Before speaking about the Five Elements, it’s important to note that the elements are in constant interplay in our body. Each individual possesses all five element’s energy all the time, but only one or two elements are the most dominant. The dominant element may change throughout the course of an individual’s lifetime.
“Mother Earth” is the metaphor of the Earth element. It is always giving, and nourishing. Therefore, the expression of the Earth element in our body is through the digestive system.
The Earth element’s corresponding organs are the Spleen (also Pancreas) and Stomach, which are in charge of our nourishment. According to Chinese Medical Classics, their role is to transform food into nutrients, and to transport nutrition throughout the body.
Difficulty in transformation and transportation could be a health challenge, if the Earth element is weak, including the digestion and distribution of food. Gaining weight, sluggish digestion, and diabetes are a few possible pathologies an Earth personality could have.
In nature, a weak earth is prone to floods. Weak riverbanks cannot hold the boundaries between the earth and other elements. When the Earth Element is strong, a person tends to be a giver and a nurturer. If the Earth element is in balance, one is able to give and receive equally without compromising one’s boundaries. When the Earth element is weak, a person experiences difficulty establishing or maintaining clear boundaries; consequently, allowing others to take advantage of them.
In Chinese Medicine, the Mind has five aspects, each of which corresponds to an Element.
The Earth element’s corresponding aspect of the Mind is called “Yi”, which in English translates into cognition or reason. When the Earth Element is dominant, a person tends to overthink and over-rationalize, which may lead to worry and pensiveness. Both are emotional aspects of the Earth element. There are seven classical emotions in CM, I’ll discuss the other five along with their respective elements later in my blog series.
The flavor associated with the Earth element is “sweet.” Craving sugar is a sign that the Earth element is weak, and can be a precursor to diabetes.
The corresponding season of the Earth element is “Late Summer.” In this season the dominant colors are orange and yellow. We celebrate the harvest, and the food of the earth. This is a unique season, which is specific to the Chinese culture. It occurs just after the summer, but before the fall. Knowing the color association of Earth can help us to choose foods that benefit the Spleen and Stomach. Anything that is orange/yellow in nature strengthens the Earth element in the body. Pumpkins, squashes and melons all grow around the same season, and all are relatively sweet. They share many characteristics with the Earth element.