Krennie Tran Nguyen Five Element Acupuncture Theory and Clinical Applications
R. Worsley. The theory is used extensively by Japanese acupuncturists within the five phase treatment protocols and by Classical five element practitioners. the theory may be used to help form a diagnosis when there is conflicting signs and symptoms. elements of the theory are useful for assisting patients with nutritional balancing and/or working through emotional issues.Five element theory is one of the major systems of thought within Chinese medicine. such as those who follow the teachings of the late J. The information below discusses the Five Element theory and clinical applications in detail. From a historical perspective it is an important underpinning of medical theory and serves as one of the major diagnostic and treatment protocols.
. Additionally. In modern clinical practice the five element theory is used in varying degrees depending on the practitioner and style of acupuncture that they practice. For practitioners or Traditional Chinese Medicine.
for example. Relationships and Interactions
Within five element theory there are four main relationships or ways in which the elements interact.Primary Correspondences Within Five Element Theory
The Five Element theory is based on the observation of the natural cycles and interrelationships in both our environment and within ourselves. is weakened from a poor diet and overwork you will see that more nourishment is requested from the Fire element to nourish Earth. If Earth. This cycle describes the ways in which each element. Fire providing the generative force for Earth. consequently. enjoy joints movement hard workers
Five Element Cyles. etc. The foundation of the theory rests in the correspondences of each element to a variety of phenomena. This relationship provides the foundation for understanding five element theory and. Additionally. Examples of this cycle are the Wood element providing the generative force for Fire. promotes the growth and development of the following child element. where imbalances may arise within the cycle.
. The most common correspondences are listed in the chart below:
FIRE Heart & Pericardium Small Intestine & EARTH Spleen METAL Lungs WATER Kidneys WOOD Liver
Yang Organs Sense Organs Tissues Tastes Colors Sounds Odor Emotions Seasons Environment Developmental Stages Direction
Large Intestine Nose Skin Pungent white Crying rotten Grief/Sadness Autumn Dryness Harvest west triangular features strong voice meticulous. The first of these is the generating (sheng. strong willed
Urinary Bladder Ears Bone Salty blue/black Groaning putrid Fear Winter Cold Storage north
Gall Bladder Eyes Tendons Sour green Shouting rancid Anger Spring Wind Birth east
Triple Heater Tongue Mouth Vessels Muscles Bitter Sweet red yellow Laughing Singing scorched fragrant Joy Worry/Pensiveness Summer Late Summer Heat Dampness Growth south pointed features small hands quick energetic Transformation center large features strong legs calm generous
round features tall slender strong digestion strong bones and loyal. if Earth is weakened the Metal element may also be effected. serving as a mother. mother-child) cycle.
grandparent-grandchild) cycle provides for a check and balance system among all of the elements. Within nature you may see Water putting out Fire. Within this case you may see a combination of bloating. for example. excessive worry and overwork which leads to a proliferation of dampness which then effects the Metal element.
The controlling (ke.
. gas and poor energy with the development of Metal (Lung) symptoms such as sinusitis or phlegm-type asthma. Within this cycle Earth. provides a control for Water and is controlled by Wood. Earth soaking up Water and so on. you begin to see more Kidney (Water) related signs as the Water element attempts to control the overactive Fire.
The overacting cycle (cheng) is an imbalance within the controlling cycle where the grandmother element provides too much control over the grandchild and weakens the element. An example of this relationship within the body is in cases of anxiety (Fire) which are related to LV Qi Stagnation (Wood) where.From a clinical perspective you may see people develop digestive issues from irregular eating. over time.
A clinical example of this relationship would be Liver (Wood) overacting on the Spleen (Earth). Clinically you may see this in cases where people have long-term psychological problems (Fire) which eventually effect the Kidneys (Water) as seen in the development of more Yin (Water) deficiency signs. In this case you have an overactive Wood element overcontrolling Earth leading to distruptions in the digestive system.
Five Element Pathology and Clinical Applications
. Using examples from nature you can see Fire burning up Water and Water washing away Earth and so on.
