The Earth element in Chinese medicine corresponds to what we might think of as the ending of each season and is related to the concept of transformation. Although the Earth element is often associated with late Summer or Indian Summer, it also occurs in late Winter, late Spring and late Fall.
In other words, as the end of each of the traditional four seasons approaches, the “heavenly” (cosmic) seasonal energy goes back to the Earth for transformation into the energy of the next season.
According to Chinese medicine,
“…its influence manifests for 18 days at the end of each of the four seasons and it does not pertain to any season of its own…” – The Classic of Categories (1624) by Zhang Jie Bin.
Earth is not unlike the center of the compass. It is a pivot point, so to speak, around which the four seasons and the other four elements spin. But, occurring four times a year for 18 days each, these periods totaling 72 days and which bear similar characteristics are referred to as the Earth energetic season or fifth season of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
The next Earth energetic period is from January 18 to February 4. An Earth imbalance creates any one of the following group of conditions affecting the skin:
- enlarged pores and
- lymph circulation problems.
PHYTO5 has created a very specific skin and hair care line designed to help address these imbalances.
Unlike Wood and Fire elements in TCM defined by a rising and peaking yang, and unlike Metal and Water elements with a rising and peaking yin, Earth represents a balance between yin and yang energies. As such, the Earth element represents warm, stable, grounded, loving, emotional characteristics. It is nurturing, comforting, calm, solid and stable. Earth is all about family, community and gathering, eating now and gathering, collecting, holding and storing for later.
Earth energy type people are sentimental and maintain their attachments to other people, things, and places. Earth types tend to savor the sweetness of life and being human and they find enjoyment in all the comforts and pleasures of life. But, as with each element, Earth types can become imbalanced and demonstrate physical and emotional challenges.
According to TCM, Earth is about ingestion and absorption, not just of food but of ideas and emotions. An Earth element imbalance in the body is the result of ingesting too much, or its opposite–stagnation, the slowing down of chi energy flow in the body, or an outright inability to consume or subsequently digest ideas, emotions, or food.
Earth types are thoughtful but can worry too much. They can feel sympathy, deeply allowing them to feel connected to others, but these same emotions taken too far can cause them to feel stuck, unable to act or think clearly, with an over-dependence on others for their opinions, judgment and advice.
Earth types are quite good at maintaining family and friend relationships. They love situations that require them to work with others. They enjoy teamwork and collaborative work environments.
Well-balanced Earth people usually have a healthy complexion, soft facial features, sturdy and balanced body frame, exhibiting an earthiness to their appearance.
The organs most closely associated with Earth are the spleen and the stomach and the digestive system as a whole. The Discussion of Prescriptions from the Golden Chest (c. AD 220) by Zhang Zhong Jing says:
“During the last period of each season, the Spleen is strong enough to resist pathogenic factors.”
Earth also has influence over the pancreas, the large muscles of the body on the upper arms and lower legs, the abdomen, the middle back, the lymph system and the diaphragm. Of course, proper lymph circulation is important in keeping a strong immune system and a healthy complexion.
The Earth periods are the best time to address Earth conditions. They are also the times when Earth energy can make existing Earth imbalance in people worse, therefore balancing Earth energy during the Earth periods with Earth treatments and products is highly recommended, particularly for Earth type people.
Maciocia, Giovanni. The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text. Edinburgh: Elsevier, 2015. Print.
Bridges, Lillian. Face Reading in Chinese Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 2012. Print.