The doctor of traditional Chinese medicine pulse

Acupuncture Questions and Answers

What happens at an appointment?

During your first consultation Dr Ryan will take a comprehensive history of your health and illness history. Traditional methods of diagnosis and assessments including pulse diagnosis, inspection of the tongue and channel palpation are then used. The history and the results of the assessment together are used to determine the right course of action and the type of acupuncture that will be most helpful for your condition. This provides an overview of the body, not just focusing on a particular symptom.

How many sessions will I need?

 Generally, your second session will be one week later. Subsequent sessions will be spaced as your progress determines. The course of treatments can vary widely. Chronic problems may take more treatments to resolve than conditions that are acute. Your session sequence will be determined after the initial consultation and re-assessed after each session.

Does Acupuncture hurt?

If you are concerned about the acupuncture needles, please know that as far as size goes, the needles used in this clinic are about the width of a strand of hair. Most patients are surprised by how little they feel as the needles are inserted.  After the needles are inserted there is little to no sensation.

How is 5 Element Acupuncture different?

5 Element Acupuncture is arguably the most holistic of the acupuncture styles. It is based on understanding the patient in a constitutional sense. In that sense it has much in common with Homoeopathy. Put simply, each person will have an ‘element’ that is out of balance with the others and this acupuncture system uses that concept to use the other elements to bring the problem one back into balance.

Interrelationships of the Five Elements

There are a number of relationships between the Five Elements that maintain balance. The two most important of these are to do with creation and control.

The Sheng or Generating cycle. This is both a creative and nourishing cycle. It is represented by the flow of energy in a clockwise direction from one element to the other. For example: Water generates and nourishes Wood. Wood generates and nourishes Fire, Fire generates and nourishes Earth, Earth generates and nourishes Metal and Metal generates and nourishes Water and so on.

The ‘Mother and Child’ relationship applies to the creative sequence. As an example, this can be expressed as “Earth is the child of Fire and the mother of Metal.”

The Ko or Controlling cycle. This is a cycle where each Element controls another Element and is in turn controlled by another. For example, Water controls Fire and is controlled by Earth. Fire controls Metal and is controlled by Water Metal controls Wood and is controlled by Fire, Wood controls Earth and is controlled by Metal, Earth controls Water and is controlled by Wood.

In Five Element Acupuncture there is a concept of a constitution that stays with the person for their whole life, much like the constitution concept in Homeopathy.

It is believed that before birth and/or during childhood that a constitutional weakness forms. This was referred to by Worsely as the Causative factor (CF). This creates a block in both the creative and controlling cycles. This disruption to the energy flow is a weakness that inhibits the growth and the development of the person and is the primary cause of the presenting symptoms.

5 Element Acupuncture takes into account, the whole person. It examines the patient’s symptoms as signposts to the imbalance in the energy of the person. Correcting this enables the person to grow, change and to develop their full potential as a human being. By correcting the imbalance, there will be an improvement in the patient’s illness.

There is much more of an emphasis on the emotional level causes of ill health in 5 element acupuncture than in the modern version of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture. The TCM acupuncturist is concerned with finding external causes of disease whereas the 5 Element acupuncturist looks at symptoms as an indication of how out of internal balance the patient has moved. The correction can have a rapid effect on the patient’s sense of wellbeing and harmony before the symptoms improve. This is the same experience as happens when the correct constitutional homeopathic medicine is taken.

The Chinese describe 5 seasons adding Harvest or late summer to the four that we know in the West. Just as the seasons roll into each other year after year, the energies of those seasons (elements) also roll on in a cycle. These energies can be seen in ourselves as a component to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual composition.

Water is the energy of winter, of retreat and is the vital energy of the bladder and kidney meridians.

Wood is the energy of spring of bursting forth after the quietness of winter. It is the vital energy of growth, planning and decision making, the meridians of the liver and gall bladder.

Fire is the energy of summer when action takes place and growth continues. It is the energy that manifests in relationship, communication, humour and intimacy.

Earth is the energy of Harvest or late summer when the growth of spring and summer manifest in fruit and seed. The earth meridians are the stomach and spleen and function as the earth itself does, caring for and nurturing.

Metal is the energy of autumn, the time when leaves fall to fertilize and provide the soil with what it needs for the next year’s growth. This is a letting go or eliminating process. The Metal meridians are the Large Intestine and Lung. It is the energy of the Metal meridians that allow the letting go of that which is not required in the body, mind, and emotions.

Whilst 5 Element acupuncture is very effective, its success is in the skill of the acupuncturist to determine the constitutional imbalance, the weakest element, or ‘Causative Factor’. This assessment is primarily achieved through the observational skills involving the 5 senses. The use of the touch sense is largely through the examination of the pulse where each element and indeed each meridian is represented.