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The Five Elements of Constitutional Acupuncture

The Five Elements in You

How does your personality and Acupuncture affect your wellbeing?

The Five Elements

Discover Your Element!

Personality and Acupuncture

The core of your personality affects how you interact with the world around you, how you assess each situation in daily life. The Five Element system helps you understand and encourages you to embrace who you are.

The Five Element system has been practiced for thousands of years originating in China and Japan and is the method used for Traditional Five Element Acupuncture.

The five different elements are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood.  Each element has certain properties which align with a different personality; your Causative Factor or Guardian Element. We are made up of all the Five Elements which have to work together creating the system of  Body, Mind and Spirit functions to Flow, Control and Feed.

We all have a dominant Element known as the Guardian Element, with two other inner Elements that we can relate to.  For example, you could be mostly a Wood Element with Fire and Metal element tendencies.

The role of Guardian Element, our primary element is to protect and treat but it also enables all of the Five Elements to work together with the result that our Body, Mind and Spirit flourish.

Each Element is tempered by the others. None exists alone and its action is always modified and enhanced by the element surrounding it. Good health is where an Element is given the space to unfold as it needs to, while being supported by and supporting other elements. Poor health is the result of Elements not working together.

Traditional Five Element Acupuncture identifies your Guardian Element, your inner Elements to treat and re-balance your Body, Mind and Spirit.

I regularly write articles relating to specific Elements in my Blog. These can provide insight into the healing process relating to Acupuncture and the connection with health and wellbeing.

Read On . . . then answer the questions at the bottom of the page

The FIRE Element has the Capacity to - give and receive love and security

The season of the Fire Element is Summer, the most Yang season an expansive time of year, nature is maturing.

The Fire element person often craves the summertime, warmth, light and summertime people are out and talk more time for pleasure and joy

The Sun is the Fire Element in Nature. Burning and providing heat and light for all that exists on earth. Too much or too little heat can be calamitous to all on the earth and internal wellbeing, the balance of temperature is vital. Human contact, sharing, communicating, loving and caring, generates, maintains and nourishers the Fire within us.

The Fire element manifests itself as hot and cold. On a physical level the inner temperature is a crucial function. A Fire Element person can be emotionally hot and cold.

The fire energy is upward and expanding, a strong dynamic yang energy which can be restless and highly creative.

Emotionally the Fire Element manifests in being joyful, laughter being the sound. To be with others, sharing, communicating, love and human contact nourishes the Fire element. Diminished Fire can discourage people from reaching out to others. Loneliness and lack of light can be debilitating for the Fire Element.

A Fire element can be both too open, making them vulnerable or very closed off, with possibility of deep depression.

  1. Happiness and Emotional Volatility
  2. Closeness and Intimacy
  3. Love and Warmth
  4. Clarity and Confusion
  5. Control or Helplessness
  1. Compulsively Cheerful – Miserable
  2. Open and overly Sociable – Closed and Isolated
  3. Clowning – Earnest
  4. Vunerable – Over Protected
  5. Volatile – Flat
  1. Cheerful
  2. Sociable
  3. Loving
  4. Warmth
  5. Clarity
  6. Emotionally balanced
  7. Easily relate to others
  8. Life and Soul of the party

When Fire element is not balanced, either too weak or excessive, problems in these areas might occur.

    1. Heart
    2. Small intestines
    3. Blood pressure
    4. Blood
    5. Eyes
    6. Throat

The Five Element has four organs or functions. These are the Heart, the Pericardium (or Heart Protector), Small Intestine, and ‘Triple Heater’.

The Heart, ‘The Supreme Controller ‘ is the most important organ and function so needs extra protection, this is the responibilty of the Pericardium or Heart Protector.

If the Heart is out of balance, a person often feels sad or broken-hearted or they may become overexcited. They may feel out of control of themselves and their environment.

Heart blockages or weakness can manifest physically as problems with high or low blood pressure, angina, headaches, fevers, problems with speech, throat or the tongue.

Small Intestine unbalance can cause difficulty in recognising priorities, as the Small intestine sorts the pure from the impure on a level of body, mind and spirit.

