Five Element Theory – Wood

Thousands of years ago, Chinese Taoist philosophers began looking for ways to better understand and explain the body’s health. According to the teachings of their philosophy, personal health was related to elements found in nature and could be affected by the changing seasons. The Taoists developed the ‘Five Element Theory,’ still in use by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners today. Each of the five elements, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire have attributes that affect us physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually.



The desire to move forward and make changes becomes stronger at this time of year. Spring can be a time to clear space for new ideas, new relationships and new possibilities. It also brings clarity in our vision as we start to look ahead. Begin this fresh start by breathing deeply and enjoying the gentle, warm sunny days, no matter how few and far apart they may seem.


In spring, we experience emotional and physical flexibility in the mind and body. The Wood element is associated with our muscle tissues, tendons and nervous system. Stretching is crucial as we feel a greater need to be outside and a general need to move out of the winter doldrums. Spring is a good time to look at old patterns and habits that no longer work well and begin to ponder life without these aspects. Remember to be gentle and have mercy with anything that’s new and fragile, both inside and outside of ourselves. Gentleness and harmony are the key words here, as harsh movement towards any change can bring dis-harmony and strife to our being.


Wood’s colour is green, and its taste is sour. Anger is the emotion of this element. An imbalance can bring dis-ease to the Liver and Gall Bladder as they are the organs associated with the Wood element. This makes spring cleansing important to clear the heaviness of our thoughts and rid our bodies of excess waste accumulated during winter. Cleansing brings clarity of thought, makes the vital organs function more smoothly and promotes a general sense of lightness and well being. One can begin with simply fasting between the hours of 6 pm and 6 am. Another simple cleanse is to rid the diet of processed foods and choose instead to eat home-cooked, whole foods with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The release of tears may be quite common during spring, and are more from frustration than sadness. Tears seem to come out of nowhere and finish just as quickly, like sudden flash floods. A quick way to bring balance back into the Wood element is with laughter.

Walk with gentleness and purpose, pausing to ponder and show kindness. And smile, even if you don’t feel like it. It’s the quickest way to lift your spirits.