Those of us who have heard about Chinese medicine know that treatments usually include a few needles in acupuncture points and herb formulas that related to the patient’s symptoms.  Behind these needles and herbs lies deep philosophy based on thousands of years of observing Nature and acknowledging our symbiotic relationship with it, and its rules.

A basic component of this philosophy is Chinese Numerology. Numerology is any system, tradition, or belief in a mystical or esoteric relationship between numbers and physical objects or living things. The numbers usually range between 1 and 10 (16 for example can be 10+6 or 8+8 or even 1+6…). In this article I will talk about the numbers 1 through 5.

The numbers used in Chinese Numerology are considered to be a combination of time (as energy) and space (as energy), which are then translated into numbers:  what we call “QI” (chi-energy). It can be used in many different fields in our life. For example, we can use it to anticipate the timing of specific changes, good and bad, and to assist in interpreting one’s character and personality. We can determine these things by using the associated ideas which are attached to the numbers; ideas that are specific to Chinese Numerology, but one will find corresponding beliefs in other types of Numerology. The belief is that these numbers release a vibration into the universe and these vibrations are connected to everything and everyone. In Chinese Medicine it can help us choose the strategy to be used for treatment and by that, the number of acupuncture points and needles to be used.


The number 1 symbolizes the DAO.  In the West, the DAO translates as “the way” or the “supernatural way. It is whole, perfect, and complete.  It is the unity of the universe and the source of all other things and beings in the universe. It is the point within a circle that has no beginning and no end. It cannot be separated or divided. It is absolute and infinite. It cannot be grabbed in our senses or our mind. It is not part in the material world; it contains everything but has nothing; it has no concept of time, space, shape and motion. It is simply perfect and perfectly simple; its action remains as a pure potential. There is no absolute way to describe DAO, it is bigger than language and beyond our understanding. The nature of DAO is to be spontaneous, go with the flow and accept the changes because change is constant and cannot be stopped.


The number Two is the first division of the omnipresent One energy. It is the first separation; the duality of Yin and Yangbalance of two opposite forces, Light and Dark, Heat and Cold, Masculine and Feminine. We recognize the differences in opposites by comparing them against something else, against something that is unlike it. The human mind understands comparatives; what something is and what it is not, with clear lines separating one concept from another. Light has no meaning if we do not also understand darkness. This approach to understanding is the energy expressed in the nature of the number Two.

The division of DAO (1) into Yin and Yang (2) can be understood as the following:

The Yang relates to Heaven, the sky and to the Sun. It is a masculine power, corresponding with the right side of the body. Its season is summer and is present in the spirit, in light, in aggression and quick movement. Its correlating elevation is high.

The Yin relates to the Earth and to the Moon. It is feminine power and corresponds with the left side of the body. Its season is winter and is present in the material, in darkness, in passivity and slow movement.  Its correlating elevation is low.

They are opposite to each other but they also complete, contain and define each other. We cannot perceive what they are without also understanding what they are not.

The potential of Two can only be realized through action, the ability to change and the “great principle of change”. The One becomes Two, and with the formation of the Two the facility for interaction was produced, so that Two could become Three and matter could begin to appear.


The number Three represents the movement that has been created from the meeting of the two, the Yin and the Yang. This is QI- The Energy. This is an expression of the different levels of mass and density in the universe.  It marries the non-material One with the conceptual materiality of Two; it encompasses all which exists in the physical world. QI exists in the visible as well as in the non visible. QI is all and all is QI. Qi movement is what makes forms of life. There is movement in every object in the universe and when the movement stops, (imagine the moment that electrons will stop their movement around the atom), that will be the end of the world.

To compare further, Heaven is Yang and the Earth is Yin. Between the meeting of these two, QI manifests and creates Man. QI is the relationship between HEAVEN- MAN- EARTH; Man is between heaven and earth, and he is affected by them and their rules.

The “NAN JING”, “the inner cannon of the yellow emperor”- the main book of Chinese medicine said: “incubated by heaven and born by earth, the 10,000 things are complete, of these; the most precious is the man”. Man is an essential being that reflects the connection of heaven and earth. He is a microcosm of the macrocosms.


The Three also gives us the three dimensions: length, width and depth. From that the number Four is produced, in the form of the Four winds, North, South, East and West. It also gives us the Left, Right, Front and Back, and the Four seasons (“the alternating of yin and yang produces the Four seasons” “HUAINANZI” CHAPTER 7). All of the above represent the manifestation of the number Four’s qualities of QI.

Four also represents stability (like a 4 legged chair or table). This stability gives rise to and allows for productivity. Being able to be productive means to be able to change and transform.  Due to that the number Four is the number of earth. The stability of earth gives us the power to change and transform. It’s like a seed falling to the ground, being accepted by the earth that will provide it with a “home”, and which allows it to change, grow and become a sprout and then a tree.

This stability is the centre; Earth is in the centre. Everything is gathered to it and spreads from it. The Four winds, Four seasons, Four side and this understanding of the nature of Four gives rise to Five.


Five represents organization and  method revolving around a centre. This organization reflects every phenomenon in nature. Chinese philosophy calls it the Five Phases and are also known as the Five Elements. The Five Phases are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. These Five vibrations of QI are present in everything in the universe and through their relationships of nourishing, supporting and balancing , create the one, the whole and the complete.

Those are the basic meanings of the numbers 1,2,3,4 and 5.

By understanding the power in these numbers, we can decide what idea or what kind of vibration we want to bring to treatment and the way it will affect the person in front of us.

Needle Treatment

Treatment with One needle- To be able to treat using only one needle the practitioner has to be familiar with the deep meaning and energetic character of the acupuncture points. In addition he has to understand the soul and spirit of the patient. The purpose of a treatment using one needle is to reach the patient’s soul and spirit. It is a very strong exact and accurate treatment that should bring the patient back to his own way, bring him back to his DAO.

Treatment with Two needles- Two needles are usually used when we want to reach harmony. When the Yin and Yang are unbalanced and one is taking over the other’s place, many illnesses, diseases and painful feelings can occur. The practitioner’s role is to identify the imbalance and bring back the harmony of Yin and Yang. Treatment with Two needles will use the vibration of the power of Two and will balance and harmonize the patient.

Treatment with Three needles- Three is the number that symbolizes movement therefore the main use for treating with three needles will be to push and move the QI and the blood in a stagnated and blocked condition. The patient will usually suffer from acute or chronic pain, sometimes accompanied by infection or inflammation.

Treatment with Four needles- The use of Four needles will bring the QI of Earth. This treatment will bring stability and centralization in conditions of excess movement. This condition can harm the production of QI and blood which is the role of the Earth. Four needles will be used on deficient patients, after testing to see if their QI and blood is weak.  It can also be used on a frenetic patient or help with transformation on patient that cannot handle changes and cannot contain them (cannot contain what? Changes? Or their feelings?)

Treatment with Five needles- Five needles will usually be used on people that cannot see things through to the end. They begin with something but cannot complete the processes or project because they are often disorganized, emotionally and mentally; states that then manifest physically. The use of Five needles will cause a strong movement from the beginning to the end of the cycle.  (What cycle?) This is the QI of Five.

The art of Chinese medicine is very delicate, deep, and complicated. There are many things the practitioner has to consider before acting in the best interest of the patient. Numerology is one tool that a practitioner may employ to aid in the healing of a patient. Understanding the power that numbers hold and choosing to harness this power in our practice can assist us in providing a rich and healing experience for our patients.