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On pins & needles Acupuncturist Jenny Karns gently inserts a needle during a Five Element acupuncture session in her Buckhead office. s

5 Element acupuncture helps bring balance


Photos: Sara Hanna Photography


Jennifer Bradley Franklin


’m a huge needle phobe. You’d never know it, though, if you observed my recent appointment in Jenny Karns’ Buckhead acupuncture office, where I calmly lay facedown on a table with no fewer than seven hair-thin needles sticking out of my skin.

Karns, who has a gentle, counselor-like demeanor that put me at ease, integrates Five Element (“5E”) acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine to help address acute pain or other symptoms and bring clients closer to their optimal health. The five elements are earth, metal, water, wood and fire, and each has a unique set of strengths and potential challenges. “In 5 Elements, it’s thought that at some point in birth or childhood, we develop a constitutional weakness in one of the five elements, and that weakness is the true cause of all our illnesses,” says Karns, who has a master’s in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine from the Academy of 5 Element Acupuncture in Gainesville, Fla., and studied at Zhejiang University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Hangzhou, China. “By directly treating that particular element, we’re treating the root of the problem and thus, all presenting symptoms will fade away.” Karns specializes in women’s health and fertility, though she regularly works with men and women in all stages of life.


May/June 2013 | Simply Buckhead

My first appointment started with an hour-long consultation, during which Karns asked me questions that ranged from my daily eating habits (apparently I’ve been eating too high a proportion of “cold” foods like an ice-cold smoothie first thing in the morning, which can impede digestion) to childhood memories (I experienced my first migraine at the tender age of 8). During this detailed conversation, she determined that I’m a fire element, which helped her plan my course of treatment. “Fire symbolizes joy, laughter and the connection we feel with others. The joy of fire is stoked by community,” Karns explained. “The fire element craves the warmth of others, and without it, can feel withdrawn or isolated,” she says, describing me almost perfectly. I was rather shocked to feel, or more accurately, not feel, most of the needles as they went into my skin. I felt a slight pressure, but not the actual “stick” I expected. Draining toxins from the body through carefully placed needles and employing a technique called moxibustion are key components

In the practice of moxibustion, the herb Artemesia vulgaris is lit on fire and then allowed to smoke on the body in order to warm certain organs.

needle points Several acupuncture centers in the Buckhead area

of the 5E practice. Moxibustion involves placing a fragrant herb called Artemesia vulgaris on a key point on the body and setting a spark to it, letting it smoke just to the point of warmth before removing it. The treatment is designed to warm and tone targeted organs, allowing them to operate more optimally. For me, we focused on warming and toning my liver and kidneys, which fit right in with my elemental challenges. After that first appointment, I felt an almost unnatural sense of calm, which lasted for days. During my second appointment, I happened to be developing an intense earache, pressure built up from a sinus infection. Karns artfully placed a tiny needle in the flesh right in front of each ear, and I had almost instant relief. It was as if I could feel the fluid draining away. It was a perfect example of the health benefits an integrated practice of acupuncture can impart. “When we heal the root cause of our illness, we are able to manifest our full potential,” Karns says, summing up her philosophy. “And expressing our fullest potential is true health.” n

Acupuncture Center of Atlanta One of the few centers in Atlanta to offer Japanese acupuncture, a style often considered the gentler form of needling. 17A Lenox Pointe N.E. Atlanta 30324 404.321.9364

Atlanta Eastern Acupuncture One of the specialties of this Korean acupuncture center is Auricular Acupuncture, or ear acupuncture, which is based on the idea that the ear is a microcosm of the body (similar to reflexology). 2964 Peachtree Road N.W., Suite 105 Atlanta 30305 770.880.8717

Buckhead Acupuncture & Herbal Center This is Karns’ office, which specializes in an integrated blend of 5 Element and Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture. 2964 Peachtree Road N.W., Suite 350 Atlanta 30305 404.538.4420

Simply Buckhead May/June 2013  

Simply Buckhead is the definitive resource for Atlanta's most dynamic intown neighborhood. With a commitment to journalistic excellence, the...

Simply Buckhead May/June 2013  

Simply Buckhead is the definitive resource for Atlanta's most dynamic intown neighborhood. With a commitment to journalistic excellence, the...