Five Element Acupuncture

The Water Element in Chinese Medicine

Reservoir

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.

References

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

The Fire Element in Chinese Medicine

 Fire

Fire

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 Fire Element in Chinese Medicine relates to Summer, to heat, to the colour red, to laughing and to joy. The Sun is the Fire Element in nature. The following meridians are all related to the Fire Element: Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium and Triple Burner.  The Spirit of the Heart is called the Shen. The Shen can be seen in the sparkle in a persons eyes.

On a physical level the Fire Element relates to a persons sensitivity to hot and cold. On an emotional level it relates to joy. Communication with others is how it manifests. When the Fire Element is in balance we can communicate freely and effectively with others. We will laugh and smile at appropriate moments. We will be able to recall pleasurable moments. When Fire is in excess we may become over exuberant,we may laugh at inappropriate moments.  Manic behaviour can harm the Fire Element. When the Fire Element is deficient we may be discouraged from human contact. We may not be able to join in the joy of a group and may feel isolated. When Fire is deficient people may display joy but it will lack warmth and not feel genuine. Lack of human contact can be detrimental to the Fire Element.

References

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

The Wood Element in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine Spring is related to the Wood element. The nature of Wood is expansive. It pushes upwards and outwards. You can imagine seeds growing upwards out of the ground towards the light and warmth. The Wood Element encompasses all forms of vegetation from grasses and flowers to trees. The Power of Wood is birth. Spring time is also lambing time. Many animals give birth to their young in Spring time. The Wood element relates to the Liver and Gall Bladder. In terms of Chinese Medicine the Liver is the General that makes the plans and the Gall Bladder is the decision maker. The spirit of the Liver is the Hun. This represents the spiritual aspect of the Liver Meridian. It is involved with thinking, sleeping and consciousness. It is easily upset by drugs and alcohol. When a person uses "astral travel" it is their Hun that leaves their body.

 The Wood Element   

The Wood Element

 

References

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

Winter

 Blencathra in Winter

Blencathra in Winter

Winter

In Chinese Medicine Winter is the season relating to the Water element and the Kidneys. Winter is the time of year where everything slows down. Water freezes and becomes ice. The stillness of ice represents this season. Animals hibernate and seeds lay dormant.  In Winter we are advised to go to bed early and slow down our activity to preserve our resources.

 Chinese Character for Water

Chinese Character for Water

Diet

In terms of diet Winter is a good time for salty and bitter foods which aid the bodies capacity for storage. Examples of bitter foods are oats, rye, carrot top and quinoa. Seaweed, millet and barley are salty foods. It is advisable to avoid salads at this time of year as they are cooling in nature.

References

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

 

 

 

The Metal Element

In Chinese Medicine the character for Metal (Jin) 金represents something precious deep in the earth. It includes the character for Earth (see below). The Metal character has a sloping roof on top, representing something covered over. You could imagine it as a mine with nuggets of gold buried deep within the earth. Metal can be thought of like minerals in the body. Small but essential. In the body the Metal Element consists of the Lungs and Large Intestine. The Lungs take in air. In Chinese Medicine they take in the Qi from the Heavens. The Large Intestine lets go of waste material. On a more emotional level it's important to be able to freely accept gifts and compliments. To appreciate beauty in the world. It's also important to let go of things we no longer need. The Dhammapada (sayings of the Buddha) states "For see how the Jasmine flower releases and lets fall its withered flowers." So we must release the parts of us that no longer serve us rather than clinging to them.

Recently I had the chance to go potholing with Lancashire Walking Group. We hiked up towards Ingleborough. Gaping Gill is part way up the hill. It is a huge cave with the longest unbroken waterfall in the country. You had to be winched down into it. It was really impressive. I have also recently visited Poole Caver in Buxton. It made me appreciate the nature of the Metal element.

Gaping Gill
 Gaping Gill

Gaping Gill

 Character for Metal   

Character for Metal

 

References

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