The Pericardium the Heart Protector, the guardian of the heart. Physically the Pericardium surrounds the heart protecting this most important organ. Emotionally and Spiritually it protects the emotions and harm attacking the Heart.

The Triple Heater is the official of balance and harmony. This functions with the heating system within the Body, Mind and Spirit. There are three areas of the torso that help with diagnosis, these in balance.  Often there is differences of heat distribution in this area and all around the body showing that the Triple Heater needs attention.

  1. Time of day: 11am–3pm and 7pm–11pm
  2. Time of year: Summer (June, July, August)
  3. Power: Maturity
  4. Climate: Heat
  5. Colour: Red
  6. Sound: Laugh
  7. Emotion: Joy
  8. Smell: Scorched
  9. Direction: South
  10. Attitude: Outgoing, Warm, Expressive, Social, Loving
  11. Organs/Functions: Heart, Small Intestines, Heart Protector, Triple Heater
  12. Taste: Bitter
  13. Sense Organs: Tongue
  14. Controls: Arteries
  15. Generates: Hair
  16. Spirit: Shen – Human consciousness
fire element


earth element


The EARTH Element has the Capacity to - give and receive support and nurturing

The Earth element is often compared to a mother. It signifies our ability to grow and be independent.

Humans stand between Heaven and Earth, our head in the heavens to receive heavenly Qi and our feet on the Earth so we can be grounded, stable and centred. The Season of the Earth element is Late summer the power of harvest, nourishment and understanding.

The organs of Earth Stomach and Spleen transform and transport our nourishment to make Qi, ‘you are what you eat’. If the Earth Element struggles to nourish people may feel tired and suffer from heaviness and dampness.

Earth is Mother caring supporting, nourishing, nurturing,  gives sympathy, and stability. Bring projects to life, finding roots and equilibrium.

An Earth person can sympathetic, loving, caring,  supporting, giving nourishment, security and mothering. This can be balanced and appropriate, but can become smothering and overpowering. Earth Elements can forget to care for themselves and become exhausted and burnt out and overwhelmed. An Earth can become angry they feel unsupported and overwhelmed.

An Earth Element person can suffer from chronic feelings of dissatisfaction, worry and anxiety which can go around and around affecting sleep. An Earth Element person may become self-centred not able to see others needs beyond their own. They may feel unsafe and unstable. When earth is weakened, they may struggle to find their equilibrium, but when in balance they recover well.

A healthy relationship with a Mother figure helps in early life creating internal security to become an independent adult. This is an important factor for an Earth Element, enabling a person to put down their own roots independently.

  1. Rejecting caring for others
  2. Not centred or unstable
  3. Needing care from others
  1. Feeling Supported
  2. Getting Nourished
  3. Being Centred and Stable
  4. Mental Clarity
  5. Being Understood
  1. Smothering or Mothering – Not supporting
  2. Feeling Needy – Repressing Needs
  3. Excessive Independence – Dependency
  4. Uncentred and Dispersed – Heavy or Stuck
  5. Over-dependant on security of the Home – Inability to Put Down Roots
  6. Overthinking, Worry-Sympathy
  1. Feeling Centred and Stable
  2. Having Mental Clarity
  3. Being Understood
  4. Being Supported
  5. Getting Nourishment on levels of Body, Mind and Spirit
  6. Give and receive Emotional Support and Nurturing
  7. Able to give Support and Nourishment to others and to distinguish when it is appropriate to look after own needs and when to care for the needs of other people
  1. Stomach or abdomen-related problems
  2. Digestive systems
  3. Cells and flesh
  4. Muscles


Spleen and Stomach organs are connected with the element of earth. When the Spleen is out of balance, the person can be very anxious, worrisome and pensive.

When someone has Spleen blockages and or weakness, they can get problems with mouth, muscle and dampness. This is due to lack of transformation of fluids through digestion. They can experience heaviness and slowness both emotionally and physically.

The Stomach function is to rot and ripen in order to digest physical, mental and spiritual nourishment. Emotional factors can cause digestive problems and lead to comfort eating attempting to fill your centre.

An Earth Element can suffer from tiredness due to not absorbing nourishment on all levels. Earth needs to be understood and to understand.

