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Five Element Acupuncture


Qi is the Chinese word which describes the energy of life - our breath or our ‘life force’ and that of all living things.

The key to understanding Qi is simply looking at nature. 

The ancient Taoists assembled a theory of Five Elements or Phases of Qi, through observing and becoming one with nature's elemental flows. They felt into how the ebb and flow of natural energy led to certain cycles; the elements of life giving rise to each other, controlling each other and generating harmony or imbalance depending on how they interact. 

The chart below shows these five elements and their inter-relating. 



                            Five Elements or Phases of Qi  


The easiest place to see these cycles in life is through the seasons of the year:

Winter is an expression of the element ‘Water’.  At this time nature is still and almost dormant; all the energy is potential energy, held underground frozen and seemingly inert, waiting in deep reserves. Waiting until just that moment at which the energy starts to rise, to find expression and grow. It pushes up out of the ground and we have spring: an expression of ‘Wood’, elementally. 

Growth continues to mature and the warmth of summer brings the ripening, joy and ease of the ‘Fire’ element or phase.  Late summer brings a mellower feel and the abundance and nourishment of harvest time, associated with the element of ‘Earth’. 

As this gives way to autumn, the leaves fall and all that which is surplus is discarded so that the energy may turn inward and find the precious inner qualities of life.  This is the movement of the ‘Metal’ element or phase.  This returns us to the source and back round the cycle to Water, which gathers and holds the energy in stillness, incubating it for the next round of growth and experience. 



We can witness these elemental flows of nature as our environment, the ‘macrocosm’. They are equally present in us, as the ‘microcosm’ or individual representation. We are always moving through these phases of change as the interaction of these different ‘flavours’ or elements of experience. We can see this in the short term or over longer term; though observing our daily life, work, projects, relationships, life span and even our ‘spiritual path’. 

It is the balance of these elements that governs our overall wellbeing, and how well we can recover from illness and setbacks.  When there is harmony and balanced interaction, we are well. When there is discord and imbalance, we experience problems and symptoms arise related to the imbalance.  The overall balance affects our on going state of mind and health.

Five Element acupuncture uses this understanding to encourage healing in the person, specifically and generally.  The aim is to help us towards our greatest potential and wellbeing in life, step by step.



Tmake an acupuncture appointment or ask more:    contact Mary 


Mary Heneghan
BA(Hons), MA, MSc, Lic Ac, MBAcC
Member of the British Acupuncture Council

Five Element Chart © E D Goodchild and College of Integrated Chinese Medicine, Reading, UK
remainder © Mary Heneghan