There are a number of different theoretic models that are important in Chinese medicine and acupuncture. One that provides a detailed understanding of the world and the human body is the concept of the five phases or five elements. This model is taught in most acupuncture schools and is sometimes used exclusively by acupuncturists who are well versed in the five element style of acupuncture. The theory is that by using five element theory, the practitioner can diagnosis a patient's condition and use acupuncture points to adjust an imbalance between the elements, thereby treating the health concern.
The five elements involved in this model are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each element has its own characteristics and while people are rarely only one particular element, there is usually a good chance that one element will stand out among the rest. The particular element that may govern an individual's personality can also give clues to areas where health issues may crop up. So what are the characteristics of each element and how do these fit into human personality?
WOOD: The wood element is associated with growth and the Springtime. Its corresponding direction is East. It's corresponding color and emotion is green and anger. The organs related to Wood are the Liver and Gallbladder. Those that are Wood types tend to seek challenges, love movement, adventure and pressure situations and seek to be the best at whatever they put their mind to. Issues that may plague a Wood type include irritability, impulsive or indulgent behavior, headaches, muscle spasms and high blood pressure. A good balance is found in the ability to stay flexible and moderate their intensity levels.
FIRE: The fire element is associated with warmth, flourishing and the Summer. Its corresponding direction is South. It's corresponding color and emotion is red and joy. The organs related to Fire include the Heart, Pericardium, Small Intestine, and Triple Warmer. Those that are Fire types love excitement and drama and find themselves to be intuitive, empathetic and vibrant in spirit. Issues that may affect a fire type include anxiety, agitation, exhaustion, insomnia, heart palpitations and rashes. Fire types should seek to conserve their body's spiritual, physical and emotional resources while tempering their vigor.
EARTH: The earth element is associated with balance and the period of change between the seasons. Its corresponding direction is the balanced center. It's corresponding color and emotion is orange-yellow and contemplation or worry. The organs related to Earth are the Spleen and Stomach. The Earth types seek to be involved and needed. They relish the chance to be in charge behind the scenes and insist on harmony and accommodation in all aspects of their lives. Earth types may suffer from worry or self doubt and tend to be overprotective and disappoint easily when their expectations are not met. Physical symptoms may include fatigue, digestive complaints and constant unexplained muscle tenderness. An Earth type needs to take time to separate them from their relationships and develop self reliance.
METAL: The metal element is associated with the beginning of decay and the Autumn. Its corresponding direction is West. The color and emotion associated with metal is white and sadness. The organs related to Metal are the Lungs and Large Intestine. Metal types respect reason and principle and expect others to be disciplined and live to high standards. Issues that may affect a metal type include being distinct and detached as well as too formal and strict. Dry skin, respiratory difficulty, stiff joints and poor circulation often affect a metal type. Metals types would do well to incorporate more spontaneity, passion and social events into their lives.
WATER: The water elements relates to introversion and the Winter. Its corresponding direction is the North. The color and emotion associated with water is black and fear. The organs related to Water are the Kidney and Bladder. The Water type is an enigma and is clever, introspective and self reliant. They are keenly interested in knowledge and understanding. A Water type may find themselves suffering from isolation and loneliness as well as chills, backache, loss of libido and possibly dull vision or hearing.
To get an idea of the way the Qi flows through these elements, it is best to imagine a pentagon. The Qi moves in a circular manner from the wood through fire, earth, metal and water elements. In addition to the circular movement of the energy through them, elements have a relationship with elements on the other side of the pentagon. In this way, each element is connected in some way to the other four and can be affected negatively during periods of excess or deficiency. This is why it is sometimes difficult to really determine exactly what element you may categorized as.
While the information above is very basic, take a moment and see how you might relate to the five elements. One of the very important things to remember is that no one person is ever one specific element. Based on the way the elements interact, it is possible to have aspects of a number of elements in your personality or health profile. This fits in perfectly with the concept that the body is made up of multiple systems acting as one and having an impact on each other during daily life.