Winter – Season of the Water Element 2019 - Alma Vale Centre

In Chinese Medicine, Winter is governed by the Water Element – Acupuncturist Julie Kelham explains what this means for our health and wellbeing


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, odour, time of day, season, and  type of weather, taste and seasonal power.

We are in the heart of  winter, governed by the Water element, and at this time of the year we witness how nature has slowed 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.  I have also noticed over the past few weeks there have been times where there has been a hint of spring and the Wood element, where the bird song has changed, the sun has some warmth, buds are out and the foliage of the trees appears as a brighter spring green. However, for now  we are with winter and the cold, darkness and depth of the Water element….

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)


Impact on our body 

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 ageing 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.


Connection with our emotions

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. It could also manifest as 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.

This is the time of year when the Kidney energy is at its lowest so it is particularly important to honour the water element and have adequate rest and sleep, moments of stillness and to eat nourishing foods to support and replenish our energy reserves.


Ways to support and strengthen your Kidney energy


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.

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, as this will support your Kidney energy, which in turn can strengthen your will, willpower, ambition, drive and motivation. Acupuncture is a dynamic form of medicine that harmonises and supports your overall energy base. It also addresses particular element imbalances within your body that could be manifesting on a physical and/or emotional level.


To book an acupuncture appointment with Julie Kelham, call us now on 0117 3771186



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