The Complete Stems and Branches book cover

The Complete Stems and Branches

Time and Space in Traditional Acupuncture

This exciting and comprehensive book gives a clear, detailed and accessible presentation of the core components of classical acupuncture, its philosophy as well as clinical applications.

The cosmological Daoism prevalent during the Han dynasty provided a foundation for the emerging acupuncture theory. In particular, the central tenant that Heaven Earth and humanity were connected via their origins, yuan qi, allowed for resonance between them. Hence observable patterns in Heaven and on Earth were reflected in the body.

Time measures the movements of heavenly bodies around earth. Concepts linked to time are woven into the fabric of acupuncture theory. Yin and yang interact and create the five elements, which are expressions of the qualities of the seasons. The number of main acupuncture points, flows of qi and blood, and even the meridian system itself, all has a relationship to time.

By taking account of the specific time of treatment as well as the energetic makeup of the individual you, as a practitioner, will learn to treat in harmony with the Dao of the patient and the Dao of now.

  • This book explores Heaven, Earth and Humanity, five phases, six divisions of yin and yang, in depth and with reference to classical sources.
  • This is the first fully comprehensive book to explore all of the concepts involved in stems and branches theory and to deal with its wider application.
  • Esoteric ideas which connect acupuncture with trigrams with numerology are examined.
  • This is the first book to explore the significance of the Han sky systematically and in depth in relation to classical acupuncture.
  • That each chapter covers philosophical theory and uses practical examples and exercise throughout marks this book out as unique among modern texts.
  • Easy to follow and easy to use



Published: October 2008

Imprint: Churchill Livingstone

ISBN: 978-0-7020-2961-5


  • Contents

    Table of divisions, stems, branches,
    24 solar periods, 28 lunar mansions


    PART ONE Time, space and the Dao
    Chapter 1: Non-time
    Four seas
    Eight extraordinary meridians

    Chapter 2: Sequential time
    Reproductive life
    Ageing habits
    Forbidden years

    Chapter 3: Cyclical time
    Day and night
    The four seasons
    The five elements
    Moon cycles
    Case study

    Chapter 4: The calendar
    Farmer’s Calendar
    Xia (Hsia) calendar
    Lunar–solar calendar
    Ever increasing cycles

    Chapter 5: Heaven, Earth and humankind (tian, di, ren)
    Humans – between a rock and a high place
    The centre
    The birth of humankind
    Humankind’s creativity
    The middle region
    The triple heater
    Clear Heaven and muddy Earth
    Nine pulses of the three regions
    Treatments using the principles of Heaven, Earth and humankind
    Treatment of mental and emotional disorders

    Chapter 6: Wu xing – five elements
    The sheng cycle
    The ke cycle
    PART TWO Heavenly stems and earthly branches – tian gan di zhi

    Chapter 7: Divisions
    Divisions of the body
    Internal/external pairings of divisions
    Host divisions
    Guest division
    Treatment strategies
    Case study

    Chapter 8: Great movements

    Chapter 9: Stem organs
    Command points
    Balanced qi
    Unbalanced qi
    Stem treatments
    Divergent meridians

    Chapter 10: Branches (di zhi)
    Chinese clock
    Branch inner energy
    Branch meridian sequence – the sheng cycle
    Branch treatments

    Chapter 11: Putting it all together
    The Stems and Branches Year Chart
    Personal chart
    Four pillars
    Case studies
    General rules

    Chapter 12: Open-hourly method of point selection
    Methods based in branches – na zi fa
    Methods using stems – na jia fa
    Intergeneration of points
    Using the eight extra meridians
    PART THREE The inner core of acupuncture

    Chapter 13: The Chinese sky
    Huang Di
    The shape of the universe
    Divisions of the heavens
    Three enclosures
    Five palaces
    The 28 lunar mansions
    Four palaces of the cardinal directions
    Relationships with the stems and branches

    Chapter 14: Psychological profiles
    Element types
    Stems and the psyche
    Branches and the psyche
    Character and the six divisions
    Typing according to yin and yang
    Clinical applications

    Chapter 15: Numerology
    The Hetu/Yellow River map
    The Luoshu magic square
    Forbidden points
    Needle technique

    Chapter 16 Symbols
    Early Heaven arrangement of trigrams – Fu Xi
    Later Heaven arrangement of trigrams – King Wen
    Trigrams and the body
    Eight extra meridians and trigrams

    Appendix 1: Charts
    Appendix 2: Astronomy
    Appendix 3: Star maps



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