  1. Time of day: 7am -11am
  2. Time of year: Late summer or Harvest (Late August September)
  3. Power: Harvest
  4. Climate: Dampness or Humidity
  5. Natural form: Soil, mountain, rock, mud, clay
  6. Direction: Centre
  7. Time of year: Late Summer (August, September)
  8. Colour: Yellow
  9. Sound: Singing
  10. Smell: Fragrant
  11. Emotion: Sympathy, Worry
  12. Direction: Centre
  13. Attitude: Stability
  14. Organs and Functions: Stomach and Spleen
  15. Taste: Sweet
  16. Sense organ: Mouth
  17. Controls: Muscles and Flesh
  18. Generates: Fat
  19. Spirit: Yi – Thought/Intention

The METAL Element has the Capacity to - Feel loss and move on, take in the richness of life to feel satisfied

The season for Metal is Autumn. In nature Metal revitalises the earth, in autumn the fruit and leaves fall to the ground and rot, providing minerals and nutrients that nourish and enrich the earths capacity to grow new plants. Metal provides quality form deep with the earth in rock and precious metals.

Metal has always been valuable. Metals as minerals or trace elements in our food. Four percent of our bodies are made from trace elements. These regulate the bodies chemistry; the value of metal is buried deep within and is extremely important. Metal is the receiver of pure Qi from the Heavens, through the lungs.

A people with a healthy Metal Element can apricate the richness of life and feel satisfied. They accept that when something is over they must let go, not hanging on to attachments.

The Lungs take in the Qi from Heaven and the Small Intestine let go of what has been accumulated and no longer needed.

A Metal Element person may feel that something is lacking in their life but not sure what a longing, grief of some quality missing. The ‘father figure’ is important in the Metal Element with installing the sense of your own value into a person, a Metal element may have feelings of worthlessness. There can be issues with being disconnected and distanced and can crave this, this can be that Metal element can be searching for a sense of value, looking for recognition.

Metal people may like minimalism. They are organised, clean, and contained. They like quality things in their life. They can be ambitious, forceful and set in their ways as metal is very strong; they are self-reliant and prefer to handle their problems alone.

  1. Melancholic or Sad – Satisfied
  2. Greif – No grief or inert
  1. Grief and Loss
  2. Recognition
  3. Approval
  4. Feeling Complete
  5. Feeling Adequate in the World, Finding Meaning
  1. Fragile – Unyielding
  2. Cut off – Seeking Connection
  3. Resigned or Inert –  Overworking and Achieving
  4. Craving Quality and Purity – Messy and Polluted
  5. Deeply Motivated – Nonchalant
  1. Receives with grace
  2. Let’s go of what is not needed
  3. Sees Quality
  4. Finds Meaning
  5. Breaths Well
  6. Feels Adequate
  7. Finds Inspiration
  8. Sees Value

When the Metal element is unbalanced, either too weak or excessive, problems in these areas might occur.

  1. Lungs issues, such as asthma
  2. Breathing problems
  3. Intestines-related problems
  4. The lungs and large intestine organs are connected with the element of Metal


When the Lungs are in balance a person can be inspired and feel vital about life and take in the good. When the lungs are out of balance, the person can feel loss and become an uninspired type of person. They find it hard to move into the future and can be jealous, grief-stricken, searching for quality and recognition. They may gather things of quality around them to help feel valued.

The Small intestine is the ‘drainer of the dregs’ of body, mind and spirit sorting out and letting go. This is important so internal pollution does not build up in a physical way. If mentally congested there can be difficulties to move on with life and to find quality from experiences.

With Metal imbalance there can be blockages or weakness. These can cause nose problems, dry or brittle hair problems, respiratory problems such as colds and flu. Difficulties with intimacy and relationship problems, seeking or rejecting value, accepting praise taking on new ideas and letting go. Also a general lack of energy and inspiration in their lives, due to being obstructed.

