The Five Element Theory functions as the major diagnostic and treatment tool in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).Based on observation of the natural cycles, the five elements –fire, earth, metal, water and wood – represent interrelationships in our environment and within ourselves.
I was first introduced to the Chinese Five Element Theory during classes with mentor Annemarie Colbin. Observing how the elements and the list of qualities represented by each were both constructive and destructive fascinated me. Each element is associated with a different time of year, a major organ, a sound, an emotion, particular foods, a taste and so on. At various points in my life I have experienced “ah-ha” moments after staring at the Five Element Theory chart.
Springtime is the season where we wake up from the sleepiness and heaviness of winter. The desire to start new projects, clean house, cleanse, start fresh comes from normal impulses as Mother Earth begins a new cycle of rejuvenation. In the Chinese Five Element Theory the wood element is in full force. The filtering system of the body, the liver, is the focus of the wood element. The emotion represented by this element is anger, the sound – shouting and the taste – sour.
Some feel inclined to embark upon a cleansing diet during the spring, as a way of flushing out some of the impurities that have piled up or as a means of losing weight. True purification seekers may venture into the Master Cleanse or other fasts. Simply eating a little lighter and including lots of fresh greens is perhaps a more moderate approach.
Once you set the intention of cleaning your inner house and begin to follow through, the wood element may perk up. And not always in a friendly way. The road to a lighter, cleaner you may require discharging emotions as well as the more visible types of weightiness. Resentments that have not been fully dealt with may demand attention. Tempers flaring and tears pouring are not uncommon.
The remedy from the food world is young greens, sprouts and the sour taste. A kind and gentle way to support the
work of the liver is to simply start each morning with a large glass of water that has freshly squeezed lemon juice in it. Ahh. Yes Mr. Liver. We know you’re trying to shake out the debris, no need for all the shouting, Here’s a sip of lemon water, a fresh green salad dressed with lemon, and would you feel better if I had only a very light supper for a week. There there now.