Five element acupuncture: how to feel better in yourself

Our journeys through life are rarely smooth – we lose our way or lose touch with who we are. We may become unsettled, dissatisfied or unhappy and sometimes we also develop bodily pain or other symptoms. In this situation, I recommend acupuncture that is based on the aspect of Chinese medicine that is called the Five Elements. Five Element acupuncture not only attends to general health problems but also aims to help you find yourself again.

I base all my treatments on Five Element theory although when there are pressing physical symptoms I integrate it with other aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The five elements are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. Each of us has a particular affinity to one of these elements. Acupuncture focused on this element has the potential to strengthen you not only in mind and body, but also to strengthen your sense of self.

The seasons and changes in the natural world are important in Five Element theory, and the element associated with winter is Water. Water is also linked to the Qi meridians and organs of Kidney and Bladder, the emotion of fear, and the qualities of will-power and wisdom. People whose make-up, or constitution, is aligned with the Water element will experience strengths and weaknesses that relate to these associations. By building up these strengths and finding a way to live their life that develops them further, people can ‘come into their own’ and thrive in their own unique individual way.

One of my ‘Water’ patients originally came to me for help with night-time incontinence. Western medicine could not provide any explanation for this, but had provided her with an effective nasal spray which she had to use every night. I used acupuncture, and the herb Moxa, to strengthen her Water element and her kidney and bladder meridians. I also helped her to build up her own Qi and blood by eating regular meals and keeping warm. After several months of treatment she now only uses her spray occasionally. In addition, I treated her Water element at the level of what the Chinese call ‘the spirit’. This has a meaning similar to our saying of being ‘in good spirits’. Gradually she started to tell me that she felt stronger in herself, had a clearer vision of her future and was more able to move her life forwards. She initiated relationship counselling with her husband and moved from casual work to a new job with a proper job contract.

It often takes me a number of treatments before I can unravel which is the key element for the person I am treating. The person’s response to treatment is the deciding factor. When they improve across a range of health problems, look and sound stronger, and note that they feel better in themselves then I know that acupuncture is focusing on the right element and is including mind, body and spirit.

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