What are Elements?

The idea of elements or body types can be seen in many different healing modalities across time. Aryuvedic medicine and its Dosha’s are one example, and the Chinese Five Elements are another. These ideas of body types came from thousands of years of observing the natural world and how our bodies interact with it. In Chinese Medicine elements have a lot to do with regions, temperatures, times of year and lifestyle. It was born out of ancient agricultural society and the philosophies of that society. In this system, our body is like the whole planet Earth, and each organ, system, and structure are the seasonal movements and rotation of that planet.

Five elements acupuncture works by observing the entirety of patients using the observable phenomena and reports the patient is presenting with. We want to see how the patient’s seasons are moving. Is the patient’s body having too long a summer? Or perhaps they have had too short a winter? This is the most simplistic metaphorical backdrop of how this theory operates.

All five elements (seasons) are always moving within us. Thus, this is not a tool for blatant categorization. Instead, the element is diagnosed because the two or three elements that people display the most are typically where they need the most support. The idea of off-centered elements is that a person can be deficient or have an excess of something. Each element carries with it different strengths and weaknesses (which are resolved by the support of the other seasons), as well as different gifts. We want to see all of the seasons of a patient’s body flow into one another with ease, and support each other as needed.

So… What are the Elements?

I will use the next five articles to explore each element in depth, but here is a look at what each one corresponds to and a little plant metaphor go alongside it!

Water (Winter) – Imagine a flower bulb under the dirt

Wood (spring) – The shoots begin to burst through the ground and growth occurs

Fire (Summer) – the flower has bloomed and is in its prime

Earth (Late summer) – Blooms begin to fade and seeds and fruits begin to fall

Metal (Autumn) – The plant dies, leaves fall, and the energy of that cycle retreats into the ground to nourish the seeds of winter.

Stay tuned to see what element you resonate the most with. Sometimes, the one we think we have the least of can be our strongest asset!