By AFEA member Beverley Reeves
There are 5 laws that we observe in five-element acupuncture and the law of cure teaches us how a patient should respond once they are in treatment and their deficient or weakest element, known as their causative factor, comes back into balance.
Our first interaction with a patient includes a thorough medical history of any symptoms they may have, whether those are on a physical, mental or spiritual level (which simply put, is a reflection of how they feel within themselves). We know that by improving the flow of energy or Qi within the patient, and specifically by nurturing the patient’s causative factor, the process of cure will be activated.
Once the patient’s causative factor has been identified and treatment has begun, we expect to see the patient’s Qi returning to a state of equilibrium. When this happens and all the organs of the body have a relatively equal share of the patient’s available Qi, nature can begin to effect a cure. The law of cure teaches us that this happens in a very particular manner:
- The patient will first begin to heal from the inside to the outside of their body – internally to externally. For example, if a patient presents with acid reflux and eczema, we expect to see their acid reflux resolve ahead of their eczema.
- Next, the patient will start the same process from their head downwards. For instance, if a patient has migraines as well as gout, we expect the headaches to improve ahead of the gout.
- Finally, more recent complaints will resolve before those of a more longstanding nature. In this example, a patient’s recent stress would be relieved ahead of the asthma they have suffered since childhood.
It is an unfortunate fact that, sometimes symptoms are exacerbated before they resolve completely. By understanding this important law, a practitioner can evaluate whether the law of cure is at work in the patient on subsequent appointments. This allows them to adjust treatment if necessary, in order to return the patient to a state of equilibrium and good health.
We see law of cure at work in many areas of our lives, it is not confined simply to acupuncture and homeopathy.
Many years ago, and approximately 3 months after an extremely traumatic episode in my life, I developed an incredibly itchy, hot rash on my arm. I visited the doctor on numerous occasions to be told that I had developed eczema and given increasingly strong creams and potions to apply to the rash. Nothing worked. Eventually I was prescribed a steroid cream which made the rash disappear from my arm only to pop out on my back, then on my scalp, then on my legs. I questioned the doctors about whether it could possibly be related to the difficult time I was going through. All of them said that would not be possible. Eventually, three years on and many, many bloodied sheets and ruined items of clothing later, I was referred to a dermatologist who concurred with the doctors and conducted allergy tests which all came back negative. I was at my wits end and by this time, scarred by the constant and relentless cycle of itching and scratching.
At around the same time, I came across an article on transcendental meditation and decided to enrol on a course. The instructor felt it was extremely likely that my rash had been caused by the trauma I had been going through and warned me that, once I was meditating regularly twice a day, the rash could get worse before it got better. He was absolutely right. For the first three weeks of my new meditation regime, my rash was at its worst, waking me in the night and causing me huge distress.
Then, one day, I woke up and realised that I had slept right through the night and there were no bloody spots on my sheets. My arm was less red and bumpy and my skin felt cool to the touch. The itching had finally stopped and, with it, the rash began to disappear.
I’m ashamed to say that my meditation has lapsed somewhat in recent times but I am kept in balance by my wonderful acupuncture practitioner. However, I do find that I am giving treatment more often than I am receiving it in these crazy times! Nowadays, I know when I am under too much stress or worrying excessively because my rash returns. It’s a red flag alerting me to the fact that I need to visit my acupuncturist who will restore my Qi to relative balance, reduce my stress and resolve the issue.