The Five Elements of Chinese Medicine

What is the Five Element Theory?

The Five Element Theory describes the relationship between the different elements in nature and our life force energy (or qi, pronounced chi) which flows through them.

In Chinese Medicine, the Five Elements of Wood, Fire, Earth Metal and Water are the basic elements of the material world.

What are the Five Elements?

The elements are continually evolving and changing within you, and some become stronger and more dominant and different stages of our lives. Everyone is born under a corresponding element, but the balance of the elements will continue to change and shift throughout that person’s life.

Each element has unique characteristics and is associated with a season, colour, personality type and area of the body.

The characteristics of each Element assist Chinese medicine practitioners to view each Element individually as well as their relationship with one another. They can then help their patients better balance their physical and mental health, thus supporting their entire mind, body, and soul.

Characteristics of the Five Elements


The Wood element holds the energy of Spring when nature is re-emerging from the slumber of winter. Its energy is gentle at first and then breaks through the earth with an exploding energy in a glory of creative growth.

Wood energy therefore corresponds to youth, energy, and growth. It makes us feel creative, inspired, and active. When Wood energy is out of balance, however, we become stuck. We find ourselves unable to move forward or to plan for the future. This can create a build up of frustration or irritability which can manifest itself as angry outbursts or mood swings.


The Fire element is associated with Summer. The hottest months of the year, nature is at its peak of growth and plants are radiant with beautiful flowers. This is the phase of maturity, heat, love, and manifestation.

Our fire energy helps us to step into the limelight, showing off our gifts, beauty and truths. Fire energy is about passion and charisma, with Fire personalities often being the centre of attention.

When fire energy is out of balance, we can be impulsive and sometimes irritable. It can become hard to express ourselves, leading to agitation and anxiety.


Earth energy is the period in between each season where the energy is in transition from one season to the next. It is particularly prevalent at the end of the summer. It offers a sense of security and and the feeling of being rooted, calm and focused.

Earth is the mother of life, always there to nurture, soothe and support us. Therefore, when in harmony, Earth energy helps us to feel confident and secure. We can cope with change and see it as an opportunity for growth.

When out of harmony, we find it easy to stagnate and don’t venture out of our comfort zone. Life’s uncertainty can become frightening, and we become averse to taking risks, becoming obsessive, striving for perfection. We can feel off balance, disconnected and confused which can lead to being disorganised or cluttered.


The Metal element holds the energy of Autumn. This is the season of harvest, reaping what you have sown and sorting pure from impure. The weather cools and nature dim its lights. Plants get rid of what they no longer need, shedding their leaves.

When in balance, the Metal energy calls for soul searching and going within, finding your truth. It is a time to reflect and to face unresolved grief.

When out of balance we can be hyper critical, over disciplined, direct, and cold. We may wallow in grief, lose our self-worth or struggle with feelings of depression.


The Water element holds the energy of Winter. The energy returns deep inside, plants become dormant, it is a time of rest. This is the time for us to become still and quiet, just to be.

Water energy is associated with fearlessness and determination. Water personalities are old souls, and are wise, reflective, and private. It signifies a time to face your fears and vulnerabilities.

Out of balance, the Water element can create feelings of fear, paranoia, indecisiveness, and exhaustion. Burn out can be very common.

How is it used in skincare?

The theory of Chinese Medicine and the Five Elements can be applied to skincare and massage therapy.

Our skincare range creates a range of products and treatments that can be personalised to a client’s chosen element. This element can be chosen by the client based on their birth year or can be selected in a consultation based upon an emotion or skin issue. Each element has an Elemental Elixir and Elemental Clay Powder which can be mixed to make a rejuvenating, bespoke facial treatment.

Our products work synergistically to create unique treatments that will balance out each element for the client. For example, if a client wanted to treat acne that would be defined as an imbalance of the wood element. The specific treatment can then be selected using products from our wood range, to rebalance the wood energy.

The Five Elements are also incorporated with a unique Yin and Yang organ and meridian, so our treatments and products also include the Yin and Yang oils to help rebalance or revitalise the client’s energy.