Amanda Cox | Acupuncture Melbourne

Five Elements

The Five Elements & Seasonal Energy Flow

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the energy meridians within the body are all associated with a different Element. There are Five Elements within us all – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each of these Elements is connected with an organ, a season, and an emotion. An energetic imbalance in one of these Elements may mean that you are predisposed to certain health problems, or a heightened emotion. Health problems may be exacerbated at certain times of the year as our body’s energy flow will rise and fall according to the season.


The Wood Element
When spring arrives, everything wakes up - bulbs sprout and flower, trees bud and grow. Our energy too increases, and suddenly we feel more in touch with our bodies. It is not hard then to make the connection between spring and the Wood Element.

The energy of the Wood Element is growing, expanding, and forward moving. Our Wood energy enables us to make decisions with clarity and foresight, and to move through life assertively. In our bodies our Wood Element circulates along the energy meridians associated with the Liver and Gallbladder. These channels are closely associated with the circulation of blood and energy throughout the body, our mobility and vision.

If the energy in the Liver and Gallbladder channels is flowing smoothly our health will be in balance, however, these channels are easily prone to excess or deficient energy. If the flow of energy is too strong we may suffer from a number of conditions including hypertension, headaches, mood swings, muscular cramps, vertigo, constipation, breast distension or tendon injuries. If the flow is too low we may find that we are unable to make decisions, or suffer from itchy eyes, blurry vision, hypoglycaemia, brittle nails, neck and shoulder tension, PMT or IBS.

As you can see from the wide list of conditions associated with the Wood Element, it is integral to our health, and essential that we keep balance in the associated channels. Acupuncture can smooth the flow of energy in this important Element.


The Fire Element

Summer brings us long days and warm weather; unsurprisingly it holds for us happy associations. Our energy tends to rise at this time of year, as the associated Chinese Medicine Element of Fire becomes predominant.

The energy of the Fire Element is hot, joyous, and exciting. It circulates throughout our body via the Heart meridian. The balance of our Fire energy is delicate, and it is prone to either excess energy or a lack of energy. As the Fire energy is connected to the Heart it is easily affected by stress or emotional upset.

If the energy in our Heart meridian is in excess we may feel anxious, agitated or panicky. Physically this could lead to palpitations, sweating, tightness of the chest, or a flushed face. Excessive energy in the Heart meridian can also cause insomnia, dream disturbed sleep, or sleep walking or talking. If the energy in this meridian becomes depleted we may experience dizzy spells, low blood pressure, anaemia, or exhaustion. Emotionally a lack of Fire energy may lead to depression or lack of libido.


The Earth Element

The Earth Element is associated with late summer - it is also our centre and the Element that grounds us. The Chinese meridians associated with our Earth Element are the Stomach and Spleen.

As our central energy, the Earth meridians are integral in supporting and nourishing us. The Earth Element is closely associated with food and our attitude towards it. If our Earth energy is weak we may find ourselves feeling bloated or exhausted after food, or lacking appetite. Imbalance in the Earth channels may result in eating disorders, or food cravings (especially for sweet foods). The transformation of food into energy is also managed by our Earth meridians. If our Earth is out of balance we will not be able to transform food and drink into useable energy – and may feel heavy and fuzzy as a result.

Our Earth Element is closely associated with the emotion of worry or pensiveness. Many people notice that when they are worrying excessively they will either lack appetite, or comfort eat.

Acupuncture is especially useful in harmonising this Element - combating gastro-intestinal disorders, and improving digestion.


The Metal Element

As we move into Autumn we see signs in the world around us of things closing down and drawing in. The trees let go of their leaves; the days become shorter; the flowers finish budding. However, it is not only in the nature surrounding us that changes occur at this time of year - the energy within our bodies also changes.

Autumn is associated with the Metal Element and the Lung and Large Intestine meridians. The characteristics of the Metal Element are drawing in and letting go. Autumn is a time to put behind us what is unnecessary, and to take stock and reflect, as we adjust our energy to the decreasing days and prepare for the winter ahead. This can be a difficult time for us to adjust our energy – we often feel sad that the full energy of summer is behind us. Our energy levels decrease suddenly, and we can feel out of sorts, and down. Indeed, by tradition, Chinese Medicine associates the Metal Element with the emotion of sadness and the sound of crying.

The beauty of Chinese Medicine is that it not only harmonises the energy within the body, but it also matches it to the natural energy flow of the seasons. In autumn acupuncture can be used to boost the Metal Element – steering us away from seasonal depression and helping us to move on. At the same time, by boosting the Metal Element, acupuncture can tonify the energy of the Lungs – thus preventing the colds and flus that often afflict us at this time of year. The Lungs protect us against external invasion from the weather and toxins around us, they also safeguard our internal resources. In autumn the Lungs can often become congested and require a little help from Chinese Medicine to allow them to do their job properly.

By working on the physical and emotional levels at the same time, acupuncture can give you a lift at this time of year, and protect your health for the cold winter ahead.


The Water Element

The season of winter corresponds to the Water Element. Water is essential to all life: seeds lie buried in the ground in winter, being nourished by water in preparation for their rebirth in spring. Our Water Element controls our body’s growth and reproduction. It represents our Kidney and Bladder meridian energy, and is influenced by cold.

If our Water Element is out of balance it can lead to urinary problems and pain (particularly in the lower back and knees). Increased frequency of urination, urinary tract infections, and feelings of cold can all be the result of a weak Water Element. It is common for these symptoms to increase during the winter when our Water is most vulnerable. If the energy (or Qi) in these Meridians is low, we may also suffer from fertility problems, as the Kidney Meridian controls our ability to conceive. Another common sign of imbalance in this Element can be a craving for salty food.

On an emotional level the Water Element is linked with fear and willpower. If our Water Element is depleted we can suffer from feelings of fear and phobias. These emotions can increase at this time of year freezing our Water and debilitating us emotionally. When our Water is strong it will flow, driving us and giving us the willpower to succeed and achieve what we wish to.

Traditional Chinese Medicine can rebalance our Water energy, warm us and rid us of depression and fears at this cold time of year. Through acupuncture it is possible to harmonise your energy and give you the added boost to see the winter through with a smile on your face.

The Five Elements Working Together

An energetic disharmony in any one of these Elements will in time lead to a problem in another Element, as they all work together to keep us in good health. Traditional Chinese Medicine works by keeping all of the Elements flowing as they should and thus maintaining physical and emotional health.