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.

 

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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!

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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.

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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.

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.

 

A revolution in understanding pain – interview with the author of ‘Pain is Really Strange’

Haines-PainIsReallyStrange

 

 

 

In this interview Steve Haines, author of Pain is Really Strange, discusses the topic of pain, he explains the reasons behind his choice to write a book about it using the graphic medium and tells us what people can do to manage pain.

Read the edited interview here:

Why do a book on pain?

There’s an awful lot of pain around. There was a huge survey done in Europe: 1 in 5 people experience chronic pain. They have persistent or severe pain for more than six months. For many of them, the median time was a number of years.

People manage large amounts of pain. Pain is a universal human experience; everybody knows what pain is.

The really exciting news is that there is a revolution in how we understand pain. The goal of the book is to try and explain that. How pain works is actually a little bit counterintuitive, a little bit strange. Some of the things that people think cause pain actually turn out to be not quite as central as folklore would have it.

Why do a graphic book on pain?

Education is a central tool in changing pain. The goal of using images it to make it light and really accessible. A good image can communicate an argument and idea very quickly. The book emerged from lots of lectures and talks I’ve given over the years. I have been endlessly trying to find creative ways of explaining how pain works to my clients and students.

I was incredibly lucky to meet Sophie Standing. I have really enjoyed how she’s visualized the work. She surprised me sometimes about how she took an idea that I’d been familiar with for a number of years and just showed it in a very different way.

I think that graphic novels can be very powerful tools. Pain Is Really Strange is short and sweet, 36 pages, but there’s an awful lot of information packed into the book. The images try and really crystallize ideas into something simple.

 Who is the book aimed at?

The book is for everybody. Everybody experiences pain, and I think everybody can learn from the new science. The current research can really help us change our idea and experience of what pain is, even really difficult chronic pain.

I would offer that everybody should be able to stand, walk, sit, and sleep, without issues. You might not be able to run a marathon anymore, and you might not have the best tennis serve that you had when you were in your 20s, but ordinary movements of sitting, standing, walking, lifting your shopping; it’s actually often possible to get people to a place where they can do those everyday functions with ease reasonably quickly. That makes a huge change in happiness and vitality

What is the central message of the book?

There is something that you can do to change your pain experience. There’s always a change in behaviour, a change in how you think, feel, move that can be used to creatively stimulate your brain to do something different.

The really central message is: think of pain as a bad habit or an alarm system that has gone wrong. Short-term it was very useful, but long-term chronic pain serves very little purpose. We can unlearn the pain habit. We can train our nervous system to respond differently to the information that’s coming in.

What is the hardest thing to explain about pain?

By saying: “Pain involves the brain,” people often feel that you’re saying that it’s their fault. That’s really not what I am saying. I like to talk about the mind, the brain, and the body. The mind is our consciousness, our awareness, our sense of self. The brain is in between the mind and the body. Pain is an output from the nervous system, not an input.

The brain can make mistakes. It gets into habits or reflexes. Evolution has taught us to respond to the threat of danger very, very quickly, and sometimes in those quick responses, we go down fixed, hard-wired, old patterns that are hard to break out of. But, and this is the important bit, reflexes and habits are responsive to new learning; we can learn to respond differently.

There’s no one answer to pain. For me that’s very exciting, but it can feel overwhelming and confusing. It implies that creativity, learning to do things differently, is possible. A complex nervous system will benefit from a multitude of responses. Culture, society, family, stress, how we eat, emotion and metabolic activity in our body are all deeply relevant to the pain experience.

What can people do to manage pain?

Mostly, it’s about being creative. Do something different. Whatever you’ve been doing, if you’re still in pain, it’s not working. Try a new approach. We can move differently, understand differently, feel differently, describe ourselves differently. The book explores some simple hints about how we might do those things, but the essence is change and creativity in response to the danger signal, and not going down fixed, hard-wired responses.

Understand that reflexes that were useful when you really needed to protect the tissues as they repaired are no longer useful after the tissues have repaired. Tissue repair takes no more than a few months. In chronic pain the nervous system needs recalibrating.

For me, the book is a very hopeful book; there is something you can do to change your pain experience. Pain isn’t about tissues. It’s about an alarm system in the nervous system that’s exaggerated and is no longer accurate about the state of the tissues.

Steve Haines, June 2015

Or listen to the full interview here. Linda from Singing Dragon asked Steve Haines some questions…

Steve Haines has been working in healthcare for over 25 years and as a bodyworker since 1998. He is the co-author of ‘Cranial Intelligence’ and author of the short graphic books ‘Pain Is Really Strange’ and ‘Trauma Is Really Strange’. Understanding the science of pain and trauma has transformed his approach to healing. He has studied Yoga, Shiatsu, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE). He is a UK registered Chiropractor and teaches TRE and Cranial work all over the world. His treatments now use education, embodied awareness and light touch to help people move more freely and be more present. Steve lives and works between London and Geneva. 

Treatments: www.stevehaines.net Teaching TRE: www.trecollege.com Teaching Cranial: www.bodyintelligence.com Graphic Books: www.painisreallystrange.com

 

 

 

Shōnishin – The Art of Japanese Acupuncture Without Needles

What is ShōniOppenheimer-Wer_Shonishin_978-1-84819-160-0_colourjpg-webshin?

