What is Five Element Acupuncture?

by Nora Franglen

You can see from the title of my six books published by Singing Dragon that I practise and write about a branch of acupuncture called five element acupuncture. All acupuncture is based upon an understanding of an ancient Chinese philosophical concept which describes the universe and all who live in it as created by the Dao, the All, the infinite, what we can think of as the universe before the Big Bang.

 

The Dao itself is divided into two forces called yin and yang, positive and negative forces created at the time of the Big Bang, which always counterbalance each other and make time and motion possible. Finally, yin and yang split into what the Chinese call the five elements, each with simple, everyday names of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. In geographical terms we can see the elements as being like the four directions of north, south, east and west, with the fifth its centre.

 

The Chinese understood that the elements were symbols for the complete cycle of life, from its point of creation, the seed of all things, which they symbolized as being the Water element, associated with the season of winter, the Wood element, being the bud which emerges above ground in spring, the Fire element at the height of summer, which in turn leads on to the Metal element in autumn, and finally back to Water as winter closes in again. They related each element to a season in this way, all five creating the cycle of a complete year.

 

They also regarded the elements as creating all living beings, including the human, with different elements forming the different organs of the body. Thus the heart is associated with the Fire element and the liver with the Wood element, for example.  And then, by a further stroke of genius, they recognized that the relationships of the elements to each other within a human being were responsible for creating the unique characteristics we all show, giving us what I call a unique elemental imprint, much as each of us has a unique genetic imprint.

 

Each of us therefore owes allegiance throughout our lifetime to one dominant element out of the five. I call this our guardian element, because when we are in balance and healthy, it will protect us and make sure that the energy circling within us remains healthy.  When we become unbalanced, though, it will be the element which succumbs to the pressures of life, both physical and psychological, and will therefore need to be supported by acupuncture treatment focused on this particular element.

 

This understanding of the human being represents a truth confirmed to me by my many years of practice as a five element acupuncturist. Practitioners are trained to observe the presence of the elements in each person, and gauge the level of their balance or imbalance in relation to one another. The elements leave specific sensory markers upon us. The sound of our voice, the colour on our skin, the smell on our body and the emotion each of us shows all point to the dominant presence of one particular element. We learn to use these diagnostically to help us decide which particular element is under stress, and then direct our attention to redressing any imbalance by concentrating our treatment on this element.

 

The sensory signals will indicate changes as a result of some imbalance, which can be physical or psychological or both. For example, a person suffering some emotional trauma in their life may appear much paler or unexpectedly irritable, showing that their dominant element is reflecting the stress they are under by a change in skin colour or emotion.

 

Similarly physical conditions, such as jaundice place a greenish tinge on the sufferer’s skin. Where Western medicine will diagnose this as jaundice, five element acupuncture will see this as a sign of an imbalance in the Wood element, whose colour is green. This is a good example of where Western medicine and acupuncture have matching diagnostic criteria on which to base their treatment.

 

I have spent the last 35 years of my life confirming the truth of what I write about through the treatment of my patients and through my observation of how human beings interact with each other. My two latest books which include a selection of my blogs over the past few years represent my homage to the discipline I have dedicated so much of my life to, in my belief that it represents a surprisingly simple, very profound approach to healing many of the ills, both physical and psychological which this modern world is burdened with.

 

Nora Franglen has a degree in Modern Languages from Cambridge University, and worked as a translator whilst bringing up a young family. Her own experience of five element acupuncture led her to study at the College of Traditional Acupuncture, Leamington Spa, UK, and she continued her postgraduate studies there under J R Worsley. She was Founder/Principal of the School of Five Element Acupuncture (SOFEA) in London from 1995-2007 and continues her teaching through her practice, through postgraduate work in the UK, Europe and China, and now through her blog, norafranglen.blogspot.com. She lives in London, UK.

 

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Books By Nora Franglen

Blogging a Five Element Life

The follow-up to Nora Franglen’s first book of collected posts on the holistic life of an acupuncturist, this provides further insight into the everyday musings of a master of her craft. From her love of London’s cafes to challenges she has experienced in her clinic, it reveals how acupuncture can enrich and balance all aspects of our being.

Read more about the book here.

