Thursday, August 29, 2019

A meditation on the spirits of acupuncture points

(Article prompted by a request for me to write more about the spirit of points from Seán O’Neill of the College of Five Element Acupuncture (CoFEA) in Dublin, Ireland)

One of the conventions of five element acupuncture is that points are said to have their own “spirit”, a quality intrinsic to them which we can tap into when deciding which particular point to select.  According to this convention, a particular action is ascribed to a point. This is a nebulous, very vague term, and I have never felt that much thought has been given as to what it actually means.  Nor is there any consensus about how a point has acquired a particular description.  The assumption behind the term is that when we decide to use this point, we do so on the basis that we think the action traditionally ascribed to this point is one that we feel our patient needs.

This raises the question as to when and by whom the qualities were ascribed to individual points.  In my case, I was fortunate to be part of one of the last cohorts of acupuncturists whose teacher was the great master of five element acupuncture, JR Worsley.  I would listen avidly in class when he would suggest particular points to be used for patients we would see in the college clinic, and write down what he told us.  I still have my notes taken at the time, which have acted since then as welcome signposts in the often bewildering landscape of the traditionally 365 or so points available for us to select from.

I remember one awesome day with JR during the Masters programme I completed with him (the last he was to take), when he took up his famous brown point reference chart which lists the names and functions of all the points, and read slowly through the list, from Heart 1 to Governor Vessel 28, spelling out the name of each point with love in his voice, as though these were his beloved friends.  About some points he said very little, about others, quite a lot, and this is when I realised that he had acquired some esoteric knowledge conveyed to him no doubt through his own acupuncture masters, but which I would never aspire to.  On the other hand, I have used my time as teacher to pass on my own understanding of the points I use to the students I have taught, based very much on what JR told us, but also on my own experiences.  And this is how the inheritance of a lineage moves on from generation to generation.

The problem I have with the term “the spirit of a point”  is that it can all too easily be assumed that a point can have a quality which is almost objectively established, much like that attributed to the action of a specific drug.  It does not take account of the individual practitioner’s understanding of why he/she feels this particular point should be selected for this treatment.  An objectively ascribed function of a point should be regarded as an alien concept to us five element acupuncturists, where each treatment we select is based upon our subjective evaluation of our patients’ needs, guided through the prism of our understanding of the elements and their officials.  Professor Liu Lihong in his book Classical Chinese Medicine emphasizes the contrast between the Western medical approach and that of traditional Chinese medicine by saying that “Western medicine is biased towards objectivity”, whereas Chinese medicine “places great emphasis on the subjective experience”. Each acupuncture treatment is therefore seen as drawing upon some subjective quality in both the patient and practitioner rather than on a fixed quality within a point which remains constant whenever this point is used.

This has made me look carefully at what actually happens at the site of an acupuncture point, something we rarely think about.  Each point can be seen as representing a slight opening along the pathway of a meridian.  This is where an acupuncture needle can be inserted which by its action can alter the flow of energy along that meridian in some way.  Each point is one of the many places where the energy passing along a meridian makes itself available to outside intervention, in the case of acupuncture through the insertion of a needle.  It is therefore where what is within us can react to influences acting upon us from outside.  It is also where what might be called intrinsic to the point, its particular quality, meets something coming towards it which the spirit of the acupuncturist brings to the action of selecting and needling this particular point.  To this must be added a further component, which is what the spirit of the patient preparing him/herself to receive this treatment also brings to the needle’s action.

It is good to look at what happens at the interface between a patient, his/her practitioner and the needle which acts as the conduit between patient and practitioner.  Each of us can be seen as a distillation of the combined energies of the elements within us which emanate from us both as a shield and an invitation when we encounter another person.  In return, we receive from this other person a flood of different energies as though summoned by each of us when we encounter somebody else.  When we look at this interaction in terms of acupuncture treatment, the needle becomes the physical point of contact between two people, the practitioner and the patient. 

In Lingshu chapter 9 it says, “The needle is inserted in the surface area and remains a while, manipulated with delicacy and at the surface, in order to move the spirits.” In this context, in their examination of the patient- practitioner relationship,Father Larre and Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée add their own explanation in an article in the Review of Traditional Acupuncture.  They say that “the most important thing for healing is the relationship of the practitioner, the spirits and the patient.” 