Shōnishin (from Japanese shōni = little child, shin = needling) is a non-invasive method of acupuncture which was developed in Japan for pediatric treatment around 100 years ago. Instead of using needles there are different tools and instruments. They are used for rubbing and tapping on certain reflex zones and meridian areas, as well as on acupuncture points for gentle stimulation along the torso and the extremities.

The therapeutic effect of Shōnishin is to regulate and support the specific development of children, especially the central and autonomous nervous systems. Therefore the treatment is very effective, especially for children with different disharmonies or illnesses from birth to school age. As Shōnishin has no side effects and is absolutely painless, this kind of treatment is made-to-measure for the needs, complaints, and illnesses of babies and children.

Other client groups who can benefit from Shōnishin

Shōnishin is being used as an alternative to acupuncture in women’s shelters, mother-child facilities and nurseries. This aids women and children, who are in difficult social or monetary situations, abandoned and without any obvious way out. This includes traumatized women and children (e.g. survivors of rape), who are only able to permit touching via the “interposed” Shōnishin instrument where no skin-to-skin contact happens.

Another field of application for Shōnishin will be in the treatment of older adults. Particular parameters like skin conditions and mental conditions seem to show retrogression into childhood. First experiences with Shōnishin in homes for the aged show promising treatment approaches. Even here it becomes obvious, that treatment with a Shōnishin instrument is advantageous as older adults often suffer from a shortage of caring touch. With Shōnishin the contact doesn’t take place directly, but indirectly with an instrument. Thus, older adults have no fear of contact and are willing to allow the treatment. Yet another advantage of treating elderly people with Shōnishin is that as many of them have to take blood-thinning medicines, with the non-invasive and gentle treatment technique with Shōnishin, there is no contraindication.

Training in Shōnishin

Training in Shōnishin varies a lot in the way it is done outside Japan. In Germany there are trainers who offer one-day courses. This, of course, entails the risk that therapists with minimal training could bring Shōnishin into public disrepute if they treat children outside their own household.

As a member of the Japanese Scientific Association of Acupuncture for Children (Nihon Shōni Hari Gakkai), my main aim in running courses is to set a high quality standard in the interest of both small and older children. My courses are based on current traditional Japanese medicine research and on Western health sciences on the other.

Knowledge on child development from both Western and Eastern points of view are an essential lesson of the course. Shōnishin training is best acquired after a basic training in a meridian therapy (e.g. acupuncture, Tuina or Shiatsu) and a minimum six days course. Since, ultimately, children are going to be treated, the motor and sensory aspects of child development in the first 12 months of life are taught, as is energetic development. The most important thing is to understand how the meridians develop, and their influence on child development and development in later life.

Theoretical Basics of Shōnishin

I have based my training of Shonishin upon my nearly 30 years’ experience of working with children. My wife, Karin, initially trained as a physiotherapist and and went on to study shiatsu in Japan. In 1985, she and I founded an institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine just outside Frankfurt, Germany. Karin teaches baby and child shiatsu internationally and is a Founder of the German Shiatsu Society. She has written a number of books on the subject, including Children at Their Best and Baby Shiatsu.

Together, we have developed a modShonishin2el of energetic development that can serve as the theoretical foundation for Shōnishin. It is the basis for understanding child development in its energetic aspect, and ultimately for diagnostic and therapeutic processes that depends on the stages of development.

The model of energetic development is an attempt to bring the knowledge of modern neuroscience, developmental psychology and developmental physiology into harmony with the knowledge and experience of oriental medicine.

The model states that each energetic stage of motor and sensory development builds on the previous developmental stage. The meridians play a primary role in this and represent a communications network connecting the child with her external world. They are then also responsible for the child’s development of posture, movement, patterns of behavior and personality.

Knowing about the ways motor, sensory and energetic functioning are interwoven, opens up new perspectives on child development, resulting in specific treatment approaches. Ultimately, it is the knowledge of meridians in developmental stages forms the foundation for treatment of children of all ages with Shōnishin.

 

Shonishin Training with Thomas Wernicke in the UK:
3 day course as part of the 6 day Shonishin Training with Thomas Wernicke:
When: Saturday 30th May to Monday 1st June 2015
Where: Edinburgh
Cost: Early Bird booking by 31st March 2015 £235, full cost thereafter £260
For more information and to book your place (places limited to 12 people) contact:
Svenja Schaper, Shiatsu Practitioner, Dip. BSS, MRSS, PGCE
svenjashiatsu@movingtouch.co.uk mobile: 07842 563 298

~~~

Thomas Wernicke is a licensed General Practitioner with qualifications in complementary medicine, Chinese and Japanese acupuncture, as well as manual therapies including craniosacral therapy and osteopathy for adults, children and babies, psychosomatic therapy and homeopathy. He is a member of the Japanese Scientific Society for Shonishin, and since 2004, he has been the Training Manager for Daishi Hari Shonishin in Europe. Thomas is also Founding Member and President of the International Society for Traditional Japanese Medicine. He lives in Hochheim, Germany. He has written Shonishin: The Art of Non-Invasive Paediatric Acupuncture publishing by Singing Dragon.