Five Element for Late Summer - Early Autumn

In this series I'll explain some of the philosophy of Chinese Five-Element theory. My intent is not to try to teach acupuncture, but to illustrate how Traditional Chinese Medicine (including acupuncture) can be useful for a whole host of conditions. Perhaps something will spark a thought about how acupuncture might help with something that your pet is having trouble with. Or perhaps it will help explain why I choose to treat along certain meridians.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are five elements governed by five main organ systems- Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung, and Kidney. These five elements also correspond with five seasons or time of year- spring, summer, late summer/ early fall, late fall, and winter. These elements interact with one another in a myriad of ways to help heal and, when the interaction is disturbed, to exacerbate disease. These interactions comprise a fascinating but complex school of medicine.

I’ll talk about some of the other elements at another time, but the one most applicable to early fall is Earth. Late summer into early fall is the harvest time; think fields of waving yellow wheat and stacks of orange squashes. The color associated with the Earth element is yellow. 

Earth personalities are nurturing and easy-going. Over the cycle of a lifetime, this is the time when young adults begin to settle down and raise a family. Earth types are also worriers, like the mother staying up late as her offspring carouse late into the night. 

The organs associated with Earth are the Stomach and Spleen. This last is probably the one most difficult to wrap your head around, because in the traditional medicine philosophy, Spleen doesn’t necessarily refer to the immune-regulating and blood-filtering organ, but to the gastrointestinal system (think pancreas, as if a bad translation of Chinese texts substituted the word “Spleen” for “Pancreas”). Thus, the function most associated with the Earth element is digestion. Digestive problems such as vomiting, inappetence, and other gastrointestinal upsets associate with Spleen and Stomach points. 

Other body parts of note that associate with this element are the mouth, lips, and muscles. Thus I look to the Spleen or Stomach channels as I treat animals with oral lesions or muscle injuries.

Damp is a problem for Earth animals; Damp conditions can be tenuous and sticky, and may congeal. Thus warming and drying herbs or foods may be prescribed when a problem develops.

If any of these are an issue for your pet, ask about acupuncture treatment to alleviate their symptoms and restore normal function!