We therefore have three components which, when acting together, contribute to the success of treatment: the selected point itself, with any particular qualities associated with it, the practitioner and the patient. In talking about the spirit of a point, though, we often focus only on what is considered to be the characteristic of the point itself, either forgetting altogether those two other aspects associated with any treatment, or regarding them as not as important.  It seems to me obvious that the spirits of both practitioner and patient also play an important role in endowing a treatment with a specific quality.  In fact, it is only when the three act in tandem and in harmony with each other that the “spirits” will move, as we hope they will.

Here I am always reminded of an occasion many years ago when a young acupuncturist friend of mine complained to me one day, “How come I use the same points as you do, but don’t get the same results?”  Thinking about this, I realised that the reason must have lain in my friend’s doubts about what five element acupuncture could do.  These were the early days of TCM’s onslaught upon the practice of five element acupuncture in this country, when people began to be persuaded that five element acupuncture would only work if it incorporated TCM into its treatment protocols.  My friend was beset by doubts about his five element practice, since he worked with a group of other acupuncturists who were telling him that five element acupuncture “had had its day”.  Eventually, he abandoned five element acupuncture altogether, and moved to a TCM-based practice.  I therefore assumed that the uncertainty he had about the efficacy of the five element protocols he was using was conveying itself both to the needles themselves and presumably, also, to his attitude to his practice, and robbing his five element treatments of the absolute certainty which I had then, and have maintained in my many years since then, that a pure five element acupuncture treatment offers a profound form of healing.

The great majority of points lie along meridians associated with one of the five elements.  The greatest influence acting upon a point must therefore be the fact that each of these points takes on some of the qualities of a particular element.  Any point along the two Earth officials, Spleen and Stomach, for example, reflect some of the Earth element’s fundamental functions, each point, from Spleen 1–21 to Stomach 1– 45 (a total of 66 points in all) bearing the stamp of this element.  

At the most fundamental level, any point which lies on a meridian associated with one of the five elements receives some of its “spirit” from the properties of that element.  To help them in their point selection, therefore, practitioners have to steep themselves in their understanding of the elements and their officials.  Because all our efforts are directed at establishing which of the five elements is what I call the guardian element (the element of the causative factor of disease, the CF), much of what might seem the difficult work of point selection is made very simple once we are sure we are directing our treatment at the right element.  For all we need then do is concentrate upon choosing points on one or other of that element’s officials, or on both of the officials, and the element will then take over responsibility, with little nudges from us as treatment progresses.   Every one of these points is able to express the “spirit” of its element.  To stop us novice acupuncturists from being too daunted at the wide array of points available to us, JR would always remind us that good treatment could simply consist in needling an element’s source points time and time again.  This would produce the same result as choosing more complex treatments, but “it may only take a little longer”.  The purity of five element treatments was one of the main reasons by JR would say that five element acupuncture is such a simple discipline, “any child would understand it”.

In addition to a point’s association with a particular element and official, there is a further layer which contributes to point selection, and that is that certain points have been given specific functions in relation to the element to which they belong.  The most common of these functions is that associated with the group of points clustered around the arm and leg which we call command points.  These include what are called tonification, sedation and horary points, plus five individual element points.  Thus the Water officials, Kidney and Bladder, each have a Wood point, a Fire point, an Earth point, a Metal point and a Water point, creating an inner five element circle within each official.  These element points are like a reflection in miniature of the large five element circle.  Some points also have other functions when they form part of a sequence of points used in specific treatment protocols, such as those used for clearing Aggressive Energy, Possession, Entry/Exit blocks or a Husband/Wife imbalance.

In selecting which of the element’s points we should use at any treatment, we can also draw on our interpretation of the names the points have been given over the centuries, another profound and often confusing area of point selection.  A point’s name is very evocative, awakening in each one of us very different feelings, and finding personal echoes because of our particular life experiences.  There are many ways in which it will be up to each practitioner to choose a description which seems to him/her to best respond to their patient’s needs at any particular time.  For this reason, no two practitioners are likely to make the same choice of points for the same patient, though both may be making appropriate choices.

The trouble is that it is natural for people to like certainty.  Even the most experienced five element acupuncturist likes to have a handle to hold on to by being told that a point has a certain action, since this helps to give some fixed signposts in the often bewildering area of point selection.  Because there is so much that is indefinable in our work, any little pointer which helps us towards making a point selection may be too quickly snatched at.  I remember how eagerly as students we would seize on any description of a point’s action as though giving us a secure footing in the very mysterious world of point selection.  It requires some courage to accept that our own subjective input into point selection is a crucial component in the success of any treatment.  But then I have always said that five element acupuncture, with its emphasis on the importance of the practitioner’s input, is not for the faint-hearted.

