At 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, and odour, time of day, season, and type of weather, taste and seasonal power.
In my last summer blog, I talked about the Fire element which was very much about activity and expansion. We are now in the last few weeks of late summer where the warmth of the sunshine is still with us though there is a coolness and dampness in the air as we move towards autumn. The energy of late summer and the Earth element is focused on storing what is needed to see us through the autumn and winter and we witness this in nature with the squirrels gathering food to store for the winter months ahead. The days are getting shorter and yet the leaves are still on the trees, waiting to fall when the autumn comes. There is a feeling of ‘time standing still’ in nature where the peak Yang energy of summer is over and the Yin energy of Autumn/Winter is yet to come.
The Earth element gives us our ability to take in and receive ‘nourishment’ from food, from support from people in our lives and from the ground we walk on in terms of feeling balanced, stable and grounded. So this nourishment can be on a physical, mental or emotional level with the main purpose of the Earth element being to store and distribute this ‘nourishment’ within our bodies. Su Wen Chapter 8 says,
“The Stomach and Spleen are responsible for the storehouses and granaries. The five tastes stem from them.”
(Larre and Rochat de la Vallee 1992b p.97)
The two organs associated with the Earth element are the Stomach and the Spleen/Pancreas. In classic Chinese text (The Nei Ching), the Spleen is believed to be the ‘source of life for all the other organs’ so energetically it is crucial to our health and wellbeing.
When the Stomach and Spleen energy are struggling to digest food and transform the food we eat into nutritive Qi or energy we can feel many different symptoms both physically and mentally. Our Earth element can get clogged up with excess fluids and damp causing a ‘foggy’ head with difficulty concentrating, and a feeling of heaviness in the muscles and limbs. Alternatively, our Earth element can become too dry and can start to ‘cave in’ affecting our core and with that our sense of inner stability, security and safety. The Spleen energy from a Chinese Medicine perspective is not only responsible for the limbs and muscles but also for the blood by ‘holding’ blood and manufacturing blood through the distribution of food essences.
The emotions associated with the earth element are over-thinking, worry and sympathy. When the Earth element is out of balance, a person may reject support or help from people or feel a constant hunger for support. A person may ‘over-sympathise’ with others or at the other end of the spectrum, be unmoved by other’s pain or suffering.
Depletion or excess of the Earth element can manifest in different ways such as: poor concentration, a feeling of heaviness in the head and limbs, fatigue, loose stools, bloating, lack of or ‘excessive’ appetite, regurgitation after food, nausea, indigestion, ulcers, craving sweet food, menstrual problems (i.e.’ flooding or watery menstrual blood), varicose veins.
Ways to support and strengthen your Earth energy
Eat warming soups and stews made with nourishing root vegetables to support your stomach and spleen energy. The stomach likes warm foods so eating too many salads at this time and in cooler months can weaken the stomach energy.
Eat regular meals and take time to eat whilst sitting down. Too much or too little food, excess sweet foods, standing up eating or rushed eating can all deplete the stomach and spleen energy.
Try and eat a nourishing warming breakfast before 9 am as this is the time when the Stomach energy reaches its peak. Eating breakfast at this time will enhance the Stomach and Spleen Qi.
Make time to be in nature, around trees, the soil and earth. Walking or sitting in this environment will energetically support you spleen and stomach energy and also calm the shen (the spirit of the heart) and the mind.
Incorporate things into your life which help to still the mind and calm obsessive thinking and worrying. Yoga, meditation, walking in nature, moderate exercise are all supportive in different ways.
Come and have, or continue to have acupuncture treatment, as this can support your Earth element by strengthening, harmonizing and regulating your Spleen and Stomach Qi.
Some examples of acupuncture point names on the Spleen and Stomach channels illustrate the essence of the Earth Element perfectly such as: Qi Chong (Surging Qi), Stomach 14 Ku Gang (Storehouse), Stomach 20 Cheng Man (Receiving Fullness), Stomach 40 Feng Long (Abundant Prosperity), Spleen 20 Zhou Rong (Encircling Glory), Spleen 21 Da Bao (Great Enveloping). These last two points in particular are like an energetic hug and can help to ‘fill’ people up if they feel a void inside of themselves.
Acupuncture is a dynamic from of medicine which harmonizes 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 Kellham is available at the Alma Vale Centre on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Contact us on 0117 377 1186 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book your acupuncture appointment.
Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture
Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements
Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture