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Dr Ryan was trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture, graduating in 1975. This is the style of Acupuncture that Mao Zedong promoted through the training of the ‘barefoot doctors’ program and to the West at about the time of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s. It is not the oldest form documented. The far older (Han dynasty 500BC), and deeper acting Five Element Acupuncture was promoted to Western countries by two Englishmen, Dr Felix Mann and Professor J R Worsely both of whom had studied that version in China before it was discouraged due probably to its links to Taoist philosophy. Mann wrote text books. Worsely began a teaching institute in Leamington Spa in England in the late 1950’s. He had studied with Acupuncture Masters, Ono and Hsui. Mann and Worsely served to both preserve and to spread the 5 Element approach outside of China.

After graduating Dr Ryan studied the books of Felix Mann and was attracted to the simplicity and effectiveness of this style of Acupuncture. In more recent years he has studied the variation presented by Professor Worsely.

There are a number of excellent web sites devoted to 5 Element Acupuncture. A little of the Theory is described here.

The Five Elements are Water, Fire, Wood, Metal and Earth. They are considered to be phases of a cycle of change that continues through life. Disturbance in this cycle leads to ill health. Restoration of the free flow of the cycle is the goal of Acupuncture.

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 Son 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.

five elements

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 Homœopathy.
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 treats the person as a whole. It examines the patient’s symptoms as signposts to the imbalance in the energy of the person. The treatment enables the person to grow, change and to develop their full potential as a human being. By treating 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 treatment 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 homœopathic 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 fertilise and provide the soil with what it needs for the next years 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.

Dr Ryan uses Chinese Pulse Diagnosis as part of his assessment of acupuncture patients. It is used before, during and at the end of a treatment session to determine its effectiveness.

Chinese Scalp Acupuncture (CSA)

Acupuncture in general is an ancient system of healing with records dating back some 2,500 years. The modern system of scalp acupuncture was initially explored in the 1950’s. In 1971 Dr Jiao Shun-fa neurosurgeon in China combined the traditional Chinese medicine principles underlying acupuncture with the modern understanding of neuroanatomy. He is recognised in China as the founder of CSA. He was able to piece together a chart of areas on the scalp that corresponded to brain functions such as sensation and movement. He was also able to locate specific areas that could treat paralysis, tremor, balance, speech and vision disorders and organ function. This has become known as Chinese Scalp Acupuncture (CSA) and is the precursor of a more complex approach developed by Dr Yamamoto in Japan. This is called Yamamoto’s New Scalp Acupuncture (YNSA). Dr Ryan uses both of these approaches in his practice. CSA can be effective in treating pain and numbness and poor function of the limbs. Whilst it is used to treat patients suffering from the effects of stroke and illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, it has many applications in practice. It can be very effective in the treatment of range of motion restrictions and/or pain in joints such as the shoulder, elbow, neck, knee and hip.


Dr Ryan is interested in the application of acupuncture in the management of conditions such as:

  • Trauma including closed head injuries
  • Immune system problems including CFS, IBS, FMS, asthma, frequent infections, chronic recurrent bronchitis and COAD
  • Pre and post operative care; health maintenance through seasonal acupuncture;
  • Postural issues, e.g. scoliosis, FHP, kyphosis, sequele of whiplash
  • Morning sickness, pre-delivery treatment, post natal depression
  • Pre and post operative care; health maintenance through seasonal acupuncture;

He is specifically interested in the application of acupuncture in the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Headache and Migraine syndromes
  • Trigeminal, facial, neck, shoulder and intercostal neuralgia
  • Cerebral and vegetative disturbances
  • Hemiiplegia and post stroke syndromes and paresthesia
  • Facial paralysis including Bell's Palsy
  • Parkinson's syndrome, multiple schlerosis and MND
Further Information PDF Print

Web Sites. There are a very large number of Web sites with information on Acupuncture. There are fewer that offer information on 5 Element Acupuncture. The sites below may be of interest.








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