The Five Yin Elements of Chinese Medicine

In Five Element Theory the elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Understanding some basic foundational information can bring awareness to the process of illness and preserving one’s health.

Let’s begin with the yin organs.

Wood is represented by the season of spring and the liver. It has an aversion to wind. It is associated with the free flow of energy and emotions and is prone to anger and irritability. Wood is concerned with stress and over-activity that can lead to injuries, dryness and deficiency of blood which further leads to insomnia, anemia, depression, various digestive disturbances and weak tendons. Healthy wood personalities are great at starting projects.

Fire represents the season of summer and the heart. It has an aversion to heat and is associated with blood circulation and joy. Imbalances frequently manifest in palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, memory problems, fatigue, cold hands and dizziness. As the heart personality is emotionally engaging and prone to joy, it can burn itself out with too many social activities and obligations. Healthy fire personalities are inspirational and great at networking.

Earth represents the season of Indian summer and the spleen. It has an aversion to dampness and cold and is associated with worry, keeping the blood in the vessels, and digestion. Imbalances often manifest in fatigue, abdominal bloating, and heavy sensation in the limbs, easy bruising, excess mucus and excessive menstrual bleeding. Emotionally, weakness can lead to anxiety and depression with a lethargic quality. Healthy earth personalities bring people together through nurturing and a sense of stability.

Metal represents the season of autumn and the Lungs. They have an aversion to dryness and are associated with sorrow and the breath. Imbalances commonly manifest in shortness of breath, asthma, cough, compromised immune systems and allergies. Emotionally, lung personalities tend to harbor resentments due to their inappropriate resolution of loss and subsequent grief. Healthy metal personalities have exceptional mental clarity and analytical capacity.

Water is represented by the season of winter and the kidneys which have an aversion to cold and dampness that is far more pronounced than that of the spleen. The kidneys are associated with fear and are considered to be the ocean of the human body for their fluid distribution in the entire body. The kidneys are connected to the adrenals, the spine, the brain, marrow and carry the deepest sense of willpower in the human spirit. Imbalances in the Kidneys can lead to many manifestations of poor health such as extreme fatigue, urinary leakage, bone and teeth problems, chronic soreness in the low back and knees, bedwetting in children, severe insomnia and fertility issues. Healthy water personalities are humanitarian and higher-minded in their motives.

It is important to remember that seasonal and life transitions are opportunistic and that care should be taken to nourish one’s physical and emotional health prior to and during the seasons and organ systems that might be most problematic for us.

Anita Alexandra, L.Ac., CH is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with 16+ years of experience. She practices at Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture, 619 Main Street, Frisco. (970)668-3299 

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