What are the Five Elements?

Classical Five Element Acupuncture’s foundational premise of diagnosing and treating is what sets this practice apart from other types of acupuncture. Five Element Acupuncture recognizes how the natural world works and how we, as a part of nature, should follow suit. The entire universe, including ourselves, can be understood and experienced through nature and the five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. These elements can be observed in different ways, including distinct emotions, colors, sounds, and odors. They describe the way we can function in accordance with nature, even in a modern world, and are an important picture of our potential.



The Wood element is associated with spring, which is a time of rebirth. After a long, cold, and restful winter, we are ready to spring back into action. Naturally, there is a sense of hope and optimism. Wood gives us flexibility and structure and the ability to have vision. Imagine how branches can bend in the spring’s wind and carry heavy loads without breaking. This energy allows us to bend and shift without becoming rigid and stiff.


The Fire element is associated with summer with its brightest and longest days. The days in the summer are so long that it gives us more time to go out and be with friends and family, and most importantly, be present. Fire gives us the ability to connect and communicate warmly, openly, and honestly.


The Earth element is associated with late summer, which is a time of harvest and abundance. Earth allows us to receive and feel nourished. This gives us the ability to nurture and sympathize ourselves and others without overextending.


The Metal element is associated with autumn, which is a time of change and letting go of what is not necessary. Nature instructs us to let go, as trees let go of their leaves each year. This element allows us to discern what is of quality and valuable, and what should be let go.


The Water Element is associated with the winter season with its shortest and darkest days. It is a time to hibernate, go inwards, reflect, and build up reserves. Water gives us strength, courage, and willpower to fulfill our purpose.