Classical 5 Elements: The Acupuncture That Started It All


Classical Five Elements Acupuncture is the style of acupuncture that made me want to become an acupuncturist.  My best friend from childhood, Danny, has a step-father named, Neil, he is an acupuncturist.  An amazing acupuncturist.  So while I grew up around it, I didn’t really know what it was- just that it was this cool, mysterious thing that maybe I was a little intimidated by. 

Why I Went
When I started making my own money at age 19, I was so excited because I could finally go get acupuncture treatments.  I went for fatigue.  I used to sleep about 12 hours a night and take at least one two hour nap during the day.  I could also sleep on command.  This was not particularly conducive to accomplishing much of anything! Now, I feel rested after 8-9 hours of sleep and I no longer require naps. 

I have been seeing Neil about once a month ever since for maintenance.  This type of acupuncture is like home to me.  I may try a million other things but I always come back to this.

What To Expect
For someone who has never been, I’ll try and describe what I remember from many moons ago.  Neil’s office is in a small renovated house in Santa Monica.  It’s comfy and cozy.  The initial treatment lasts about two hours and he asks a bunch of questions, some related to why you came in, some not so much.  He’s trying to decipher what your “causative factor” is – what is your root imbalance? 

This style of acupuncture believes that we are born with a root imbalance and throughout life it can manifest in many different ways.  If we treat the root, all other ailments will resolve themselves.  For me it manifested as fatigue, as well as some other things. He also checks for any major energy blocks and remedies those before the actual treatment begins. 

Moxa image courtesy of Yuryu on Flickr

From there the treatments have been mostly the same.  He checks my pulses, but not my tongue, like most TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) acupuncturists. What he reads in them is different, too.  The way he needles is different than most acupuncturists.  The needles are in and out, they don’t stay in for 20-30 minutes. 

My Most Recent Experience
On this particular day I was struggling with nothing in particular but I felt a little more tired than usual and on the verge of becoming overwhelmed by my responsibilities, which usually leads to catching a cold for me. 

Classical Five Elements Acupuncture uses the “spirit” of the points to help with what I guess are more psychological or emotional issues.  I really like this because it’s more of a specific target, versus a generalized condition like “depression”. 

I am sitting up for the first part of the treatment, staring at a beautiful painting of the Medicine Buddha by Bob Branaman.  He burns moxa on the points first.  Moxa is the name for “mugwort” which is a Chinese herb used internally and externally for a variety of conditions.   When I’ve asked him about it he says J.R. Worsley, his teacher, described it as “warming the house before the guests arrive”. 

Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara by Bob Branaman

He checks my pulses again.  He maps out some more points, does some more moxa, needles in and out, checks my pulses again.  “Not quite” he says.  He chooses one point called something like “Gate of Qi Reserve,” it will allow my body to tap into well, its qi reserve.  I certainly need that right now. He does a couple more points and voila…..

The Result
The only way I can describe this sensation is that I can literally feel my eyes brighten, like I can suddenly see the world more clearly.  The smile starts spreading across my lips, I really can’t even help it- I’m laughing, I’m happy, I am myself again. 

It’s almost like I didn’t notice that I wasn’t completely myself before I came here.  I’ve heard a description in the past that I think rings true here as well.  It’s like standing in sewage. At some point, you get used to the smell and forget that you’re standing in sewage until someone pulls you out and you take a shower and you’re fresh again.  Going to see Neil is like a shower for my spirit.  I am energized.  I am awake. I am me.

For appointments with Neil Gumenick, please call (310) 453-2235.

 For information about Neil’s classes with the Institute of Classical Five Element Acupuncture, please check


About CarmenMargazi

I am an acupuncturist, reiki and NET practitioner in the Los Angeles area. I look forward to supporting your wellness journey.
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4 Responses to Classical 5 Elements: The Acupuncture That Started It All

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