Five Element Acupuncture, as taught by Professor J.R. Worsley

Also called Classical Acupuncture

The primary focus of acupuncture treatment in ancient China, thousands of years ago, was to PREVENT illness and to keep people in a state of wellness. Many people today don’t think of maintaining their health – most of us are guilty of waiting until our situation becomes extremely uncomfortable or even unbearable, before we seek help. But why wait until we are in a state of dis-ease? Once we have waited that long, our body systems have progressed far down that pathway away from wellness, and it takes far longer to effect change and help the person regain their strength and vitality.

I enjoy working with clients who desire to stay healthy and reduce stress in their lives with regular attention to their body’s needs. No matter the treatment goal, acupuncture benefits the body by reducing stress. Stress has been referred to as America’s number one health problem. It comes from a myriad of sources – work, finances, relationships, family, daily life. Stress is an inherent part of Life and not something we can eliminate. What we can do,  however, and what acupuncture can be wonderful for, is to change our response to stress. Acupuncture gives us a new experience of Life so we can look at it with new eyes and find we are better able to cope with our stresses. This is because we become more in tune with our inner resources and can access our inner vitality to be able to respond to the challenges presented us in Life. Acupuncture is a powerful form of preventive care and stress management.

Many people come to acupuncture because of pain or other symptoms. Acupuncture can, indeed, help with those. Yet, the treatment goal is always to help remove the blocks to healing, so that the body can then heal itself. Acupuncture does not “cure” illness – it supports the body in remembering its ability to self-heal. It does this through balancing the flow of bio-electric energy that courses through the twelve meridian pathways in the body.


What can I expect during an acupuncture treatment?

Columbia County NY AcupunctureThe first session lasts between one-and-one-half and two hours. During this time, we perform an intake interview with the two of us sitting and talking. The client then moves to the treatment table and I perform a short diagnostic exam that helps determine the course and goals of treatment. A first acupuncture treatment also takes place during this first visit. I always explain what I am about to do, so that there are no surprises.

Subsequent sessions last about 45 minutes to an hour. We begin by discussing the client’s experience of the time between treatments and what shifts have occurred. At first, some clients’ symptoms can worsen before they begin to improve. This can actually be a good sign and is not to be seen as discouraging.

How many sessions will I need, and how often?

The effects of acupuncture are cumulative, and in the beginning, any shift away from the pattern of dis-ease is a move towards greater change. The longer a person has had pain or other symptoms, the longer the body has settled in to a pattern that is not one of flow and vitality. It can take several sessions to “retrain” the meridian pathway energy to flow in a healthier manner.  Spacing treatment sessions close together (twice a week) in the beginning is important to gain a momentum in that cumulative benefits experience.

Once a person is feeling substantial shifts, sessions can be spanned out to once a week, and then once every two weeks. Each person is an individual and will need a different number of sessions to reach this point than another person would. Generally, however, most people will need between 10-12 sessions to feel significant improvement. Upon feeling well again, many clients return once a month or seasonally for “tune-ups” and because they like they way acupuncture makes them feel more vital and connected to their source. Some people say these refresher sessions are like a mini-vacation.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture needles are nothing like what we generally think a “needle” is like, for most of us conjure up an image of a hypodermic needle. Acupuncture needles are solid and slender, the thickness of about two hairs. They are also very flexible and feel “soft” when touched from the side.  Generally, the client does not feel the needle when it passes through the  outer layer of the skin. When the needle touches the acupuncture point, there is a sensation that can range from mild to strong of an ache or an electrical pulse. Some clients look forward to this brief sensation.

How safe is it?

Acupuncture is an extremely safe, drug-free therapy. There are virtually no side effects (generally stress-relief is the main “side-effect”!).  One, however, is possible bruising. The point of an acupuncture needle is actually rounded when viewed under a microscope, and this allows all larger blood vessels to roll out of the way of the needle as it approaches its target. Occasionally it is possible to nick a capillary and a bruise can result. Needles are all sterilized, are single-use and are disposed of properly after each client.

Does insurance cover acupuncture?

More and more insurance companies are covering acupuncture treatment. Please call your provider and ask if and under what circumstances they cover acupuncture. If they do provide coverage, I will happily provide you with a receipt that is called a Superbill that you can then send to your company as a claim. You can then be reimbursed according to your policy’s coverage.

Who seeks out acupuncture treatment, and what for?

As previously mentioned, acupuncture is effective at reducing our experience of stress. Research has been done to show that between 60-90% of doctor visits are stress-related. Stress makes everything worse. We can, then, see acupuncture as helping everything feel more manageable. Many veteran clients know it is time for them to come in for an acupuncture treatment when they are feeling “off” or “stuck” in Life in some way, or simply don’t feel as joyful or vital as they generally do.

That being said, the World Health Organization lists specific body systems that acupuncture can address and illnesses it has been found to be helpful for, including:

Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy

Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)

Cardiovascular disorders, including Hypertension and Hypotension

Depression and other Pyschological disorders

Facial pain


Gastrointestinal disorders

Induction of labour

Knee pain

Low back pain

Malposition of fetus

Morning sickness

Nausea and vomiting

Neck pain



Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction

Periarthritis of shoulder

Postoperative pain

Premenstrual syndrome and other Gynecological disorders

Respiratory system disorders

Rheumatoid arthritis




Tennis elbow


Many other diseases, symptoms or conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed are also listed on the full report, which can be found at: