Energetically, we all have aspects of the five elements (fire, metal, earth, water, wood) in various combinations and intensity. In Chinese medicine, fire element is considered the most yang in nature. This translates in practical ways such as feeling lighter, more expansive, playful and sociable.

Notice how much easier it is to connect with other people in summer?

The effect of the sun brings out our ‘sunny’ nature. This could be as simple as smiling at someone on the street to wanting to be around friends or family in a fun and festive way. We have more energy, vitality, enthusiasm and warmth and when your fire is healthy, it’s only natural to share this with people.

Aligning with the Fire element for Maximum Health and Wellbeing

As the weather warms up, your exercise program will naturally start to include more yang energy (think cardio) running, cycling, swimming, sailing, rollerblading etc. Your muscles will be warm so less stretching is required – less yoga, less tai chi and less meditation. It’s time to get active and be involved!

Too Much Fire

There are many fantastic things about summer, but as we face another summer of heightened bushfire threat, Australians are all too aware of the extremes of the fire element. Even though our bodies can cope with later nights, drinking more and overindulgence of foods, we have to be mindful of problems related to excessive heat build-up in our body. Signs and symptoms to look out for may include insomnia, persistent headaches, excessive emotional states, red face and eyes, reflux, and vertigo. Just as we need to keep our gardens shaded and watered, our bodies also need to be protected from the excesses of heat through adequate hydration and appropriate dietary considerations. Beware of extremes: a healthy person is a balanced one.


The element Water is represented by the Kidney and Bladder Zang fu, the Kidney is considered to be like the body’s trust fund and is very hard to nourish and keep balanced.  Of the three sources of Qi production in the body (Lungs, Spleen and Kidney), our Kidney energy is strongly influenced by the constitution of our parents and is meant to support us throughout our lifetime.  The Kidneys depend on the healthy production of Lung and Spleen Qi to prevent premature depletion, therefore attention to the breath and proper nutrition are essential.  Our lifestyle also has an enormous impact on our Kidney Qi, and Winter is definitely the time to be conservative. With shorter days and longer nights, it is more conducive to spend nights at home, nourishing the body and soul with warm food and meditative practices. This builds the physical reserves in preparation for spring.  - Listen to your body

The time for the bladder is 3 to 5pm, and kidney is 5 to 7.  Many people who have an imbalance in these organs will either have increased energy at this time or feel extremely tired.  The lowest time of the bladder is 3 to 5 am and those that are weak in the water element, will often wake to urinate at this time.

The Emotions of Water

The emotion associated with water is fear.  It is the most hidden and ranges from agitation to paralysis.  Continual agitation can result in sudden bursts of activity and energy depleting the adrenal glands and leading to exhaustion.  When people feel agitated they find it difficult to sit still and this affects their ability to concentrate.  At the other end of the spectrum people can become paralysed when afraid.  On the surface they may pretend that everything is alright and appear calm but internally the ability to respond is frozen and they have difficulty in knowing how to respond in certain situations.  This can create an inability to make changes.  People may consider fear to be a weakness but it is essential to our existence and drives us forward towards a higher standard of health and lifestyle.  Without fear there is no excitement or sense of adventure.

The Sense Organs of Water

The sense organs of the water are the ears.  Notice how the ear is shaped like a kidney.  Strong water element means strong bones and teeth and less likelihood of osteoporosis.  Head hair problems can indicate a kidney problem and can be benefitted with kidney nourishing foods or with Chinese herbs.  Feel free to discuss with Mychelle.  Salty is the taste so if you’re craving salt, your kidneys are out of balance.  Add seaweed into the diet to temper the salt cravings.  Salt (not table salt) has a yin cooling effect, moves energy downwards, moistens dryness and softens lumps.  It can detoxify the body and purge the bowels.  It is good for a sore throat so is useful to gargle.  Use more so in winter than summer.

Because of the time of year it is easy for cold to come into the body and contract our muscles and reduce blood circulation, possibly leading to more aching joints and arthritis. This is the time of year one benefits most from keeping up a good stretching routine, yoga at the end of the day, even 10 cycles of solute to the sun morning and night can warm up the body.

As the Kidneys rule the lower part of the body, from the waist down, it is extremely important to keep your feet warm to conserve energy.  Try a foot soak with Epsom salts and essential oil to warm the body; these are available from Utopia Health Care.

Food eaten in winter should be warming and nutritious, like slow cooked stews, casseroles and soups. Legumes and pulses, especially black beans, also know as turtle beans are warming in nature sweet, benefits the Kidneys and builds the Yin, fluid and blood., can help with lower back pain, knee pain and infertility)*, are considered excellent in building Yin for this time of year.  At this point, it is important to expand on what is meant by warming.  Many people consider chilli to be a warming food and while this may be true in the short term, it actually causes the pores to open, induces a sweat thereby allowing the heat to escape.   More appropriate spices would be cinnamon, ginger, anise, and cloves.


Earth Element

Humans stand between Heaven and Earth, so our heads can take in the knowledge and energy of the heavens and our feet on the earth, so we can take in the energy of the earth grounding and stabilising us.

The element Earth is represented by the spleen and stomach. These 2 organs are best understood to do the transportation and transformation of all that goes into your mouth and mind. The hour of the stomach is 7am – 9am and the spleen 9 am – 11 am.

This is known as the harvest time of the year, so a time to gather and prepare to store the grains and fruits that have been produced over the summer. If the Earth element is struggling to transform food, a person may feel tired and suffer many physical symptoms, such as poor concentration – the ability to remember things (short term).

