By Léo Azambuja

Sarah Brooks, Lic. AC., M.A, owner of Hawai‘i Five Element Acupuncture. Photo by Léo Azambuja

Traditional Western medicine focuses on eliminating the symptoms of diseases or illnesses. What if rather than just getting rid of pain and discomfort, we sought to eliminate our problems altogether through a holistic approach? That’s what classical acupuncture does.

“I’m really interested in helping people become more educated in taking better care of themselves day to day, and I think acupuncture really fits into that picture of wellness for a person over a lifetime,” said Sarah Brooks, owner of Hawai‘i Five Element Acupuncture.

Acupuncture is basically a form of medicine originated in ancient China, said Brooks, who earned a Master of Acupuncture from the Institute of Taoist Education and Acupuncture in Louisville, Colo. Adding five years of formal training and 10 years of professional practice, she has 15 years of experience treating patients, from babies to seniors well into their 90s.

While in Western medicine, we look at the human body’s different systems — muscular, skeletal, nervous, etc. — acupuncture works on our energy level, which is something ancient cultures believed, they thought different energies made up the body, said Brooks.

During treatment, tiny needles are momentarily stuck on certain points that are scientifically proven to stimulate parts of our brain, nervous system, muscles, and other parts of our bodies. Brooks said acupuncture works really good for pain, allergies, getting pregnant, depression, anxiety and many other conditions, including major mental illnesses.

“I have worked with people who are schizophrenic, people who have Parkinson’s, people who have Alzheimer’s, dementia,” she said. “Once a disease has progressed to a very advanced stage, it works more on the person’s overall well being, more on the quality of life, whereas someone who has just started to develop symptoms, that’s a really good time to do the acupuncture in hopes it will reverse it.”

There are a few different styles of acupuncture. When we hear of acupuncture, we usually think of people resembling a porcupine, with 30 needles stuck on their bodies. But this is far from the kind of acupuncture Brooks practices at Hawai‘i Five Element.

Sarah Brooks, Lic. AC., M.A, owner of Hawai‘i Five Element Acupuncture. Photo by Léo Azambuja

“I am from a tradition of really old style, where you’re just in and out really quickly,” said Brooks, adding it hurts a little bit because it’s a needle going into your skin, but it’s nothing like a shot or a tattoo. “It’s a quick thing, it hurts for a second then it’s gone.”

The first visit last an hour-and-a-half to two hours, because it’s when Brooks does a medical evaluation, and then she does a whole treatment. Subsequent treatments take about an hour. In the beginning, it’s best that a patient returns at least once a week. After a few treatments, the patient can come in a more “maintenance schedule,” she said.

Throughout her years of practice, Brooks said, she has seen a lot of different people from all ages, with many kinds of conditions.

“I’ve seen little babies who had infections and were sick, and you do a much less treatment in them, but they can be treated,” she said. “I see a lot of elderly, people dying with cancer. I help them with the transition and make them more confortable.”

All the needles are individually packed and sterilized and only used for that particular person — they are never used on another patient. And the needles are just subcutaneous, which means they just go as deep as the skin, so Brooks said there is no risk involved with acupuncture.

Brooks takes a few kinds of insurance. The best thing to do is ask to see if you qualify.

Hawai‘i Five Element Acupuncture is at 4463 Pahee St. Suite 209 in Lihu‘e, in the KIUC building. Visit or call (808) 658-1918 for more information.

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