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What is Five Element Acupuncture

A theory of universal connection

Classical Five Element is a system of acupuncture developed in the UK in the 50’s by Professor J.R. Worsley. It is based on the ancient Five Element theory of universal connection that is deeply woven into the fabric of Chinese culture, and can also be viewed as representation of the dynamic balance of opposites and the processes of change.

Five Element ‘Resonances’

Five Elements theory organises all natural phenomena into five master groups or patterns of nature, and each of the five groups, Wood / Fire / Earth / Metal / Water has categories also known as ‘resonances’, that include such things as, our internal organs, body tissues, our emotions, different aspects of the spirit known as ‘Shen’ in Chinese and the interconnected relationships between them.

Additionally, the Five Elements reflect a deep understanding of natural law, and the universal order underlying all things, and provides the Five Element acupuncturist a diagnostic framework that can be used to identify where imbalances and disharmonies of the body, mind, emotions, and spirit have developed within a particular individual.

The balance of the Five Elements

The Five Elements themselves are fundamental energies in dynamic exchange, and to maintain the correct balance between them there is a cycle of ‘Generation’ and ‘Control’ to ensure the Elements stay in harmony with each other. When this cycle starts to fail, the Elements fall out of balance leading to an internal disharmony within the individual which is viewed in Five Element theory as the first stage of ill health. The greater the internal disharmony the more a person's health suffers.

By having a deep understanding of Five Element theory a skilled acupuncturist can use their knowledge to first identity the cause/s of the individual's disharmony, then create highly targeted treatment plans to help the individual to ‘rebalance and maintain’ their health on a physical, mental and spiritual level.

“Everything that appears in the physical realm is always connected with energy flow at the invisible level.” - Nan Lu


Xu X. et al (2017) Five Element Framework

Online: Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation

Gumenick N et al (2006) The Teachings of Professor J.R. Worsley, Part One

European Journal of Oriental Medicine 2006, Vol. 5, No. 2.

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