I have concluded that the concentrated focus of a practitioner upon what he/she intends to be the outcome of the proposed treatment forms part of the treatment, if not its most important part, as though the practitioner’s energy directed at achieving the outcome of the treatment he/she is intending to give is itself something which adds to the depth and success of the treatment.  The spirit a practitioner brings to needling any acupuncture point is a function of a very complex interweaving of past experiences, the relationship of patient to practitioner, as well as something inherent within the point, at a deep level coming from its association with the functions of a particular element.  All this weaves together a web of personal associations which will differ for each practitioner.  Every time I needle Liver 14, Gate of Hope, I instil into this point all my belief as to why I think this patient is of the Wood element, plus all my years of delving into the mysterious world of the Wood element, and its Liver official in particular, and why I think it is good today to use this point to offer hope to my patient.

As a final illustration of the power of the interactions of the spirits of practitioner, patient and point is a moving occasion that occurred very early on in my practice when as a newly-qualified acupuncturist I found myself trying to decide whether I could detect a Husband/Wife imbalance in my patient.  Still somewhat unsure whether I was interpreting the patient’s pulse picture correctly, I started to mark up the sequence of points to clear the H/W, working rather slowly as I wasn’t sure that this was the treatment I needed to do.  As I marked the first few points on the foot (Bl 67, Ki 7),  my patient suddenly said, “That’s a rather frightening thing that Husband/Wife imbalance your Professor Worsley writes about.”  I had lent my patient a book by JR in which he described this imbalance, but she had never mentioned until this moment that she had actually read it.  I sent thanks up to heaven for this encouragement, and with a lighter heart continued clearing the H/W block which I felt her words had confirmed for me.  This was a moving example of the spirits of patient, practitioner and point combining to create a successful treatment.

Since traditional Chinese medicine places great emphasis on the subjective experience, as Professor Liu Lihong points out, there is nothing more subjective than an individual practitioner’s assessment of why he/she feels the patient needs a particular point or points on that particular day.  Each point becomes as though impregnated with our own personal narrative, which our use over the years has added to it.  I revel in the fact that every time I select a point, I bring to my selection the understanding of the particular element or official associated with that point which I have gained from my experience as practitioner over the years.  

Copyright:  Nora Franglen 2019

Saturday, July 13, 2019

27. The way people walk

Since our observations will be filtered through our own personal spectacles, we will all observe the life around us from different angles.  I notice, for example, that I appear to be very aware of the way people walk, and can recognise them from a long way away just by the way they are moving and well before I can even see their faces as they come towards me.  This is therefore one of the things I look for in patients to help me with my diagnosis.  There may not be as much time to observe their walk as they move towards me in the practice room as there is out in the street, but if we extend the concept of walking to include the way a person moves in general, we can obtain a surprising amount of information even within the small confines of a practice room and the comparatively brief time we have with a patient.

My observation of movement was originally sparked by something my own practitioner at the time once said to me.  At the end of treatment I was told to get up from the couch and get dressed.  Apparently, although I myself didn’t realise this, I leapt off the couch in a hurry, reaching for my clothes almost before my feet had touched the ground.  “Goodness”, she said, “you are a speedy person.”  At the time, not having observed people as closely as I do now, I had not noticed that my movements are always quick, often much quicker than others around me, and speed up even more when I think somebody is waiting for me to leave and I assume, usually wrongly, that they are waiting impatiently, as I may well have thought my practitioner was.

Thinking back on this from my present standpoint, I realise that the speed of my springing up from the couch was closely associated with my fear, one that I have always had, that I am somehow outstaying my welcome and need to get myself out of the way quickly.  Fire, my element, is naturally an energetic element, but added to my natural Fire quickness was also Fire’s fear that it is somehow not getting something right.  I suppose this comes from its very heightened awareness of others and of others’ needs, and its desire to ensure that what it does is not upsetting to other people.  My rapid jumping up from the couch could then be interpreted as a clear pointer to the Fire element.  It took me some time to put this quick interaction in the practice room into context, and see it as pointing towards an example of the Fire element in action within me.

Another example was offered me when I was casually watching some golf on TV, and I suddenly noticed the golfer Rory McIlroy’s walk.  I can best describe it as a kind of jaunty stride.  It is certainly not a stroll nor does it appear to be a form  of hurrying, and yet I can find no better way of describing it than to say that he walks as though pushing the air aside in front of him, not in any way aggressively, but firmly.  It is definitely a stride, but done with a kind of joyousness to it.  He is so obviously an excellent example of the Fire element.  He can’t stop smiling as he walks, nor can he can’t stop wanting to make other people laugh.  You feel that if you were in front of him you would have to give way to allow this force of nature to pass by.

