Water ElementAt the core of Chinese Medicine is the principle that nature is governed by Yin/Yang and the five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each season is associated with a different element and with the energy system of different organs. Each element has a different colour, sound, emotion, odour, time of day, season, and type of weather, taste and seasonal power.

Over the last month or so, we have been moving through the transitional period where the season changes from autumn (Metal element), into the early winter (Water element). At this time of the year, we all witness how nature slows down and rests quietly, animals take cover and sleep, water can freeze, plant seeds wait below the surface ready to emerge with new life in the next season….

A quote from the classic text Nei Jing (200 BCE) Su Wen chapter 2 states:-

“In winter all is hidden, this is the season of retirement into the depth, because it is cold outside. It is necessary at the moment not to disturb or disperse the Yang energy, thus complying with the energy of the winter.” (Anonymous, 1979, p.3)

The Water element governs the energetic systems of the Kidney (Yin) and Bladder (Yang). The Kidneys store our essence, which influences birth, growth, reproduction, development, conception, pregnancy, menopause and the aging process. They are the foundation of Yin and Yang for all the other organs in the body and are often referred to as the ‘Root of Life’.

Our Blood circulation and lymphatic system, the fluid nature of tears, saliva, perspiration, urine, and sexual secretions are all affected by the Water element. Imagine the force of a wave, or waterfall and the determination and will of the ocean, and at the same time, the power, serenity and stillness of a deep lake. We all have these different forms of Water within us; oceans, rivers, ponds, and reservoirs are all expressions of the Water element.

The emotion connected with the Water element is Fear and it also determines our will, willpower, ambition, drive and motivation in life. When the Water element is out of balance, a person can feel very fearful and over cautious, looking ahead and imagining threats that may happen in life and fearing the worst. On the other hand, a person may not feel appropriate fear in life or suppress their fear.

Someone with strong Kidney energy will have a healthy drive in life and feel glad to be alive. People with depleted Kidney energy may struggle to have any will or drive, or go into overdrive and push themselves too hard in life, causing more Kidney energy depletion.

This depletion can manifest in different ways such as:

  • an achy lower back or cold lower back and feeling the cold
  • tinnitus
  • fertility issues
  • frequency or infrequency of urine
  • osteoporosis
  • mental restlessness
  • exhaustion
  • night sweats
  • dry mouth and throat at night
  • chronic asthma
  • high libido
  • low sperm count.


Ways to support and strengthen your Kidney energy

Foods: Blue/black foods correspond to the colour of the Water Element so kidney beans, aduki beans, black beans, black sesame seeds, blueberries, blackberries, dark grapes and wild rice are all beneficial. Eggs and chicken are very nourishing. Enjoy warming soups and stews, steamed winter greens, squash, and small amounts of salty foods.Warm Drink

Try to drink filtered water, and particularly during winter, drink warm water such as herbal teas.

Keep warm, particularly around your lower back and Kidney area. This is where the acupuncture point Ming Men is located, which translates as the ‘Gate of Life’ or ‘Destiny.’

Take time to rest and restore your energy as this will support your Qi and overall immune system. Try to go to bed a bit earlier if needed and slow down when you can. Balance satisfying activity and challenge with rest and quietness.

Come and have, or continue to have acupuncture treatment,. This will support your Kidney energy, which in turn can strengthen your will, willpower, ambition, drive and motivation. Acupuncture is a dynamic from of medicine that harmonises and supports your overall energy base as well as addressing particular element imbalances within your body, which could be manifesting on a physical and/or emotional level.

Julie Kelham

Julie Kelham

Available at the Alma Vale Centre:

Tuesdays 2:15pm – 9:00pm
Wednesdays 1:30pm – 6:30pm
Fridays 1:30pm – 5:30pm
Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm

Contact the Alma Vale Centre on 0117 377 1186 or info@almavalecentre.co.uk


  • Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements
  • Five Element Acupuncture
  • Wood Becomes Water (Chinese Medicine in Everyday Life)