Pain can come in all forms, from a stubbed toe to the pain we feel after the death of a loved one. Some pain is chronic, long-term, and may never fully disappear; while, other pain is acute, short-term pain that only lasts a split second. Often physical & emotional pains go hand-in-hand. When someone is in physical pain, it often changes their outlook on life, making it hard to sleep, get out of bed, go to work, and even complete simple every day activities. This daily struggle puts extra hardship on the emotional self. It can work the other way around also. When we are dealing with emotional distress, it can keep us from taking care of ourselves completely, which can lead to other physical pains.

Acupuncture is well known to help physical pains & discomfort in the body, but it can also be helpful in relieving emotional pain. I have found that by addressing both emotional and physical pain together and integrating both aspects of healing, a treatment can be far more effective than just treating one or the other. To do this I use a method called the 5 Elements in which we use Yin & Yang and a system of 5 Elements to explain both the world around us and the world within us.

Within the 5 Element (5E) system there are five distinctive Elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. Each Element has its own set characteristics that include thought patterns, values, climates, and emotional states. By identifying these characteristics within people, I can see which elements are out of balance and in balance within a person. We each have a dominant element, but have aspects of all five within our character, and what makes us all different is what variation of Elements we possess. I use this “Constitutional Factor (or CF)” as an integral tool in my treatments.

Fire is about joy, partnerships/relationships, and maturity. In the outside world Fire can be seen in the warmth of summer while inside our bodies it is seen in the heart & the arteries that channel through the body.

Earth is about sympathy, worry, and service to others. Someone with a lot of ‘Earth energy’ is often seen as nurturing, mothering, or a teacher. In the outside world it is seen in the late summer, when the weather is humid and the farmers are starting to harvest. Within ourselves it is seen throughout the digestive system and our muscles.

Metal is about grief, letting go, and inspiration. A person who is very ‘Metal’ is always looking for righteousness for themselves and others. Around us we see Metal in the dryness of autumn, as the leaves are falling off the trees and rotting on the ground. Within our own bodies it is seen in the lungs and in our large intestine.

Water is about fear, wisdom, and introspection. People with a lot of ‘Water energy’ make very good listeners; they soak in what is being said. Water is seen in our long, cold, northern winters. Traditionally, this is the time of year when our food comes out of storage that we have worked the rest of the year to gather. Within ourselves Water is very deep and is seen in our bones and bone marrow.

Wood is about new beginnings, flexibility (think bamboo, not oak trees), and creativity. In the outside world Wood is seen in the spring, as the ground melts away and new growth is being born and the world is turning green again. Within our own bodies, Wood is about seeing and vision as well as the tendons and ligaments that allow movement and flexibility within our structure.

As you can see, each Element is part of our lives every day, and maybe as you read these descriptions you noticed one that you connected with more strongly than others or you could identify someone in your life as being very strongly influenced by one of them. These descriptions are not concrete. Elements have many subcategories that I did not get into here, and certain aspects of these Elements can be out of balance, causing disharmonies within the body. It is also important to realize that it isn’t about one Element, it is about the relationship we have with each of the elements. On the first of every month, I will choose an element to talk about in more detail. And within that month I will be posting about a physical and emotional ailment that can be related to the monthly Element.