The Five Element Theory
Traditional Chinese Medicine is founded on the principles of two key theories.
The first – the Yin Yang theory – argues that everything in the universe is either dark, cold and still (Yin) or warm, light and moving (Yang), and that transitions and interactions of everything in our universe, from the changing of the seasons to human biology, must always be an interaction between the two.
The second school of thought used in ancient Eastern medicine is the Five Element theory, also known as the Five Phase Theory, and this has been used as a primary method of diagnosis and treatment for more than 2,000 years.
The Five Elements Theory argues that all energy in the universe presents itself in the form of one of five elements – Earth, Fire, Wood, Water or Metal and, as we play a part in our universe, those elements are also present in us.
Human wellbeing, the ancients believed, is defined by the balance of the Five Elements within us. From birth, the delicate balance of our elemental energy is susceptible to varying degrees of change and where there is imbalance, wellbeing is compromised.
This can be to a small extent, manifested in minor ailments, or to a greater degree, manifesting as more serious conditions.
Each element is associated with certain senses – colour, sound, emotion or smell – and while learning those associations is relatively easy, recognising when the imbalance, understanding its relevance from a diagnostic or curative perspective and locating the root cause of the problem is very much more difficult, taking skill, experience and expertise.
Traditional Chinese Medicine also unconditionally accepts that no two energies in the universe are the same, even when circumstances or species are identical, and so as acupuncturists practicing the Five Elements Theory, we never treat any two people in the same way – the needs, circumstances and treatments of each person are unique.
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