Five Element Acupuncture


Five element acupuncture recognises that illness may come from many different directions - from what is inherited, from the physical environment [ that cold wind or damp house], from mental strain [the modern day workplace or an unequal struggle] and from emotional disturbances of what the ancient chinese physicians and sages recognised as our spirit.

We talk of the body sending out distress signals in the form of symptoms which we associate with an imbalance of the persons vital energy or qi. My job is to discover where these imbalances lie and then to treat them. This may include a discussion of daily life, daily diet, daily habits if it can be of help.

I strive to truly see and understand each individual patient and to tailor treatment to their own unique selves. I am still engaged and excited by the different paths I travel with my patients and strive to do my very best.

Many books and websites will offer far more detailed information on the elements, yin and yang, the officials, qi, meridians and on acupuncture in general than I can here, but a flavour of each of the five elements central to our work may be of interest. It is based on the idea that we are all part of nature and nature is part of us. Where the imbalance lies provides the information needed to treat the condition. Symptoms, observations, history all help to make the diagnosis.






Elation and joy stem from Fire.

The fire element contains four officials [a term that encompasses organs, functions and channels or meridians of energy that flow around the body].

The heart is known as the Supreme Controller, the place where the beat, the tone is set for all the others to work to.

The pericardium is known as The Heart Protector, it is the envoy of the heart, protecting it from insult and injury.

The Small Intestine is known as The Separator of Pure from Impure, it decides what to keep, what is useful and what is not.

The Three Heater is a non physical official, also known as the Distributor of Qi throughout the Body,or the San Jiao. It helps regulate temperature, heat, ensures the smooth flow of qi.

Fire is about summer, the season where things mature, about heat [both good and bad], about blood, blood vessels, the tongue. It is about the taste of bitter, about ceremony, ritual and propriety. The energy moves up, like champagne bubbles at a party. When the fire energy goes flat sadness and depression can occur.



Loyalty, trust, faithfulness and sincerity stem from the earth element. Worry, anxiety and over thinking also if the energy is in disharmony. Damp is the climate associated with Earth.

Earth represents the 'fifth' season in the chinese system, that of late summer. It is the pause after the summer is spent and the autumn has yet to creep in. Some years it stretches into a beautiful indian summer, in others it can last just a week. It is the time for harvest and ripening of those pumpkins. The movement is one of stability or centredness. It's officials are the stomach and spleen.

The 'spirit' of the Spleen is known as Yi, it influences thought, meditation, memory, intention - we use our yi to lead our qi.
Earth also influences muscles and the flesh and has the power to transform, taking food and transforming it into energy and vitality. A weakness in the earth energy can lead not only to digestive problems, but also to lack of energy or vitality, or muscular issues.

The Stomach is known as The Rotter and Ripener of food and drink.
The Spleen is known as the Official in charge of Transformation and Transportation.
Between them they are responsible for the storehouses and granaries. Our energetic resources.



Metal inhabits the season of autumn, the time of year for letting go, for things to decrease and sink, to contract, to travel inwards.

Dryness is the climate associated with Metal. The officials are Lungs and Large Intestine.

The virtue of Metal is one of justice and correctness, the emotion one of grief. The spirit associated is Po, providing the spark of the unconscious, our instinct.

The lungs are known as The Receiver of Qi from the Heavens. The regulation of life stems from it, and encompasses life from the moment of our first breath.

The Large Intestine is known as The Official responsible for the "Drainage of the Dregs", the office that oversees conveyance and exit of that which we do not need, the act of letting go.



The Water element is associated with Winter, with cold and with the season of total Yin. The movement of the season is downward, that all in nature sinks down into the earth in order to renew and restore itself ready for Spring.

The spirit of Water is Zhi, providing will and the power to do it, the gate of life. The wisdom of knowing how to proceed. The power is to emphasise and consolidate the reserves of energy. Overwork /overdoing it can deplete the Kidney energy and can be difficult to rebuild if depleted too far.

The emotion is one of Fear. Again too much [frozen] or too little [those free climbers] can be tricky, but enough enables us to have caution. Will power, trust and confidence are all linked to Water.

The Bladder is known as the Controller of the Reservoir and the Kidneys are known as the Controller of Fluids. The kidneys have the responsibility for the creation of power, skill and ability.
Bones and marrow are the areas of the body influenced by the Water officials.



The season is Spring, the direction is upwards, outwards. That green shoot reaching for the heavens. The officials are Gallbladder and Liver.

Wood energy influences the eyes and the ligaments and sinews. The climate associated with Wood and with Spring is Wind. It can stir and move things or it can invade and destroy.

The virtue of Wood is one of benevolence or kindness, a love of humanity.

The emotion associated is one of anger, too much or too little can be tricky, but anger can be an emotion that inspires action and change. Denial, irritability, depression or acceptance and kindness are linked to Wood.

The spirit of wood is called the Hun. It provides imagination, creativity and inspiration, it provides the how to do it.

Gallbladder is The Official in Charge of Judgement and Decisions, of deciding what is just and all those decisions needed to implement the plan.

The Liver is The Official in Charge of Strategic Planning - the big plan.


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