 

On Being a Five Element Acupuncturist

Based on her well-read blog, Nora Franglen provides a rich insight into the inner thoughts and feelings of a master acupuncturist. Covering everything from her love of coffee shops to how to treat patients effectively, it is reveals the holistic and rich nature of acupuncture.

Read more about the book here.

 

The Handbook of Five Element Practice

A companion for practitioners of Five Element acupuncture that strengthens the foundation for practice. With detailed outlines of the different components of Five Element diagnosis and treatment, this complete manual will support and invigorate practice. It also includes a Teach Yourself Manual.

Read more about the book here.

 

The Simple Guide to Five Element Acupuncture

This accessible guide explains the history and philosophy of five element acupuncture, and shows how it addresses specific health needs and general well-being. With case studies throughout, the guide explains how an acupuncturist diagnoses and treats patients, and looks at the character of each element.

Read more about the book here.

 

Keepers of the Soul

With profiles of well-known figures, the book explains the spirit of each of the Five Elements of Chinese medicine, and what they look like in different people. The philosophy behind Five Element acupuncture is explained, including what it means to live in harmony and how the Five Elements help shape our body and soul.

Read more about the book here.

 

Patterns of Practice

Considering acupuncture in its wider context, this book contains Nora Franglen’s reflections on her practice and explores how the search for acupuncture points can lead the practitioner deep into challenging areas of existence.

Read more about the book here.

 

 

The Art and Practice of Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine: Extract

To celebrate the release of The Art and Practice of Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine by Nigel Ching, we have released an extract from the book.

Click here to read the extract.

This textbook is a complete diagnostic manual for students of Chinese medicine. It covers how to collect and collate the relevant information needed to make a diagnosis and clearly describes the various diagnostic models in Chinese medicine.

Click here to read more about the book or to purchase a copy.

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Other Titles by Nigel Ching

The Fundamentals of Acupuncture 

A fantastically readable guide to Chinese Medicine, this illustrated textbook covers the basic foundations and principles of acupuncture and TCM. Nigel Ching covers everything from the theories of yin and yang to point functions and needling techniques.

Click here to read more about The Fundamentals of Acupuncture.

Clare Stephenson on Eastern and Western Medicine, Acupuncture and Complementary Therapies in Practice

Clare Stephenson, author of The Acupuncturist’s Guide to Conventional Medicine, discusses how knowledge of Eastern medicine can improve conventional medicine practitioners response to patients, if complementary therapies should be incorporated into routine medical practice and her background in Eastern and Western medicine. 

Clare, you trained as a doctor in conventional medicine. What led you to discover Eastern medicine, and Acupuncture in particular?

I initially had close contact with Eastern medicine over 20 years ago through attending an evening class in Tai Chi. Tai Chi is based on Qi Gong, the ancient system of movements for health. Qi Gong is considered one of the five pillars of Chinese medicine – both share the understanding that the physical body is a manifestation of an energetic foundation which can be manipulated by subtle and not-so-subtle means in order to promote health. The exposure to the practice of Tai Chi sparked my interest in learning more about Chinese medicine.

The more I understood about Chinese medical health philosophy and its integrity, the more I wanted to learn. I travelled to China where I saw acupuncture being practised as a front line medical treatment alongside western medicine. This then inspired me to undertake a three year formal training course in the practice of acupuncture at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine in Reading.  All this was whilst I was also working in UK general practice and public health medicine, so I was continually being challenged to understand how these two approaches to describing health and disease might overlap!

Continue reading

Behind the Scenes of: ‘The Yellow Monkey Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine’ with Spencer Hill

In this blog post, Spencer Hill recalls the process of drawing the cartoons for The Yellow Monkey Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine and how he met and came to work with Damo Mitchell.

Continue reading

LESSONS FROM OUR MOTHERS

By Stephen Rath with Marcia Rath, certified Qigong instructors and writers of Qigong for Wellbeing in Dementia and Aging

Rath cover

The author Frank Herbert observed in Dune that when we ponder choices in the future we see doors, perhaps many; but when we peer into the past we see a long corridor. And so it seems with the journey that my wife, Marcia, and I took as we traveled through the corridor that led to the publication of Qigong for Wellbeing in Dementia and Aging. Continue reading

Gateways to Greater Health

Available 21st November 2015

Available 21st November 2015

In The Way of the Five Elements, John Kirkwood references a category of acupoints known as entry and exit points. Here, he elaborates on these points, the timely use of which can make big differences to treatment outcomes.

