With Mother’s Day fast approaching I thought it would be a good time to tell you a little about how Mothers play a role in acupuncture.
Mother-Child relationships are found nearly everywhere you look- humans, animals, plants (sorta) and Chinese Medical Acupuncture Theory!!
You may have heard of the term “Five Elements” or “Five Element Theory” but I’m sure most of you haven’t delved into the nitty gritty of those elements. The Five Elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water play a key role in a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnosis. This can get confusing so stay with me. Each element has a variety of associations to them- such as a taste, smell, sound, season, climate, direction.... and in TCM the most important: an organ system. The Wood element is associated with the Liver organ system. Fire is associated with the Heart organ system. Earth is associated with the Spleen organ system. Metal is associated with the Lung organ system. Water is associated with the Bladder organ system. Each element is like a person- that exhibits many qualities. And like people, the five elements actually have a particular order in which they exist: each element having both a Mother and a Child. This is called the GENERATING CYCLE.
Wood is the Mother of Fire. Therefore, Fire is the Child of Wood.
Fire is the Mother of Earth. Therefore, Earth is the Child of Fire.
Earth is the Mother of Metal. Therefore, Metal is the Child of Earth.
Metal is the Mother of Water. Therefore, Water is the Child of Metal.
Water is the Mother of Wood. Therefore, Wood is the Child of Water.
And it goes around and around.
For the elements to be in balance, they have to essentially give and take in equal amounts. And like human relationships, there is a system of support that acts as a checks and balances. This is called the CONTROLLING CYCLE. For instance Wood “controls” Earth. And Earth “controls” water. Think of this as a grandparent forming a support relationship with their grandchild that is independent of the child’s parent. A little tag team. Mothers, you know what I’m talking about ;)
These relationships are more easily understood when looking at a diagram.
Keeping these relationships in mind is helpful when thinking about people AND your TCM diagnosis. There is a little bit of every element in every person. You are part your parents, grandparents, great- grandparents and so on just as you are part Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. When there is imbalance in the system, symptoms occur and your diagnosis is formed. So in TCM and in life, we can thank our Mothers for creating us and keeping us healthy! Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mother Figures reading this.
*(The naming of these cycles sound a bit harsh and don’t truly reflect what’s happening. I suspect this is due to a poor translation as the ancient theoretical texts were written in a variety of Chinese dialects and translated many times over before they were printed in English).