That set me thinking about the different ways the other elements walk.  I then compared McIlroy’s walk with that of another golfer who I diagnosed as the Wood element.  Wood, after all, is another very yang, outgoing element, with perhaps an even more forceful signature than Fire as its hallmark.  But this Wood golfer’s walk, though firm, differed from McIlroy’s because it did not have the same kind of joyous spring to it.  It was more of a firm placing of one foot in front of the other, a kind of a stomp, like someone claiming that bit of ground for himself, so that he made me more aware of the force with which each foot landed on the ground.  McIlroy’s stride makes me aware of the top of his body, as his chest pushes aside the air in front of him, the Wood golfer’s more of his feet conquering the ground.  This may seem a little fanciful, but I don’t think it is.  Wood, after all, emphasizes the feet, Fire the top half of the body.  If I think of a Wood person coming towards me, the word “striding” comes to mind, adding another distinctive layer to the concept of a walk.  Striding is first of all a vigorous activity, as though the air is being moved aside to allow the person through.  It is a robust form of walking, and is a good description of the kind of strong actions which Wood’s body enjoys.  If we are wondering if a person is Wood, therefore, it would be good to ask ourselves whether we can imagine them as striding rather than strolling towards that future which is where all Wood people want to head. 

All this made me think about my own Fire stride.  Did I have something akin to McIlroy’s walk, and did other Fire people, too, or had my observation not revealed a characteristic peculiar to all Fire people but only to the one?  I have not yet come to any satisfactory conclusion about this, but if anybody were to watch me walking along the street they might be surprised to note how often I glance in shop windows as I try and catch myself in mid-stride to analyse how I am walking.   

Whilst I am in the world of golf, I can also think of golfers who are Earth, and compare their walk to that of people of other elements.  Like many Earth people, I notice that they place their feet very solidly on the ground, and one could picture all their ten toes spreading out to find as much support for their body as they could.  I have often noticed this about Earth people, and realised that it is not surprising that an element with such a need for stability, literally for “ground beneath their feet”, should make their contact with this ground as firm as possible.

I can’t at the moment find any good example of Water golfers, though I am sure they are there, as all the elements are in every walk of life, but a supremely characteristic Water sportsman from another sport is Roger Federer, the tennis player.  There is a rhythm and sinuous flow to his movements which mimics that of what I am sure is his element, Water.  I would imagine that the Water element must be well-represented in dancers, for that reason.

Finally, an obvious Metal sportsman whose movements were not as flowing as Water’s, but were completely focused on the goal ahead was a former 100 metre Olympic champion, Linford Christie, whose almost trance-like stare as he looked up from his blocks ready to run always seemed to me to be the epitome of Metal’s determination to reach its goal.  Metal, like Water, is light on its feet, but does not float so much as glide.  It reflects a person that somehow wants to move upwards, and dislikes being tied to the earth, unlike its fellow element, Earth, which so clearly needs always to be tethered to the ground in some way.

It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that it is usually Earth people who develop a fear of flying, often experiencing the moment when the aircraft takes off as something frightening.  It is no coincidence that the Earth command points are on the feet and legs, whilst those of Metal are on the hands and arms.  Feet can only leave the ground for very short stretches of time.  Hands are free to move away from the body, and, most significantly, can stretch up above our heads.  Both positions of the two elements’ command points symbolically represent their respective elements’ needs, Earth’s to anchor itself firmly to the ground, Metal’s to allow itself the freedom to explore.




Some very Water-like words from Roger Federer at this week's Wimbledon tennis tournament

I have always thought that Roger Federer is Water.  I can’t see his colour or smell his smell when I watch him on TV, but his body movements are so fluid, as if he flows through the air, and I think his voice is the kind of groaning I associate with water flowing around rocks.  So I was amused to read the following in the Guardian newspaper a day or so ago:

“Their (the crowd’s) love for Federer is boundless.  And he appreciates it more than people realise. In an interesting aside later, the Swiss was asked how much time he spends alone.

Not much,” Federer said, pausing. “I don’t like being alone. I mean, I’m not afraid of being alone. I like being surrounded by my friends, family. It’s obviously the best. I like talking to people. Now with four kids anyway, there is a lot of that, which is perfect for me in my life because I’m very happy.”

