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Five Elements - wood

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

Wood element. Five elements acupuncture. Chinese medicine

Is it Spring yet?

Although it may not yet feel like Spring is quite here yet, according to the ancient Chinese Calendar, Spring starts at the beginning of February. This might seem like a wildly hopeful notion but looking carefully, it is possible see the beginnings of change at this time of year. The crocuses and snowdrops are out and the daffodils are beginning to show too. If you take a closer look at the trees, you might be able to spot the small buds beginning to show at the ends of the branches.

In five element theory, the nature of Wood is an upwards energy to do with growth and pushing towards the light. It is a Yang energy which embodies an awakening after the winter period of stillness and prepares for a new period of growth and movement. The energy of Wood is what enables the smallest seed to push forward through the soil towards the light of day. You may notice you have a bit more energy at this time of year and more desire to get outdoors, start new projects, or make new plans.

Wood element. Nature. Trees. Five element acupuncture. Chinese medicine

According to traditional Chinese medicine principles, one of the correspondences of the Wood element is vision. Spring enables us to have greater foresight and to make plans and decisions because we can see more clearly the goals we want to achieve and the direction in which we need to go, in order to achieve them. We can envisage them in our mind and imagine how they could become a reality. However, if we find obstacles along the path we have set which get in the way of achieving our goals, we may become irritated, frustrated, or even angry. The emotion associated with the Wood element is anger. This can be seen in both positive and negative ways. Positively, it is the energy and force needed to push towards action but when out of balance, the Wood element can manifest more negatively in outbursts of anger or frustration. Consequently, when a person regularly tends towards anger it may indicate an imbalance in the Wood element.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, other manifestations of Wood element imbalance may include:

  • Pre-menstrual tension*

  • Dizziness*

  • Tinnitus*

  • Migraines*

  • Agitation and shaking*

  • Joint, tendon or ligament problems*

  • Muscle tension and stiffness*

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome*

  • Constipation*

  • Mood swings*

One of the organs related to the Wood element is the Liver. The Liver has been linked to angry manifestations and subsequent symptoms in Western medicine as well as in Chinese medicine. For example - too much alcohol has a detrimental affect on the Liver and many people become angry after drinking too much. In fact, according to a report published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, "Drinking enough alcohol to become intoxicated increases aggression significantly in people who have one particular personality trait, according to new research. But people without that trait don't get any more aggressive when drunk than they would when they're sober. That trait is the ability to consider the future consequences of current actions." From the perspective of Chinese medicine, this ties in very well with the correspondences of the Wood element of vision, foresight and future planning - being able to see ahead (when in balance) and anger and frustration when out of balance.

Outside in nature.  Wood element.  Activity. Chinese medicine.  Five element acupuncture

Whether you follow the Chinese calendar or not, this is the time of year to start using the uprising energy of Wood to engage in more physical activities. Note how you feel at this time of year. Are you beginning to notice you have the extra energy to embark in more active tasks? Or do you feel you just don't have the drive or motivation to get out, get moving, or to make new plans? Traditional Chinese Acupuncture aims to balance the body and mind using different methods such as the five element approach. It may be a treatment option to consider if you feel you need to boost or re-balance your Wood element.

*Please note - some of these symptoms may also indicate other health issues. Therefore GP consultation is always recommended before considering alternative treatment options such as acupuncture.

Article links:

  • Failure to Consider Future Consequences Increases the Effects of Alcohol on Aggression. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.11.013

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