  1. Time of Day: 3am – 7am
  2. Time of Year: Autumn (October, November, December)
  3. Power: Decrease
  4. Climate: Dryness
  5. Colour: White
  6. Sound: Weeping
  7. Smell: Rotten
  8. Emotion: Grief
  9. Direction: West
  10. Attitude: Inner strength, righteousness
  11. Organs/Functions: Lungs and Colon
  12. Taste: Pungent, spicy
  13. Sense Organ: Nose
  14. Controls: Skin and Hair
  15. Generates: Body hair
  16. Spirit: Po – the corporeal soul (physical soul)
Metal Element


Water Element


The WATER Element has the Capacity to - Assess risks and degree of threat

The season of water is Winter, a Yin time of quiet and rest. Water is everywhere but has no shape only taking the form given by containers, rivers pools and seas, and then leaving its mark. The softest of substances flowing quietly but can wear the hardest rock and move any obstacle. Water filters through the earth, enters roots of vegetation then raises a with warmth as a gas and appears in the sky as clouds.

Water is inner strength our power and an inheritance from our ancestors. The Kidneys store Jing which is responsible for birth, growth, reproduction and development. Water gives will, willpower, ambition, drive and motivation. This must be controlled as it can deplete the Qi. The bladder transforms Qi to give the power.

Water Elements show qualities like Winter which makes them appear quiet, cool, calm and reflective. However inwardly they are building up reserves and preparing for spring or what may lay ahead, this can be born from the fear to survive.

Water Element uses resources of energy, time, contacts, and money wisely, rather than hoarding or overspending them. An excess of this element is said to cause indecision and lack of staying power.

Water Element also represents a person’s wisdom. A balanced Water shows a person who is wise and intelligent and capable of thinking clearly and acting appropriately. Therefore, when the Water element is very weak or missing, a person might be foolish, misguided or irrational in their thinking.

A Water person may be someone who takes great risks either personally or with others welfare. Some  Water Elements do high risk sports, or take risks with money, the adrenaline high keeps them going. Constant high-risk taking behaviour depletes Water until their system crashes.

The Water Element needs reassurance above all to give them the ability to get through each day. People can hide their fear in a attempt to persuade themselves and others they are not fearful.

  1. Needing to be Safe
  2. Being Reassured
  3. Trusting
  4. Drive
  5. Excitation or Stimulation in Danger
  1. Risk Taking – Fearing the Worst or Overcautious
  2. Distrusting, Double Checking, Trusting
  3. Intimidating – Reassuring
  4. Driven – No Drive
  5. Agitation – Paralysis
  • Ambitious
  • Anticipate danger
  • Courageous
  • Determined
  • Productive
  • Driven
  • Quiet
  • Inward

When Water element is not balanced, either too weak or excessive, problems in these areas might occur.

  1. Sexual organs, reproduction and related sexual diseases
  2. Blood-related problems
  3. Urinary and prostate problems


The power of Water gives all the other elements their strength no cell can function without Water. The Water is the beginning and end we need it invitro and it declines in our body thoughout life. When younger fluids make the body and mind more flexible, as we age the body becomes more brittle due to less water in your system. This is a another good reason to drink plenty of water!

Kidneys are the servant of life they have both control and strength to keep life on a firm footing. If the kidneys are out of balance, a person often feels scared, frightened and fearful, they can be hypersensitive, mistrusting and even paranoid.

The Bladder’s main function is to is to transform and move the Qi, keeping all the body fluids in the right place and keeping the natural quality and quantity. Upto 60% of the body is water, the bladder has a crucial role to do with the functions associated with body fluids.

Water blockages and or weakness can manifest physically as ear, hair and tooth problems, urinary infections, kidney stones, infertility, sexual problems, dull headaches, lower back, leg and knee problems, oedema, a lack of willpower and determination and kidney disease.

  1. Time of day: 3pm – 7pm
  2. Time of year: Winter (Late December, January February)
  3. Power: Storage
  4. Climate: Cold
  5. Colour: Blue, Dark Blue, Black
  6. Sound: Groaning
  7. Smell: Putrid
  8. Emotion: Fear
  9. Direction: North
  10. Attitude: Caution
  11. Organs: Kidney and Bladder
  12. Taste: Salty
  13. Sense Organ: Ear
  14. Controls: Bones
  15. Movement: Floating
  16. Generates: Teeth
  17. Controls: Bones and Marrow
  18. Spirit: Zhi – Willpower

The WOOD Element has the Capacity to - Be assertive and yield to grow and develop

The season for Wood is Spring. After the hibernation of winter, the power of Yang brings the warmth of Spring to stimulate growth and development and the green of nauture appears. Many Wood element people are very aware of the power of Spring and resonate with its power of birth and upward new growth. Giving vision and potential for growth and change and determination achieve.

