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Five-element (also translated as movement or phase) acupuncture provides a comprehensive and flexible model allowing the holistic mapping of a person and environment and promoting the dynamic harmonization and balancing of its components.

Five-element theory remains a pillar of classic Chinese medicine and philosophy, manifested in music composition, feng shui, martial arts, astronomy and even agriculture. Similar conceptualizations may also be observed at the core of very different healing traditions such as Ayurvedic, Greek, Arabic and Native American medicines.

Korean acupuncturists have developed a sophisticated therapeutic approach based on the five-element theory. Body and mind imbalances, both chronic and acute, can be understood through the dynamic inter-relationships of the system components and the resulting constitutional traits in a person or patient. Practitioners are enabled to devise therapeutic strategies by accessing major acupuncture points on the legs and arms, addressing significant energy deficiencies or excesses.

The resulting treatments are characterized by an elegant and effective needling from just a few (4 to 8) needles on meridian distal points, acknowledging the overall importance of intention, rebalancing and a relaxation-meditative state.


Korean Buddhist monk Sa-Ahm is attributed the development of five element acupuncture in the 17th Century, an approach also widely promoted by British author J.R. Worsley since the 1960’s.

For more information on Korean five-element acupuncture:

“A Study of the Sa-Ahm Five Element Acupuncture Theory” by Anh, C. B. & al in Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies 2009;2(4):309?320.