Saturday, October 2, 2010

How to approach long-term five element treatment

Many people appear to be puzzled by what they see as the problem of what treatments to give a long-term patient, that is, somebody who returns to us for treatment over many years.

I think this worry is quite unnecessary, because it comes from the mistaken feeling that we need constantly to ring the changes in the points we select. Such a feeling is based on uncertainty and a lack of understanding about what we are doing. We can, I hope, rightly, assume that with long-term patients we have by this time worked out their guardian element, and therefore which element we direct most of our treatment towards. Why, then, do some of us think that it is not enough merely to continue treating this element in the way we have in the past, and in the way that has, presumably, led to the good results which persuade a patient to keep on wanting to come to us year on year? Why not simply repeat the cycle of treatments in some form or other, not necessarily each time using the same points, which have in the past led to such a successful outcome that the patient thinks it good to return to us for more?

To help the many people who have asked me to solve what to them is a problem, and to me appears the simplest part of treatment, I have gone through the files of patients of mine who have been coming to me for treatment for some considerable time, in the cases I selected, from 6 to more than 15 years, looking for examples of treatments for all five elements. I have then listed the treatments I have given them over the past 3 years. People to whom I have given these lists have told me how surprised they are to see how simple my treatments are. If they were to see these patients, I think they would also think how effective these treatments have proved to be.

The elements which have received all these years of treatments, initially as frequently as once or more a week, now as infrequently as a few times a year, are now so attuned to receiving the support offered them by the needle that they need only the slightest nudge to help them back along the path to balance. If, as does of course happen, life deals a patient some heavy blow, then treatment may for a while become more frequent and more intense again, for example if a Husband/Wife imbalance or Aggressive Energy appear, but again the patient’s energy will take a surprisingly short time to re-balance itself compared with similar events happening to a patient in the early stages of treatment.

It is indeed always surprising and heartening for me to observe how somebody who returns to me after an absence of a few years may require just one or two treatments to get them back on track, even though the gap since the last treatment has been so long. It is a sign that the elements have long memories, respond very quickly to the familiar feeling of energy re-charging itself in treatment and yearn to regain balance as quickly as they can.

I hope these lists will help those who are unnecessarily worried about the whole question of long-term treatment, and confirm my firmly-held conviction that, in acupuncture, as well as in many things in life, “less is more”, a term I heard an Indian histrorian using on the radio this week. So simplicity, and thus the least number of needles for the least number of treatments, is what we must always aim at. It is quite clear to me that those who know what they are doing, in whatever field they are working, and here in the field of acupuncture, always do less than those who don’t, and always do it more effectively.

Anybody wishing to have my list of points for long-term treatment can now download the relevant PDF from the SOFEA website,, under Stop Press.

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