The insulting cycle (wu) is also an imbalance within the controlling cycle where the grandchild insults or returns the controlling force generated by the grandmother.
etc. This section describes the basic ways in which a practitioner of traditional chinese medicine applies the theory in a clinical setting.) described above are discussed in more detail here. Our Japanese section describes the five phase treatments in detail and our classical five element (worsley style) page describes the ways in which a pure five element practitioner would utilize the theory. The Mother and Child points for each meridian are derived from the chart above using the following logic. Using this information for the Yin Earth Meridian (Spleen) the mother point is the Fire point on the Spleen meridian SP 2 and the child point is the Metal point on the Spleen meridian SP 5.As described in the introduction there are a variety of ways in which the theory is used clinically. For the purposes of this discussion an extract from the chart above showing only the Mother and Child points provides a good starting point to understand the application of the theory to acupuncture. Mother & Child Five Element Points
. jing well. represent the relationship of the theory to individual acupuncture points. listed below. Five Shu Points Jing-well Ying-spring Shu-stream Jing-river He-Sea (Wood) (Fire) (Earth) (Metal) (Water) LU LU 11 LU 10 LU 9 LU 8 LU 5 PC PC 9 PC 8 PC 7 PC 5 PC 3 HT HT 9 HT 8 HT 7 HT 4 HT 3 SP SP 1 SP 2 SP 3 SP 5 SP 9 LV LV 1 LV 2 LV 3 LV 4 LV 8 KD KD 1 KD 2 KD 3 KD 7 KD 10 Jing-well Ying-spring Shu-stream Jing-river He-Sea Yang Meridians (Metal) (Water) (Wood) (Fire) (Earth) LI LI 1 LI 2 LI 3 LI 5 LI 11 TH TH 1 TH 2 TH 3 TH 6 TH 10 SI SI 1 SI 2 SI 3 SI 5 SI 8 ST ST 45 ST 44 ST 43 ST 41 ST 36 GB GB 44 GB 43 GB 41 GB 38 GB 34 UB UB 67 UB 66 UB 65 UB 60 UB 40 Yin Meridians The major point categories (i. According to the generating cycle the mother of Earth is Fire and the child of Earth is Metal. The Five Shu (transporting) Points. Our understanding of these points is based largely on the information within the Nan-Ching: The Classic of Difficult Issues.e.
.are most often used to clear heat. TH 3 .is typically used to disperse fever a/or reduce abdominal distention.is typically dispersed to clear heat. although it can be as a local point in a tonifying manner to increase energy flow to the foot. UB 67 . In the case above.is not the most tonifying point on the SP meridian .in the case of SP Qi Deficiency where a patient is experiencing poor appetite and low energy.LV 2 . While the five element theory is a useful tool in many cases.has no tonification effects. SP 2 . SI 3 & SI 8 . The example above brings up an interesting point from the perspective of a TCM practitioner. LI 11 .dispersive point for acute conditions.are both used to clear heat. GB 43 & GB 38 . Some of the points which have varying degrees of correspondence with the theory are:
• • • • •
• • •
HT 9 & PC 9 .Mother Child Lung (Metal) LU 9 LU 5 Large Intestine (Metal) LI 11 LI 2 Stomach (Earth) ST 41 ST 45 Spleen (Earth) SP 2 SP 5 Heart (Fire) HT 9 HT 7 Small Intestine (Fire) SI 3 SI 8 Urinary Bladder (Water) UB 67 UB 65 Kidney (Water) KD 7 KD 1 Pericardium (Fire) PC 9 PC 7 Triple Heater (Fire) TH 3 TH 10 Gall Bladder (Wood) GB 43 GB 38 Liver (Wood) LV 8 LV 2 A clinical example of this theory would be dispersing the child point of the Wood meridian (Liver) . pain and stagnation but provide no tonifying effect.SP 2 . Another example would be tonifying the mother point of the Earth meridian (Spleen) . ST 41 .SP 3 is a better choice.reduce heat.in the case of LV Fire Rising where a patient is experiencing LV signs such as anger and irritability along with HT related signs such as disturbed sleep and agitation. there are times where the theory indicates a point which clinical experience has proven to be less effective than another point. SP 2 is indicated by the theory whereas SP 3 is more commonly used for this condition.