Qi flows through the 12 organ meridians in a continuous circuit. It flows out of the exit point of one meridian and into the entry point of the next meridian in the Wei Qi cycle. For most of the meridians the entry point is the first point of the meridian. The exit point is either the last point or one close to the end of the meridian.

 

Entry-Exit Blocks

If work with a client is not holding, there may be a block to treatment and it is worth looking for a possible entry-exit block since these are the most frequently encountered blocks and the most easily treated. Acupressure is well suited to working with these blocks.

An entry-exit block arises when Qi is not flowing freely from one meridian to the next. The blockage of Qi flow between exit and entry point may be partial or complete.

Sometimes a block becomes evident early in treatment, but more commonly, the block occurs during the course of treatment and needs to be addressed in order for the treatment to proceed successfully.

Diagnosing Blocks

The most reliable way to detect blocks is on the pulse where there is a relatively full pulse on one meridian and a relatively deficient pulse on the following meridian. If the pulse is not used, signs and symptoms such as skin eruptions, swelling, pain, constriction, feelings of congestion, fullness or emptiness at the entry-exit points are all suggestive of a block.

In addition, if treatment suddenly becomes less effective or stops working altogether, an entry-exit block may be suspected. An unexpectedly strong reaction during the course of treatment can also indicate a block. This kind of block is caused when an existing block manifests itself as a result of the extra Qi that is made available.

Treating Blocks

When a block is suspected, palpation of the points can confirm the diagnosis. Holding the points, the practitioner may sense a numbness, deadness, emptiness and/or lack of movement either at the entry point, the exit point, or both.

Blocks may be bi-lateral or unilateral. To focus your intention, it is best to work on one side at a time. Begin by holding both the entry and the exit point. Stay with both if both are blocked. If only one is blocked, then hold the one blocked point.

Some points can take a long time to open, and even then reluctantly. When both practitioner and client visualise pulling Qi through, this can aid the process.

More than one treatment may by necessary to resolve a block. Even when the block appears to be resolved, it may reappear later in treatment.

Two Kinds of Blocks

Since there are 12 organ meridians, there are 12 possible blocks. Six of these flow from a meridian into its partner meridian (e.g. Gall Bladder to Liver). The other six flow from a meridian of one Element to a meridian of another Element (e.g. Triple Heater to Gall Bladder).

It is this second kind of block that I want to focus on here since it occurs more frequently, is the greater block to treatment and tends to produce the more serious symptoms.

Large Intestine to Stomach

LI 20 is slightly lateral and superior to the outside base of the nose. Qi flows to ST 1 which lies below the pupil at the orbital ridge. Signs and symptoms can include spots or rashes at LI 20, nasal congestion, sinusitis, difficulty smelling, spots or rashes below the eye, eye spasms, pain or congestion at the eye.

Spleen to Heart

This is one of the more common entry-exit blocks. SP 21 lies on the side of the body, below the armpit in the 7th intercostal space and roughly at the level of the xiphoid process. Qi flows from there to HT 1 which is in the depression at the centre of the armpit. Symptoms can include fullness of the chest, palpitations, pain in the ribcage, depression, fatigue, pain in the armpit, appetite disorders, and spots or rashes at the site of the points.

Small Intestine to Bladder

SI 19 is at the tragus of the ear, in a depression that appears with the mouth open. Qi flows from there to BL 1 which is located at the inner corner of the eye, just above the tear duct. Symptoms can include jaw tension, eye problems, tear duct issues, eye pain and headaches.

Kidney to Heart Protector

K 22 lies in the 5th intercostal space, 2 cun lateral to the midline, flowing to HP 1 which is 1 cun lateral and slightly superior to the nipple in the 4th intercostal space. On women, use HP 2 which is between the heads of the biceps 2 cun below the fold of the armpit. Symptoms can include tension or pain at the side of the sternum or in the breast; rashes, spots or lumps at site of points or in the intervening space; depression, fear and lack of joy for life.