I always think of Water people as being like individual drops of water that stream together with their fellows to form the flow of Water which creates a pond, a river, an ocean or a shower of rain.  It’s therefore nice to receive some confirmation of this in Roger Federer’s words.  I find it interesting, too, that he uses the words “I’m not afraid” when describing how he feels when he is alone.  There is a tinge of fear revealed in his use of the word “afraid”, even though he is denying that he is.  (Water never acknowledges its fear, for that makes it vulnerable.)  I asked myself if I, a Fire person, would ever say “I am not afraid of being alone”, and realised that I would not.  This is because I am not afraid of being alone, but if I feel lonely it will be sadness, not fear, that I feel.

Earth, too, will not enjoy being alone, for it enjoys being surrounded by the company of others.  Metal is perfectly happy being alone, since it is definitely the element which most enjoys its own company, often preferring it to that of others.  I don’t think it matters very much to Wood whether it is alone or with people, since it is so occupied with planning and doing things, and people will either help him do that or get in its way.

I enjoy piecing together fresh little thoughts like this about the different ways the elements express themselves, prompted by something that I read or see.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Another revealing glimpse into the mysterious world of the Water element

I have a dedicated searcher after five element truths to thank for the following addition to my understanding of the Water element, all the way from the South of France:

“I send you a very interesting thought about Water as Guardian Element. Like you I find it more difficult to identify this element as a CF. But, yesterday a Water CF person, a man, told me: " The treatment really helps me, I find myself more relaxed inside, but nobody can see that! (Water often expresses a relaxed attitude to avoid showing their fear)" and he continues, saying : "I realize that I am not an angry person like I thought because now in conflict with people I try to round the angles".

What a beautiful sentence, representing Water in nature polishing rocks, rounding the angles...! 

I continue to learn with Nature and your books as masters.”

Thank you yet again for your insights, Pierre.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Another happy SOFEA seminar day on 9 June

People tell me that I never like to trumpet the successes of what our little band of dedicated five element acupuncturists do to promote the calling that we love.  So this blog is my attempt to make good this fault a little.  It has been promoted by the following two lovely compliments we received from attendees at our London seminar last weekend:

I was truly starving for 5 Element teaching after 10 years not being in the UK for extra courses. So that was why my smile was from ear to ear for most of the day. Tears because of coming home again in this BEAUTIFUL 5 Element world.

I want to wish you (Guy) and Nora all the best and hope to meet you one day again.”
“It was wonderful to be amongst like-minded folk and I really appreciate the feedback on my patients from a ‘fresh pair of eyes’.  I’m sure both patients will continue to do well with their treatments”.
As usual, Guy and I emerged from the day re-inspired from our day-long immersion in the world of the elements with a group of like-minded acupuncturists, acupuncture students and those just keen to learn more about the elements.  This time we saw four patients brought by some of those attending;  we helped with their diagnosis and supervised treatments for each of them.  We were delighted that the group understood that they need not be concerned about “getting the element right”, but instead have learnt to accept that this always takes time, remembering my mantra “Don’t hurry!  Don’t worry!”
We have devised a very useful way of helping with the diagnosis by asking the group whether they feel the patient makes the energy in the room go up, go down or “neither up nor down”, as the good old Duke of York says in the nursery rhyme.  Up is obviously more yang (therefore Wood or Fire), down more yin (therefore Metal or Water) and in-between is more likely to be Earth.  We have found this a surprisingly accurate way of discarding some elements and emphasizing the one or two the patient may be.  Usually the majority in the room, even among the 300 or more in China and the lesser number in this country, experience the same effect of a patient’s energy upon them.  This simple method by itself usually reduces the potential number of elements to choose from five down to two, or at most three, always a helpful way to start our diagnosis.
Our next London seminar on 29 September is now fully booked, with a waiting list, but there are still a few places left for our spring 2020 seminar on Sunday 9 February.  Booking forms can be downloaded from our website:





Saturday, June 8, 2019

My review of Professor Liu Lihong's book: Classical Chinese Medicine

Published by The Chinese University Press
The Chinese University of Hong Kong 2019
I would like to start my review of Liu Lihong’s book with the words with which he ends it:

"Why is this book titled “Contemplating Chinese Medicine” in Chinese? What is it that we are contemplating? It is nothing other than these underlying principles, nothing other than the mysteries of nature and life as deciphered through the orientations of time.”  

