top of page

What is 5 Element Acupuncture?

Five Element Acupuncture is an ancient form of acupuncture based on the principle that there are five universal elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) that affect a person's emotions, personality, health, and response to treatment. Each person is affected by one element more than the others. It is called traditional acupuncture.

Health conditions arise when the five elements become imbalanced: one element will become too strong or active. 

Essentially, Five Element theory is used to help explain the cause of particular diseases, and to associate signs or symptoms to particular organs and afflictions. In the context of “phases,” Five Element theory helps to explain the processes that are occurring the body throughout various stages of disease and healing. This is particularly useful in explaining the processes that take place during the generating and controlling cycles mentioned in Five Element theory.

For acupuncturists, who use a traditional theory, the focus is on the individual, rather than an isolated complaint. The physical, emotional, and mental aspects of life are seen as interdependent. Acupuncturists use subtle diagnostic techniques, such taking the pulse and observing the tongue, that have been developed and refined for thousands of years. Treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body to regulate the flow of ‘qi’ along pathways in the body known as ‘meridians’. Acupuncturists may also use other techniques such as moxibustion, cupping, tuina/massage, and guasha. (Reference: The British Acupuncture Council.)


Body: Spleen, stomach, mouth, muscles
Colour: Yellow
Emotion: Pensive
Flavour: Sweet
Weather: Damp


Body: Liver, gallbladder, tendons, eyes
Colour: Green
Emotion: Anger
Flavour: Sour
Weather: Wind


Body: Heart,

tongue, pulse

Colour: Red
Emotion: Joy
Flavour: Bitter
Weather: Heat


Body: Lungs,

nose, skin

Colour: White
Emotion: Sadness
Flavour: Pungent
Weather: Dry


Body: Kidneys,

ears, bones

Colour: Black
Emotion: Fear
Flavour: Salty
Weather: Cold

What happens during an acupuncture session?

Your initial visit usually takes around an hour and a half and consists of a personal and medical consultation covering your family history, lifestyle, system functions such as sleep and appetite and full details of your current concerns and any tests or investigations that you have had previously.  You will have the opportunity to discuss, in complete confidence, any concerns or troubles you may currently be dealing with.


After your consultation I will carry out a number of short non-invasive physical diagnostic tests including blood pressure, temperature and pulse taking. Together, we will decide which combination of points is right for your whole body as well as your symptoms and this is then followed by your first treatment.


Sometimes acupuncture needles are inserted for just a second or two, or you may be left to rest for a while before the needles are removed. The needles are so fine that most people don’t feel them being inserted. It is normal to feel a mild tingle or dull ache as I adjust the needle. Many people feel deeply relaxed during treatment.  

Normally, you will have a course of treatment. Subsequent appointments take from three quarters of an hour to an hour, and include discussion of your progress and your treatment to date. Weekly sessions are quite usual to begin with, for perhaps five or six treatments, reducing in frequency as your body responds to the treatment. Together, we will agree how often you should come for treatment. 


Acupuncture is one of the safest treatments currently on offer in the UK. In 2001 a large study concluded that the risk of serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000.  Scientific papers have concluded that acupuncture is safe so long as it is delivered by a properly trained individual.


Any minor side effects that do occur, such as dizziness or bruising around needle points, are infrequent, mild and self-correcting.  As acupuncture involves the insertion of needles there will sometimes be a small bruise where the needle was inserted. Occasionally, people can feel dizzy or tired after a treatment, but this passes quickly.


Many people are concerned that acupuncture is painful.  The needles are small and flexible, and only about the size of a couple of human hairs, so it is not at all like having an injection! Some people report a slight dull ache at the acupuncture point, but any sensations are slight, momentary and not uncomfortable.

Five Element Acupuncture
Stimulating your body's natural ability to heal itself.
bottom of page