Triple Heater to Gall Bladder

TH 22 is 0.5 cun anterior to the upper border of the root of the ear, on the posterior border of the hairline of the temple, flowing to GB 1 in a depression 0.5 cun lateral to outer canthus of the eye. Symptoms of this block may be frontal and temporal headaches, vision problems, tics and an inability to see the way forward or take action.

Liver to Lung

LV 14 is on the nipple line, in the 6th intercostal space, usually slightly above the level of the xiphoid process. Qi moves from there to LU 1 which is 6 cun lateral to the midline in the 1st intercostal space. Symptoms can be breathing difficulty or constriction, fullness of the ribcage, emotions of grief and anger (often suppressed) and a feeling of being tired and wired.

By becoming aware of the potential for these blocks and clearing them as they arise, practitioners can greatly support their clients’ treatment processes and promote swifter healing.

Learn more about John Kirkwood’s new book The Way of the Five Elements HERE.

Breathing is the rhythm of life: breathing into Autumn

The following article is adapted from the book Qigong Through the Seasons by Ronald H. Davis.

The practice of Qigong Through the Seasons is designed to harmonize the health of your internal organs with the seasonal energetic changes of nature.
Autumn is the time to give special attention to the Lungs. Breathing is the most important thing you do from moment to moment and yet most of us are unaware of how we breathe and have lost our innate connection to the breath cycle. We, therefore, often fail to completely benefit from the power of correct breathing.

The Source of Qi
Breathing stands out as our quintessential rhythmic interaction with the world; lungs function as a permeable interface between each of us and everything else. The lungs are yin organs that receive air from the outside world, extract its healthy components and send them downward to the lower dan tian, the primary energy center of the abdomen, to be combined with the nutrients of food. That fusion of air’s vitality and food’s energy produces our greatest quantity of qi. In ancient times, the word ‘qi’ primarily had the meaning of ‘vital breath’ emphasizing that our indispensable energy comes from breathing.

Astonishingly, the lungs eliminate seventy percent of the body’s waste products. This makes exhalation a hugely significant detoxifying activity. We must completely exhale so that the respiratory system can flush out toxins and debris; only then can we receive a full complement of fresh air on the next inhalation. Stress, fear, anger, and doubt are the main emotional states that interfere with a healthy exhalation. Many people subconsciously don’t let go of the breath—they feel like they must hold on to that last bit of air, otherwise they may expire. The ability to completely let go of the breath often relates to issues of trust and relaxation.

The correct practice of qigong creates mental tranquility and thus will profoundly enhance healthy breathing by relaxing the lungs and allowing them to freely function. The following exercise, White Healing Mist, is the most important qigong exercise to do during the autumn season. It uses mental intention, body movement, and regulated breathing to purify and strengthen the lungs.

White Healing Mist Exercise
This graceful neigong (internal qigong) exercise fills the lungs with fresh qi while cleansing them of turbid qi. The intent of the mind uses detailed imagery of pure and impure qi. The movement of the hands leads the qi into and out of each lung. The ‘white healing mist’ can be any personal image that conveys a sense of purity, freshness, tranquility and healing. The ‘toxins’ can be not only respiratory debris but also cloudy, unhealthy thoughts. As the interface between internal and external worlds, the lungs command our self-defense system. When doing this practice, you may want to identify those healthy and unhealthy aspects of your life. Then you can nurture the good with the white mist, and purge the bad along with the toxins. Do this exercise slowly with focused concentration on one lung at a time. The unilateral emphasis is unusual since most qigong exercises are done for both lungs simultaneously, but that special concentration on one lung at a time increases the concentration of qi, which makes this a very powerful healing exercise. You can do this for the common chest cold and for all serious diseases of the lungs.
Begin with feet close together, hands crossed and touching the chest over the lungs. The right hand is over the left lung and the left hand is over the right lung.

Take a slow, relaxed breath and think of your lungs there under your hands. Make a mental connection between your hands and your lungs.

for blog 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step to the side with the left foot.

