The Water Element in Chinese Medicine


There are five elements in Chinese Medicine: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Five element acupuncturists use this system to determine which element in a person requires most support. Working on that element helps to bring balance to the person. The Water Element in Chinese Medicine relates to Winter, to cold, to the colour blue/black, to groaning and to fear (Hicks et al, 2004). Water is the most yin of all elements. It takes the shape of it's container such as a reservoir or a river bed. The Bladder and Kidney meridians are related to the Water Element. The Spirit of the Kidneys is called the Zhi. It gives us the drive and motivation to get things done.

On a physical level the excess and deficiency of the Water Element can cause problems. This can be seen in floods and drought. Water controls Fire. A fireman will use water to put out a fire. The power of Water is storage. Animals store food so the can hibernate over Winter. On an emotional level the Water Element relates to fear. Our response to fearful stimuli is how it manifests. When the Water Element is in balance we can use our fear to avoid dangerous situations like predators, cliff edges and fire. Such a person should be able to respond positively to reassurance. A lack of fear may lead us to engage in extreme sports. An excess of fear may lead to agitation of the mind body and spirit.


Hicks, Hicks and Mole, 2004, Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture, Churchill Livingstone