Metal/Water Treatments

‘There’s a fire in the channels – call the Fire Engine’ – The use of Metal/Water Treatments


5/15/20242 min read

One of the most powerful treatments, with amazing effects, used in Kiiko Matsumoto style Japanese acupuncture is called the Metal/Water Treatment. This, like many acupuncture treatments, is based on a very simple ancient principle, yet is extremely effective.

At the start of a patient’s treatment, the ‘Fire’ points of each major channel are pressed (with a force of 3 Kilogram), and the patient is asked if they feel any discomfort at the ‘Fire’ point. Since many patients are unfamiliar with the sensations in their own bodies, we often ask them to compare what it feels like between the left and right side, which usually elicits a response like ‘the right feels worse than the left’. Often the practitioner can feel a difference in the texture or area of the fire point, even if the patient can’t feel anything.

What does a sore ‘Fire’ point indicate, well, as the ancient texts said, a sore ‘Fire’ point means there is fire or heat in that channel somewhere. Perhaps in modern terminology we might use the word ‘inflammation’ instead of fire. So the obvious question is ‘how do we put that fire out’, and the simple answer is ‘with water of course’. Hence we treat the ‘Water’ point on the same channel, and to ensure that there is enough Water in the tank to put the fire out, we treat the ‘mother’ of ‘Water’, which is ‘Metal’ as shown in the 5-element table below.

In practice, we press the sore ‘Fire’ point with one hand and massage the ‘Water’ then ‘Metal’ points and get patient feedback as to whether the sensation at the ‘Fire’ point is reduced. Often massaging one point of the Metal/Water pair will be sufficient to clear the ‘Fire’ point pain, but both points are used if there is any residual pain. A needle is then inserted at the same angle and depth of the massaging finger and the ‘Fire’ reflex is checked again to check it is clear.

This clearing of ‘Fire’ points is often done before further diagnostic palpation of the patient, as it can expose the other significant reflexes rather than masking them. For many patients just this simple clearing of the ‘Fire’ points can have profound and immediate effects on their presenting symptoms.

I believe that this ‘Metal/Water’ treatment is a characteristic of 5-element styles, but although I trained in Chinese acupuncture at two different colleges in the UK, I never heard about or saw this treatment being used, before beginning my studies in Kiiko Matsumoto Style Japanese acupuncture and watching Kiiko use it on patients with such amazing results.