Inhale, shift weight to the left leg so that the left lung is lined up over the left knee. At the same time, open the arms and slowly, swing the hands forward and then laterally out until the arms are extended to the side with fingers up and the palms facing away from the body. Left knee is bent, right knee is straight.

for blog 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think of inhaling a white healing mist into the left lung only.

Exhale, step back to center with the left foot, straighten knees, the hands return to the chest, cross them so that the right hand is touching over the left lung. The left hand touches over the right lung.

Think of exhaling grey smoky toxins from the left lung only. Although both hands are touching your chest, your focused intention goes to the left lung only.

Repeat for the right lung by stepping to the right, etc. Do 8 repetitions, alternating left and right.

The complete set of Autumn Qigong exercises, along with suggested foods and herbs for seasonal health, are fully described and illustrated in chapter 8 of Qigong Through The Seasons.

Ronald H. Davis is an acupuncturist and chiropractor. He has been practicing Qigong since 1986 and is the founder of The Health Movement, a group of classes and educational materials designed to improve a person’s wellbeing through the use of traditional and complementary healthcare methods. Ronald offers classes in Qigong, Taiji and spinal healthcare and lives in Bozeman, Montana, USA.

 

Request a copy of the new US Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Catalog

Our brand new US Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Catalog is about to mail. If you’d like to receive a free copy, please sign-up for our mailing list and we’ll send a copy ASAP.

Take advantage of this opportunity to see Singing Dragon’s ever expanding list of authoritative books and resources. Acupuncture 2015 catalog 2Guohui Liu, M.Med., L.Ac.’s major new translation of the classic Shang Han Lun, Discussion of Cold Damage (Shang Han Lun): Commentaries and Clinical Applications, makes the foundational text fully accessible to English speaking clinicians for the first time. Rainy Hutchinson, an acupuncturist who runs her own clinic in Sheffield, UK, invites students to color and doodle their way through the sequence of images on each channel in her new book, The Acupuncture Points Functions Colouring Book. Longtime Singing Dragon author, Dr. David Twicken DOM, LAc provides a complete exploration of the theories and clinical applications of the Luo Collaterals, and the Shen and the five Shen in his newest book, The Luo Collaterals: A Handbook for Clinical Practice and Treating Emotions and the Shen and The Six Healing Sounds.

Click this link to sign-up to our mailing list and receive a catalog which features the above books and more.

For more information on Singing Dragon or to see our complete list of books and resources, please visit: www.singingdragon.com.

 

Summer energy urges us to get moving

Summer begins in early May according to the lunisolar calendar. Both the lunar phases and the solar year are combined in this traditional calendar used in many Asian cultures. Seasons are determined by the amount of sunlight striking a particular region of the earth. The months of May, June and July have the greatest amount of solar radiation in the northern hemisphere with the summer solstice being the midpoint of the season. Therefore, to get maximum benefit, we should begin our summer qigong practice in early May 2015.

Excerpt from Qigong Through The Seasons by Ronald H. Davis:

“Summer energy urges us to get moving. We want to be outside more often, we wear fewer clothes, and are in closer contact with nature. We like to spend time in joyful physical recreation and gatherings with friends. Summer stimulates creativity, which we may express with building projects, designing gardens, making music, art objects, and party decorations—anything that gives us warm pleasurable connections to people and outdoors adventures. During this season of splendor and shining fire, the energy of nature grows outward with color, warmth, and radiance. Now our Spirit comes alive with expansive awareness; it wants to make intimate contact with all the elements of heaven and Earth.

During the Fire Phase we feel that our Heart Qi, which was fueled by the Rising Yang Qi of spring, has come into full bloom with expressions of joy, compassion and a mysterious yearning for divine contact. The exuberance of fire, when controlled and cultivated, can be refined and directed toward the ultimate purpose of being human: spiritual awakening. However—if not properly harnessed—the great blazing of summer’s Supreme Yang Qi can scorch our Heart and mind. Summer Qigong practice will show you how to feed the Heart Network without getting burned.”

Qigong Through The Seasons presents a complete program of qigong exercises, specific meditations, foods, and tonic herbs that will keep you naturally healthy during the exciting summer season. Based on the author’s thirty years of clinical practice, personal training, and public teaching, this fully illustrated book will show you how to harmonize with the ever-changing energy of the natural world.