How connected is your body to the elements? For over 2,000 years, Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has explored the ancient concepts of Yin and Yang as the basis from which everything in the universe is formed. Yin-Yang explores the idea that everything is connected to everything else by mutual states of development and change. As the night found in Yin opposes the day found in Yang, the two form equal parts of the same whole to bring about stability and equilibrium to all things. It frames how Chinese medicine views the structure and functions of the body, mind and spirit and the presence of disease.
Together with the theory of Yin-Yang, the Five Elements Theory forms the basis of Traditional Chinese medicine theory, diagnosis and treatment. The five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water show us how our internal organs, systems and structures are categorised and connected. It is especially useful for understanding women’s health issues and imbalances. For example, stress or PMS symptoms may be your Liver’s (organ names are capitalised when referring to it in a TCM context or Liver organ-meridian) way of telling you it is out of balance. While poor digestive health or tummy issues might be your Spleen and Stomach’s way of telling you to rest and relax, as excess stress is causing your Liver harm.
If you feel imbalanced, out of energy, or simply out-of-whack, the Five Elements Theory of Chinese Medicine is a quick way to show you what kind of imbalances to watch out for.
1. Which of these best describes you physically?
A. I have a tall, lean body with broad shoulders and a straight back; my face is long and my complexion may have an olive tinge
B. I have broad shoulders, wide teeth and a pointed head; my hair is curly or thinning, and my complexion tends to be reddish
C. I have a solid frame, with well-built muscles, especially my back and legs; my face is round with a wide jaw and my complexion has more yellowish tones
D. My head, shoulders and upper back are small and my tummy is flat; my face has a squarish shape and a pale complexion, but my voice is strong
E. I have narrow shoulders and a long spine, but my abdomen and head are large, my cheeks are broad, and my complexion has dark tones
2. Which of these best describes your personality?
A. I’m confident, ambitious, passionate and decisive, but prone to anger, resentment and frustration, and sometimes find it difficult to co-operate or share with others
B. I’m optimistic, communicative and charismatic, and enjoy connecting with others, but sometimes have difficulty with boundaries and feelings of isolation
C. I’m a peacemaker, very sociable, and often find myself in negotiating roles, but am not very independent, and am prone to overthinking things
D. I’m disciplined, discerning and methodical, but lack spontaneity, become unsettled when things are disordered, and am prone to feelings of mild anxiety
E. I always take an honest, objective and sensible viewpoint, but am introspective, fearful and not very confident, and sometimes find it difficult to fit in with others
3. How do you respond to different types of weather?
A. I don’t do well when it’s windy (e.g. Spring)
B. I don’t do well when it’s hot (e.g. Summer)
C. I don’t do well when it’s humid or damp (e.g. late Summer)
D. I don’t do well when it’s dry (e.g. Autumn)
E. I don’t do well in the cold (e.g. Winter)
4. When I’m out of balance, I am prone to conditions such as:
A. High blood pressure, headaches or migraines, PMS with period pain
B. Heavy menstrual bleeding, palpitations, insomnia, circulatory problems
C. Blood sugar imbalances, PMS with cravings, digestive disorders, weight problems
D. Cough, fatigue, skin problems, constipation
E. Fluid retention, memory problems, menopause symptoms, fertility issues
Your Chinese Element Is...
If you answered mostly (A) ...
You are strongly influenced by the element Wood, which governs motivation and action. You might benefit from herbs like Peony (found in Fusion® Health Women’s Balance), which helps relieve congested blood and Qi and harmonises Liver and Spleen function.
Wood Symptoms of Balance:
- Clear vision and goals
- Great planners and decision makers
Wood Symptoms of Imbalance:
- Tendency to overwork
- Addictive personality traits
- Irregular Menstrual Cycle
- PMS symptoms
Wood Tips for Better Health:
- Herbs to support liver and female hormones
- Regular exercise such as yoga
- Plenty of rest
- Avoid sugar and hot, spicy foods
If you answered mostly (B) ...
You’re strongly influenced by Fire, which governs joy, strength and wisdom. You might benefit from herbs like Poria (found in Fusion® Health Stress & Anxiety), which calms the heart, mind and spirit to relieve insomnia and mild anxiety.
Fire Symptoms of Balance:
Fire Symptoms of Imbalance:
- Cardiovascular problems
Fire Tips for Better Health:
- Herbs to support heart and nervous system
- Eat plenty of dark, leafy vegetables
- Get outside and take a walk in nature
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid very hot weather
If you answered mostly (C) ...
You’re strongly influenced by Earth, which governs balance and stability. You might benefit from herbs like citrus peel (found in Fusion® Health Liver Tonic) to address stagnant stomach and spleen Qi and relieve indigestion, bloating and nausea.
Earth Symptoms of Balance:
- Compassionate and nurturing people
- Great mediators
- Loyal friends
Earth Symptoms of Imbalance:
- Lack of clarity
- Tendency to contemplate
- Vulnerable to digestive problems
- Bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhoea
- Craving sweet food
Earth Tips for Better Health:
- Consume herbs to support liver and digestive system
- Regular exercise
- Eat warming, nourishing foods
- Ensure you receive enough Vitamin D with regular sun exposure
If you answered mostly (D) ...
You’re strongly influenced by Metal, which governs confidence, intuition and our ability to let go. You might benefit from herbs like Licorice (found in Fusion® Health Women’s Balance) that adds moisture to the Lungs and allows the flow of Qi.
Metal Symptoms of Balance:
- Organised, disciplined
- You like rules and structure
- Possess great inner strength
Metal Symptoms of Imbalance:
- Can become overly critical
- Trouble letting go
- Grief stricken
- Prone to illnesses of lungs, asthma,
- Allergies, skin rashes
- Excessive sweating
Metal Tips for Better Health:
- Herbs to support immune system, lungs and digestive system
- Practice deep breathing exercises
- Avoid mucous-forming foods
- Get involved in social, community-based activities
If you answered mostly (E) ...
You’re strongly influenced by Water, which governs courage, potential and flow. You might benefit from herbs like Goji Berry (found in Fusion® Health Kidney Tonic), which replenishes Kidney energy and nourishes and strengthens Liver and Kidney Yin.
Water Symptoms of Balance:
- Strong willpower
Water Symptoms of Imbalance:
- Tendency to feel fearful, anxious, withdrawn
- Problems with water balance
- Frequent urination
- Fertility problems
- Menopausal symptoms
- Cold extremities
- Arthritis conditions
- Low libido
- Hearing problems
Water Tips for Better Health:
- Herbs to support kidneys and bladder
- Calming exercises such as yoga, pilates and swimming
- Regular massages
- Avoid foods that stress the adrenals (i.e. stimulants)