What’s Your Element?

IMG_1652Traditional Chinese medicine philosophy is partly organized around the Five Elements – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. Each of these elements are associated with a particular organ and energy meridian in the body, and can be applied to all things in nature, including the human body and psyche. We are all always ebbing and flowing among these elements, but will usually resonate most with one of the following patterns. 

Fire / Heart Element – quick mind, “wears heart on sleeve,” outgoing, enthusiastic, excitable, expressive, empathetic, affectionate, optimistic, sensitive, impatient, sees the humorous side of life, easily shares innermost feelings, easily frustrated, prone to circulatory and heart problems, anxiety, insomniaSpirit Remedy: Ask yourself what brings you joy, and bring more of what brings you joy into your life. 

Earth / Spleen Element – sincere, easygoing, agreeable, accommodating, peacemaker, nurturing, loyal, diplomatic, conservative, methodical, prone to overthinking and worrying, digestive and intestinal issues, most content in company of other people but can be needy or too giving. Spirit Remedy: Do something by yourself to build self-sufficiency. Create clearer boundaries with people you habitually overextend for.

Metal / Lung Element – neat, orderly, self-contained, enjoys solving puzzles, likes procedures and organization, logical, systematic, meticulous, discriminating,intellectual, organized, prone to colds, allergies and asthma, hyper-rational, detail-oriented. Spirit Remedy: Do something creative to balance your hyper-rational tendencies.

Water / Kidney Element – cautious, sensible, enjoys solitude, curious, imaginative, intellectual, patient, persevering, self-sufficient, independent, reflective, will power, endurance, timid, susceptible to urinary and reproductive problems, low back pain. Spirit Remedy: Nurture social relations and plan activities with other people – your self-sufficiency can isolate you.

Wood / Liver Element – intense, type A, smart, decisive, prone to stubbornness, control freaks, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, high blood pressure, acid reflux. Spirit Remedy: Add non-competitive, relaxing activities to your routine, like meditation or hiking in nature.


Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold, New York: Ballantine, 1991.

Second Spring: Hundreds of Natural Secrets for Women to Revitalize and Regenerate At Any Age, by Maoshing Ni, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.

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