Liu Lihong was the person who invited me eight years ago to come to China to give an introductory seminar on five element acupuncture, and has since then steadfastly promoted five element acupuncture as a valid discipline of traditional Chinese medicine.  It was therefore a lovely moment of recognition for these years of my work in China since then to read the following in Heiner Fruehauf’s introduction:
…”Liu Lihong has developed the Institute (for the Clinical Research of Classical Chinese Medicine) into an influential platform that has reintroduced multiple classical lineages to contemporary scholarly discourse, most notably the Fire Spirit School of Sichuan herbalism (huoshen pai), the traditional system of emotional healing synthesized by the Confucian educator Wang Fengyi (1864-1937), and classical five-element-style acupuncture. Each one of these efforts has had a considerable impact on the grassroots momentum of Chinese Medicine education in China.”
Joyful at thus seeing evidence of the importance of my work in China, I was delighted at last to be able to read the book which was the catalyst those eight years ago for Mei Long to write to Liu Lihong, urging him to acquaint himself with this discipline of traditional Chinese medicine, one which she recognized was very close to his own approach.  It has been with much surprise and delight now to receive confirmation that all that I was taught by the great master of five element acupuncture, JR Worsley himself, all that I have since learnt for myself and from my readings of the classics through translations by Father Larre and Elisabeth Rochat, all of this finds strong, almost eerie echoes in what Liu Lihong writes.

Though the book includes much detailed discussion of herbal remedies, since Liu Lihong is a herbalist, I have come to regard it much more as a profound philosophical exposition of Chinese thought, and it could well have been entitled Classical Chinese Philosophy.  Certainly the profound insights about Dao, yin yang and the five elements, which are the main emphasis of the book, also form the bedrock of my five element practice.  In particular, he emphasizes, as JR Worsley always did, the importance of regarding ourselves as embedded in nature.  As he says:

“When discussing Chinese Medicine, the backdrop of the natural world cannot be forgotten. If you have a thorough understanding of the natural world, your foundation in Chinese Medicine will be sound and your understanding can progress.”(p. 375)

Of the many insights I gained from my reading of this book, none impressed me more than the clarity with which he compares traditional Chinese medicine and modern Western medicine, clearly seeing that they spring from different approaches which cannot be melded together into one system as so many people now attempt to do.  Instead he regards them as complementing each other, provided that their fundamental differences are acknowledged.  For instance he writes:

“Western Medicine is clearly biased towards objectivity rather than subjectivity…..Chinese Medicine is vastly different in this respect and places great emphasis on the subjective experience.” (p.262)

I also find the humility he shows in relation to his own understanding of his discipline quite startling and very impressive, such is his respect for his masters whose influence on his development he acknowledges.  I always feel that teachers who are not afraid to know that they have more to learn are the ones I can truly learn from.

And here I encounter a slight problem, for though, quite rightly, he claims that the best, if not the only true way of learning is to sit at the feet of an acknowledged master of whatever discipline we wish to practice (and did I not do exactly that when I was fortunate enough to find my way to JR Worsley?), how are we to find such masters in a world, as he says, where institutionalized classroom learning is valued more highly than the kind of personal transmission from master to pupil?  And even more pertinently, where are the great clinical teachers without which there can be no transmission of such profound age-old disciplines?  Liu Lihong, too, is also deeply concerned about the increasing depletion in the number of those who have sufficient clinical experience to warrant being given the name of masters of their discipline, whilst there are ever-increasing numbers of those eager to learn from such masters.

This is something I have had to struggle with during my time in China, for I often ask myself how can I and my small cohort of two other five element teachers, Guy Caplan and Mei Long, alone pass on as much as we can in the form of personal transmission through our seminars to as many people as we can.  It is with great relief, therefore, that, thanks to Liu Lihong’s efforts and that of those working at his Tong You San He foundation, I can at last be reassured that there is an ever-larger group of Chinese five element teachers who can now pass on their understanding of five element practice to others.

The world needs people of vision, such as Liu Lihong, and I am honoured to have been able to work with and for him.  I am profoundly grateful that my efforts to re-introduce five element acupuncture to the country of its birth have been recognized by him as making a significant contribution to his work in so firmly and courageously ensuring that classical Chinese medicine, including five element acupuncture, now takes its rightful place at the forefront of modern medicine as a profound medical discipline in its own right.

Finally, I want to express my admiration for the team of translators, led by the book’s editor, Heiner Fruehauf, who have made such a tremendous job of creating an English version which reads so beautifully and eloquently.  As a former translator in another life, and still a translator from French into English of Elisabeth Rochat’s work, I appreciate from a very personal point of view the many hours, days and weeks of hard work such an excellent translation would have demanded.