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1st Dec 17
Metal Element in Chinese Medicine
Article by Revana Swales BSc. MSc. DipAc. MBAcC
The five elements (Wu Xing) are a fundamental part of traditional Acupuncture and Chinese medicine. They are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each represents a dynamic principle of movement in nature and within us. They are all interrelated but also each have distinct attributes.
The element Metal represents metals such as gold buried deep within the earth, small in quantity, hard to find and very valuable. In a similar way Metal element is associated with precious gifts and talents buried within us, not always easy to find and express. We also see the expression of Metal in minerals and trace elements in the Earth and our food, small amounts are essential for regulation and balance.
Metal is yin in nature, it’s power is decreasing. The season of metal is Autumn, when the leaves, fruits and seeds (if not already harvested) fall to the ground where they rot and are absorbed into the earth providing nourishment to enrich the earth’s ability to grow new plants. Traditional farming systems understood the need to allow some parts of the crop to be left to return to the earth and to leave fields to lie fallow at times. In autumn, after the growth of Spring and the harvest of Summer nights become longer and temperature is cooler. It is the time to let go of things that must pass and draw energy inwards in preparation for a new cycle to begin. The energy of metal is also about regulation and organisation, necessary to prepare for the coming winter.
The direction of metal is the West, the setting sun and the ending of the day. Its colour is white which in the East is the traditional colour of mourning. The emotions associated with Metal are grief and sadness. When the Metal element is balanced we are able to grieve, feel pain but also move on. Imbalance in Metal energy can cause us to become stuck or trapped in our grief and unable to let go. This stagnation of energy and inability to come to terms with change has an oppressive effect and can ultimately lead to physical health problems. The lungs are associated with the Metal element and the chest in particular can tighten up in response to grief. The feeling of ‘choking up’ where the chest and throat tighten up unable to cry or express emotion is typical of stuck grief. The other organ associated with Metal element is the large intestine.
Healthy Metal element allows us to both take in, as our lungs take in air and also when the time is right to let go as the large intestine removes from our bodies that which is no longer needed. Both processes are essential for a full and satisfying life. Chinese classics sometimes describe the sky as a metal dome and the stars as holes through which heavenly light shines down to earth, allowing the lungs to draw in heavenly qi and the breath of life.
If you feel like your Metal or indeed any other element is out of kilter, give Revana a call to see how acupuncture can help bring some balance back into your life.
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