Kevin Ryan

7 minute read

Dr Ryan was trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) 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 the Orient 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.


The Blending of Acupuncture Styles

Dr Ryan combines styles in acupuncture to give each patient the most effective and efficient treatment. He uses both Channel palpation and the 8 E.V. as they are known, extensively in his practice, along with the traditional and very old systems such as 5 Element acupuncture.

The combining of styles and the use of Chinese pulse diagnosis results in a treatment regime that allows for minimum needle retention times.

Channel Acupuncture

This is an acupuncture style that uses a system of palpation on the meridian or channel to assess which of the channels may be behind the patient’s symptom presentation. There are 365 acupuncture points distributed on 14 meridians or connecting pathways. These mainly named after organ systems.

Over time it was discovered that the tissue through which the channels pass changes in tone or character as illness in the body is reflected in the Channels. This has given rise to an examination technique known as Channel palpation. This method of diagnosis of illness patterns within the patient gives rise to a treatment regimen appropriate to the patient. It shortens considerably the time taken to arrive at an individual diagnosis and an acupuncture treatment management prescription. Channel palpation may also reveal the very beginning of an illness. The Yang ming channel that is made up of the Stomach and large intestine meridians, is commonly found to be problematic in patients coming for treatment of migraine and who also have a history of digestive disorders. Therefore the use of acupuncture points on this channel allows for both the digestion and migraine complaints to be treated at the same time.

The Eight Extraordinary Vessels

Another grouping of acupuncture points into Channels is known as the Extraordinary Channels or more commonly, Vessels. There are 8 of these. These Vessels are particularly helpful in diagnosis and treatment when there appears to be a slow response to other acupuncture approaches or when there are emotional factors active in the patient. For example, patients who have had a history of trauma are often found to have disturbances in one or more of 8 Extraordinary Vessels. Treatment can help the person both with the post-traumatic stress but also with the consequences that it may have on their illness.

5 Element Acupuncture

There are several excellent web sites devoted to 5 Element Acupuncture, describing a little of the theory.

The Five Elements are Water, Fire, Wood, Metal and Earth. They are 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.

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 Homeopathy.

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 whole person. 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 homeopathic 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 year’s 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 at the end of a treatment session to determine its effectiveness.

Web Sites on Five Elemement Acupuncture

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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