The concept of Wood is Creative and Determined. Just as an Oak tree starts as an acorn and requires patience, determination, frustration and creativity to flourish into a magnificent tree. Many Wood Element people experience anger, assertiveness, drive and frustration. This can feed the creativity to bring a generous, idealistic, flexible Wood person to great things, or even just to get through each day.

Wood Element people may have an internal plan outlining their capabilities, direction and determination. Depending on the nature of their Wood, they may show flexibility, in the face of obstacles and grow. Some may have difficulty adapting and become stuck, angry and frustrated. Like trees people require the resources to fulfil their potential to adapt to changing circumstances.  As people mature, they may be able to uproot and change environment to support their desire to grow and develop. The Wood person may internalise their anger causing anxiety and depression.

  1. Meekness
  2. Assertiveness
  3. Anger
  4. Rage or quick tempered
  5. Introverted
  1. Boundaries
  2. Power
  3. Being correct
  4. Personal growth
  5. Development
  1. Assertive or Direct – Passive or Indirect
  2. Seeking Justice – Apathetic
  3. Rigid – Over flexible
  4. Excessively organised – Disorganised
  5. Frustrated – Defiant
  6. Over Obedient – Compliant
  7. Decisive –  Indecisiveness
  1. Projects come to fruition from good planning and decision making.
  2. You have the sight to plan, the vision to decide.
  3. The ability to see injustice
  4. Your body is supple and strong
  5. Tension is released
  6. Your Liver and Gall Bladder digest and assimilate well
  7. Respond well to defined situations with clear boundaries
  8. Will control situations in a calm organised and caring way

When Wood element is not balanced, either too weak or excessive problems in these areas might occur.

  1. Liver
  2. Gall bladder
  3. Blood
  4. Eyes,Tears
  5. Muscles
  6. Tendons
  7. Body hair
  8. Nails
  9. Hormones


In the Wood Element the two organs are Liver and Gall Bladder, their functions are planning and decision making.

Wood has much to do with sight too, both with your physical eyes taking in through the eyes and mental sight having foresight to plan ahead. 

Liver and Gallbladder organs are connected with the element of Wood. When the Liver is out of balance, the person can be very resistant and become literally a ‘stick in the mud’ type of person, who finds it hard to uproot themselves and adapt to changes. They can become inflexible, irritable, and nervous and even become angry, the liver promotes the free flow of emotions.

When someone has liver blockages and or weakness,  they may have eye problems, nail problems, liver diseases like Jaundice, twitching, sharp headaches. Problems and pains will move around the body like the wind moves. Limbs may become arthritic; tendons and ligaments tighten causing difficulty in movement.

The Liver influences menstruation, the blood flow with heavy or lack of periods, painful periods and can affect fertility.

If the Liver and Gall bladder to not digest and assimilate foods well it can cause pain and stagnation.

Emotional responses may turn into impatient outbursts of anger, shouting at people and things in attempt to control a situation that they feel has lost control, maybe from bad planning. Also may cause people to withdraw into themselves.

  • Time of day: 11pm- 3am
  • Time of year: Spring (March, April May, early June)
  • Power: Birth
  • Climate: Wind
  • Colour: Green
  • Sound: Shout
  • Smell: Rancid
  • Emotion: Anger
  • Direction: East
  • Attitude: Positive, enthusiastic
  • Organs or Functions: Liver & Gallbladder
  • Taste: Sour
  • Sense organ: Eyes
  • Controls: Ligaments and Tendons
  • Movement: Expansion Outwards
  • Generates: Nails
  • Spirit: The Hun – Ethereal soul
Wood Element


Changing Seasons

Decision Time?

Thank You for Inspiration from my teachers and their books:- Angela and John Hicks, Nora Franglen, JR Worsley, The College of Traditional Acupuncture and of course my patients from over 25years of practicing Traditional Five Element Acupuncture.