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Five Element Acupuncture: The underlying principles

Acupuncture is the use of needles to bring about healing by modifying the circulation of qi around the body. Qi (pronounced Chee) is a subtle form of energy that nourishes every part of the human being – mind, body, soul and spirit.

Qi moves in an invisible (but tangible) circuit around the body delivering sustenance through a network referred to as the Meridians. This network could be compared to the railway system of a large city that transports people to work and back every day. Some days it flows smoothly, but on other days there may be breakdowns, problems with the track or accidents that cause the system to grind to a halt.

Similarly, when the qi is moving correctly around the body, we are in a state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual balance. When there are blockages, or other disturbances in the flow, we experience dis-ease in the form of symptoms that can occur on any of these four levels of our being.

What are the Five Elements?

The five elements are five qualities of the qi. The names given to the elements reflect these qualities as follows:

• Fire energy is warming and rising

• Earth energy is grounding and stabilising

• Metal energy relates to quality and refinement

• Water energy is fluid and powerful

• Wood energy is forceful and youthful

The Causative Factor of Disease

In Five Element Acupuncture it is believed that one of the elements is always congenitally weaker than all of the others. This is the Causative Factor (CF) or, to put it another way, the weakest link in the system.

The Five Element Acupuncturist will endeavour to identify which is the CF and then strengthen that element. By strengthening the CF we then bring the whole system back into a good state of operation, a bit like when a broken railway track is replaced allowing the whole system to flow again.

Diagnosing the Causitive Factor

One of the greatest skills in Five Element Acupuncture is diagnosing which is the weakest part of the system. This is done by observing the client closely to see which of the elements is giving off the most distress signals.

For example, the Fire Element may be disturbed leading to feelings of vulnerability or betrayal. The Earth element may become stuck in a rut, with the client unable to move forward. The metal element may become tarnished making the patient ‘feel like rubbish’. The water element may become frozen with fear and the wood element may become baulked with frustration, lack of vision and depression.

This is where the real skill of 5 Element Acupuncture comes in. All of the senses need to be recruited in order to recognise which element is crying out the loudest for help. Since each of us is made of a unique blend of the five elements, this can be a very challenging.

With experience the practitioner gains the ability to ‘tune in’ more effectively allowing the CF to be sensed through the medium of sound (of the voice), colour (of the skin) odour and emotional expression.

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