What is the difference between 5 Element Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture?

My foundational training in acupuncture is through the Traditional Chinese Medicine tradition. This is typical standard training in Canada and many parts of the world in order to become a Registered/Licensed Acupuncturist like myself. This foundational training is 2-3 years in length and thousands of hours of educational and clinical training. (As you know, there is a big difference between the ‘acupuncture’ that is provided from other healthcare professionals who offer it as an additional modality versus acupuncture offered by a Registered Acupuncturist).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture is great when it comes to supporting people with acute  chronic physical conditions. It utilizes many different theories of Chinese Medicine to address imbalances the 5 organ systems, musculoskeletal system, nervous system and endocrine system. Many years ago, alongside much political change in China, the teachings of Chinese Medicine were condensed from the classical texts to something that could be more accessible to the masses and to help many people at once (like in Chinese hospitals), especially with acute conditions. Although there is an emotional component, most of the training in TCM is focused on physical gross symptoms as a priority.  However, over time more of the complex teachings of the classical Chinese Medicine texts weren’t taught as much which include how the spirit, mind and emotions play an important role in healing.

Chinese Medicine is an ever evolving medicine. Although what we know of today as ‘5 element acupuncture’ was created in the 1970s by J.R. Worsley and other teachers, it is rooted in the classical texts of Chinese Medicine during the Han dynasty (years -202 to +220 through the Nei Jing and Nan Jing texts).  Five Element acupuncture adapted Chinese Medicine to make it more appropriate for the typical western patient who often struggles from chronic issues by creating treatments focused on a person’s individual constitution. This is based on the 5 elements (earth, metal, water, wood, fire). TCM also has foundations in the 5 elements but 5 Element acupuncture expands upon the same concepts in more depth. It focuses very deeply as the emotions, mind, belief systems, and spirit according to the patient’s constitution and how it communicates with the physical body as one interdependent unit. The classical texts say that all disease originally begin with an imbalance/attachment to an emotion.

In essence, 5 element acupuncture is about promoting connection and flow within a person so they are deeply engaged within themselves and their environment. It can provide a deep sense of peace, contentment, purpose and opened perspectives on many levels.

My first experience with acupuncture was in 2014 through 5 element acupuncture. It changed my life in so many ways which is one of the reasons I wanted to be an acupuncturist. As of May 2023, I will be completing a 2 year post graduated training in 5 element acupuncture from my teacher, Lonny Jarrett. Lonny has expanded and also deepened 5 element acupuncture in his own way through his 40 year career. He offers many courses to acupuncturists around the world but also to the general public who are just open to growing personally.

Although I will continue to implement TCM in my sessions, I will continue to be implementing more 5 element acupuncture as well. I’m honored to have the privilege to be committed to continue to learn more about Chinese Medicine, up level my skills so you can not only see change within yourself, but grow to your highest potential.

As a white bodied person I would like to recognize that although this medicine helps millions of people around the world, it originates and belongs to the peoples of China, Japan, Taiwan and other countries of Asian ancestry. I am privileged to be able to share this medicine with others. Although Chinese Medicine is an evolving medicine, my aim is to stay as true to the original teachings as best I know how. This is why it is imperative to continue to seek out acupuncture from a Registered Acupuncturist so that the teachings continue to grow and evolve in depth instead of being watered down by mainstream western medicine as a ‘quick fix’ or adjunct modality.