What is Wood Element?
The Wood Element is one of the five elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory (TCM). The five elements are: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood, as shown in the diagram below. They are inter-related; they support each other in a clock-wise direction. Therefore, if one element is out of balance, it will affect the other four elements; and when one element is weak or imbalanced, others have to take on the extra load to compensate.
In the last Blog, we talked about Water Element and its meridian stretches. Water supports wood. Now, we are in the Spring Season which belongs to the Wood Element. Our Liver organ and Gallbladder organ belong to the wood element. The functions of the wood element are distribution and storage. The liver purifies and stores blood; it also distributes blood when the body needs it. The gallbladder produces and stores bale; it releases it when the body needs the bale to break down oily foods that we consume in our diet.
Liver is the Yin organ and Gallbladder is the Yang organ, and their meridian channels run on the side of the body. Most of the liver meridian line runs on the interior side of our legs, and most of the Gall Bladder meridian line runs on the posterior side of our legs and sides of the body.
The Liver meridian consists of 14 major acupressure points starting at the lateral side of the big toenail and going up between the big toe and the second toe to the medial side of the ankle. It runs on the posterior side of the tibia bone to a point two third of the way up the leg, then it curves away from the bone towards the medial end of the knee crease. From there, it runs up the inside of the thigh through the genital, the groin and the lateral abdomen to the fourth inter-costal space counting from bottom of the rib-cage.
The Gall Bladder meridian channel starts at the lateral corner of the eye and travels down to the jaw and the side of the head, wraps around the ear, then the occipital ridge. From there, it travels down the upper border of the trapezium to the midpoint of the shoulder and goes underneath the outline of the scapula to the armpit and travels side of the ribcage to the waistline and hip. It keeps travelling down the lateral side of the buttock and descends through the midline of the side of the upper and lower leg and then through the front of the lateral malleolus, then along the 4th metatarsal and finishes on the side of the 4th small toe. With 44 acupressure points in total, the Gall Bladder meridian is the third longest meridian line.
The tissues that wood element governs are our tendons, ligaments, joints and muscles. The sense organ for the wood element is our eyes. Its physical manifestations are the finger nails, hands and feet. The skin colour for the wood element is green or yellow when the organ is out of balance, body odour is a rancid smell, and the body fluid for the wood element is tears. A damaging climate for the wood element is wind.
The time of day for the wood element is between 11pm at night and 3am in the morning. The yang organ ‘gall bladder’ occupies the time between 11pm and 1am, and the yin organ ‘liver’ occupies the time between 1am and 3am in the morning. The favourite colour for the wood element is Green and its favourite taste is sour. The positive emotion for the wood element is humour and patience; the negative emotion is anger and impatience. When ones wood element is out of balance, the person tends to shout and have clipped voice.
The body areas that associate with wood elements are joints, knees and especially the right shoulder. In general, the wood element looks after the muscular system of the body.
Nurturing foods for the wood element are wheat, leafy green veggies such as broccoli, spinach, celery and cabbage. Foods that can activate Liver energy are basil, bay leaf, leek, onion, coffee, cabbage, black pepper, garlic ginger and peppermint. Foods that can calm liver yang energy from rising are celery, lettuce, seaweed, rhubarb, watercress, spinach, lemons, apples bananas and yogurt. Foods that can relax or soften liver are black sesame, celery, lettuce, plum, tomatoes and apple cider vinegar. Foods that can nourish liver blood are plum, kiwi fruits, cherry, grapes, apples sesame seed, sunflower seeds, beetroot and small quantities of red wine.
Exercises that can help to strengthen the wood element are gardening, swimming, walking, Tai Chi, meridian stretches and meditation.
Regular shiatsu massage can also help the body to invigorate the flow of liver energy, relax the liver organ and brings the wood element back to harmony.
Benefits of the Meridian Stretches
Regular practice of Meridian stretches can increase your muscle tone, body flexibility, and immunity. Meridian stretches can also improve blood circulation, smooth the fl ow of energy in the twelve meridian channels and nourish the internal organs.
Gall Bladder Meridian stretches
Sit with your legs flat and straight on the ground. Cross your right leg over your left knee, with the left elbow resting against the outer side of your right knee to create a restraint. Turn your body to look over your right shoulder as far as you can until you can feel the stretch on your right hip and thigh. Repeat on the opposite side.
Liver Meridian stretches
Spread your legs far apart as possible, like performing a 180 degree split. Reach your arms on one side all the way until you can touch your toes and feel the stretch in your inner thigh and the side of your ribcage. Repeat on the opposite side.