Five Element Acupuncture. What is it? By Kerry Marshall, Licensed Acupucnturist

“Nothing on earth or within the universe is unrelated to the Five Elements and Man (Woman) is no exception.” – (Ling Shu, ancient text Han dynasty)

I am a nature lover and was attracted to Five Element teachings as it sung to my tune of observing human emotions and health with the expressions of the natural world. The elements WOOD, FIRE, EARTH, METAL and WATER are believed to be the energetic matter our world is made up of.


Observing the cycles of seasons and weather patterns is a way of recognising the movements of the Five Elements. The dormant stillness of winter, Water giving way to the agitated growth in early spring. Wood, the abundance and fullness of summer. Fire, softening into late summer. Earth and the letting go of Autumn. Metal, contracting to the point of inertia that is winter again, Water.

Our external conditions and environment contribute to the way we behave and express ourselves. Being mindful of the seasons and weather is a way of  adjusting our lifestyles to be more in sync with nature and be more responsible for our health.


Each element is defined by a set of associations and it is within these groupings that we observe how the elements reside in the body. They effect our health, emotions and expression of the energy or current season.  They are colour, sound, emotion, odour, season, climate, taste, power and organs.



Green, shouting, anger, rancid, spring, wind, sour, growth, Liver and Gall Bladder.


Red, laughing, joy, scorched, summer, heat, bitter, maturity, Heart and Small intestine.


Yellow, singing, sympathy/worry, fragrant, late summer, humidity, sweet, harvest, Stomach and Spleen.


White, weeping, grief, rotten, autumn, dryness, pungent, decrease, Lung and Large Intestine.


Blue, groaning, fear, putrid, winter, cold, salty, storage, Kidney and Bladder.


Five Element style of acupuncture can be used alone or combined with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Initially, we take a detailed health history of the main complaint and presenting symptoms, physical and emotional. With observations like pulse, tongue, colouring around eyes and voice tone a pattern appears that fits one or more of the five elements.  Mostly one will be expressed more clearly, (the root cause) and treatment is aimed to restore its functioning and harmonise all elements.

I like to explain this using a metaphor of a tree. Symptoms are like branches leaves and flowers and the causes can be in the soil or from external factors like climate.   If we collect all the symptoms, identify the causes and amend where possible we can treat the roots (the root cause). This is where I focus treatment because if there is a good root system with the right conditions in place a tree will flourish.

Exploring how we function according to the five elements can reveal clues to our health and illness, emotional expressions, food and lifestyle choices.  Above is just a taste and if you feel this style of acupuncture is for you I am happy to discuss more in the treatment room.

Kerry works Tuesday and Friday mornings from 9am – 2pm.

138 Tanti Avenue, Mornington