring for others and ourselves. It is for obvious reasons associated with the female and with the archetype of the mother specifically. The earth element helps us assimilate and digest new experiences, find satisfaction in our lives and know our limits. Our immune system is associated with one of the earth channels (spleen) and literally keeps invaders out, protecting all the cells of the body. It is also thought that the Earth element is active between each change of season at the point where there is a balance between the old and the new.
The Metal Element is the most abstract of the archetypes. It represents the inner minerals and gems within the earth and has to do with hidden or invisible value. The season of Metal is the fall and as such is the beginning of decay, going inward and becoming quiet. It is associated with the father because the father is important in helping the child have self worth and know that they are valued. The channels which do the work of the metal are the lung (for inspiration and connection to heaven) and the large intestine (for letting go of that which we no longer need). The emotion of the metal is sadness and the metal encourages us to find our inner spiritual strength in times of grief or loss. It assists us in finding meaning when it is elusive.
The Water Element has many facets just like water itself. It can be elusive and silent or massive and overpowering. Its’ time of year is the Winter when the entire planet depends on the water reserves which are created. Winter should be a time of rest and restoration of resources – darkness and cold encourage this but our culture does not make good use of the wisdom of winter. It is indeed the energy of the intellect and reason and it’s channels are the Kidney and Bladder. The kidneys are associated with the ancestral life force, longevity and reproduction, while the bladder is associated with emotions. Water teaches us to adapt, be flexible and can be playful or fearsome. When out of balance here we can be frozen in fear or have trouble knowing our limits. The Water is the place of the storyteller – spending winter evenings passing on wisdom with the telling of stories is a fitting image for the water.