Yellow is the colour of the Earth element; it is associated with the soil. The sound is singing, so an earth type person will have a sing song sound in their speech, they have a fragrant smell and when out of balance may feel nausea when around pungent aromas.


When the Earth element is imbalanced, we may worry or have excessive mental agitation, lack of concentration or memory loss. We may feel needy, compulsive toward food or attention, seeking sympathy or entertainment. Indicators of imbalance in Earth include exhaustion, loss of appetite, poor digestion or loose stools and diarrhea, easy bruising, excess menstrual flow or other bleeding disorders.

Sense organ of Earth

The Earth organs ie Stomach and Spleen are responsible for the building and maintenance of the whole body. The organ tissues associated with the Earth are muscle, fat, and connective tissue. The Spleen helps generate blood, keeps it in the vessels, and generates white blood cells in bone marrow, which supports the immune system.

Spleen transforms nutrients and transports moisture; it controls the lymphatic system.  Swollen legs, edema, poor lymphatic drainage, fatty tumors, and obesity all relate to poor transportation and transformation functions of the Spleen. The quality and function of your muscles and skin tone/flesh depend on the energy of the Earth element. If you have poor muscle tissue, this can indicate that the Earth element is weak. Cellulite is another reflection on how well the transformation and transportation of the Earth/ digestive system is working. If one wants to improve the lymphatic system and general circulation, try massage and dry skin brushing.

The mouth and taste sensory are associated with this element also. So if your sense of taste is not so keen, you may also experience difficulties with your digestion. The shape and colour of your lips are a reflection of how well your earth element is doing as well. The taste associated with Earth is sweet – not sugar or chocolate – a more subtle flavour, think of rice, carrot, chicken, sweet potato and pumpkin incorporate these foods in a healthy balanced diet, one doesn’t really have cravings for chocolate. Developing a balanced food intake is one of the most important methods to maintain a balanced Earth element.

A diet low in fat, high in whole grains, vegetables and fruits is easiest for the body to transform. Meat sources should be good quality, with small portions so as not to generate Phlegm. Taking time to eat, in a tranquil non-stressed way avoids ulcers, and digestive problems.

One of the quickest ways to rebuild Stomach and Spleen Qi is to do some of the work for your stomach. Soups and stews are kinder on your digestion than raw cold foods. It takes less digestive fire to eat soup than salad.


Wood Element

Waking early and being at your most creative in this phase of the day, means the wood aspect of you is healthy and your energy balanced. If you are the type of person that has difficulty waking up or getting motivated in the morning, Wood could be stressed and in need of some support. How is your appetite in the morning? Try starting the day with hot water and lemon to start cleansing the body, stretching before breakfast and get the body in motion.

The wood element governs muscles and tendons, which bring grace and flexibility, so if one is suffering from muscle, knee and elbow issues this may indicate poor wood circulation. Having a Massage is a great way to improve circulation.

Wood reflects beginnings, birth and Spring. It is a bursting forth of new ideas, new vitality and new beginnings. Wood Qi is spontaneity, flexibility and activity. Wood is strong and flexible like bamboo, and associated with warmth, generosity and co-operation. Wood can be wide and outgoing, always seeking to grow and expand.Emotions of Wood

Emotions of Wood

Anger is the emotion related to Wood. When all is in balance, a person can move forward with plans, even when there are bumps in the road they will have the ability to deal with changes. When out of balance, anger results from being thwarted in planning and execution. This Anger can become the primary emotion, with a person interpreting that his way, the right way, is blocked. Shout is the sound associated with Wood, this can be heard in the tone of someone’s speech and not necessarily in anger, try listen to friends when in conversation to guess their element type... If one has rested and stored their energy in the winter, one will have the strength to move forward with new plans and projects in the spring. As with plants bursting through the ground and growing up toward the sunlight, we will also feel the urge to be outside as the weather warms up, to garden or build or begin new activities.Wood Element


The Metal Element

The strength of the lungs will indicate the body’s own effective immune system, also known as wei qi or protective qi. This protects the skin, nose and mouth from external attack by viruses, cold and germs. These external attacks can often be led by wind. So if the wei qi is not strong one can get every cold and virus going around, and the cold may last longer, so this is a perfect time of year to boost the wei qi or the lung energy, to protect from colds and flu, the common pathologies that are around at this time of year.

The Emotions of Metal

This corresponds to the emotion of grief, sadness and loss; the Lungs and the Large Intestine are where this emotion is expressed inside the body. A secondary aspect of grief is loneliness, which is often a deliberate act of isolation to process traumatic information.

Lungs that are strong make an individual effective in how they go about their tasks and help maintain their purpose in life. The Large Intestine lets go of what is no longer necessary.

When the Metal Element is out of balance, a person will create a barrier of emotional protection, to discourage others from physical or emotional contact. They can cut themselves off from others and can often appear as being aloof. 

The Metal Element within the healthy individual is expressed through a person’s radiance and their ability to inspire others.  This person has a healthy self esteem, recognising their own intrinsic value, and is able to honour their commitments. This balance promotes the ability to experience sadness and let go. The beauty of metal lies in its ability to change; think of the many and varied roles you have in your own life.

Breathing Exercise – mindful breathing connects you to the present moment. Allow yourself to sit comfortably, place your hands lightly on your lower rib cage and belly so that fingertips lightly touch.  Breathe so that your fingertips move slightly away from each other. This encourages deep breathing and exercises your diaphragm.  Breath for 10 counts (inbreath + outbreath = 1 count).  If you get distracted, start again. Try this whenever you are stressed.