The Five Elements
In Chinese medicine, the theory of the Five Elements sees the world in dynamic states or phases of constant change. Classical Five-Element Acupuncture uses the laws of nature to bring the body, mind and spirit into balance and harmony. The five elements are: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood.
Each of the five elements are associated with 12 meridians which correspond to ten organs and two functions in the body. Earth corresponds to the stomach and spleen, Metal to the colon and lungs, Fire to the heart, small intestine (and two functions, circulation/sex (heart protector) and triple heater (temperature regulator), Water to the bladder and kidneys, Wood to the gallbladder and liver. Each organ has a specific season that can weaken it or strengthen it. When something in the body, mind or spirit is out of balance, it is more susceptible to illness as the seasons change.
The season of Fire (summer) is a time of luxurious growth. Everything is in bloom and begins to bear fruit and comes alive. Fire gives us warmth and love and a passion for life. The heart is responsible for order and control of all the other organs. The small intestine assimilates and separates the pure from the impure of the nourishment we take in. Circulation/sex protects the hear t and regulates blood flow and sexual secretions. The triple heater is the temperature regulator of the body. When the Fire element is out of balance, there are symptoms such as a lack of joy, love or warmth, confusion and panic, heart problems, poor circulation, numbness or tingling in the limbs, hot or cold flashes, arthritis, shoulder and elbow problems.
The season of Earth (late summer) is the time of harvest the abundance of summer. The days of summer are getting shorter and cooler and there is a hint of fall in the air. Earth is the provider and mother that feeds and sustains us. It gives us stability , balance and groundedness. The stomach receives nourishment and prepares it for digestion. The spleen stores the blood. When the Earth element is imbalanced, there can be symptoms of needing sympathy, obsessive thoughts, worry, self-doubt, ulcers, indigestion, muscle pain and tenderness, poor or excessive appetite, and menstrual irregularities.
The season of Metal (autumn) is a time of harvesting for the winter. The leaves begin to fall back to the earth from where they came. It represents the minerals and salt of the earth.This is a time of change, transition and sometimes nostalgia and letting go of the past. Metal gives us our sense of quality and value. It is involved with the intake of life-giving energies and the discharge of toxins. The lungs are the receiver of the chi from the heavens, breathing in the air. The colon gets rid of toxins and waste. When Metal is out of balance there are symptoms of excess grief or sorrow, diarrhea or constipation, skin problems and asthma.
The season of Water (winter) is a time of rest, withdrawal and hibernation. It is a time of stillness and quiet and conservation of energy. The trees are bare and the days are short. It gives us determination and willpower. The kidneys filter the blood and keep the body clean and in balance. The bladder is responsible for eliminating the excess of water and waste filtered through the kidneys and storing our water reserves. When Water is out of balance, there are symptoms such as phobias or fear, urinary problems, high blood pressure, brittle joints, dry skin, backache, problems with perspiration, ear problems.
The season of Wood (spring) is a time of birth and growth, vision and hope for the future. It is the greening season when flowers bloom, a time for planting seeds and new beginnings. Wood is seen in a tree growing upward to the sky and growing deep roots in the earth. The liver stores the blood, filters its toxins and promotes the free flow of chi in the body. The gallbladder stores and empties the bile. When Wood is out of balance we experience symptoms of frustration, anger, vertigo, ligament and tendon problems, dry brittle nails, migraines and eye problems.