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Wood is connected to the energy of spring.  It holds the creative essence of life but also encapsulates the qualities of discipline, focus, structure and vision.  In health, Wood embraces the dynamism of a very vibrant season and gives us boundless zest and vigour.  But in its desire for growth and expansion, this element, like rampant bamboo, sometimes know no bounds and it can tend to bully the other elements, dominating the balance.

Wood ElementWood can lose its flexibility and become gnarled, leading to pent up anger and unexpressed emotions.  When this is internalised, tension sets fast in the muscles, our responses may become wooden and our growth stunted.  We may lose the initiative to bend with adversity and on a mental level this might register as depression.

Each element has its representatives or officials which carry out various functions and duties.  For the Wood element these are the Liver and Gallbladder officials:

The Liver is the body’s great planner, making enzymes as required, ensuring blood clots when needed and that the body metabolises as it should.  The immune system is also connected to this official, marshalling the body’s forces against attack with foresight and careful consideration.

A hyper-sensitive immune system where the body fights the wrong invader (such as hay fever), auto-immune disorders where the body begins to attack itself (such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis) or recurrent infections from poor immunity (such as persistent colds or bronchitis) all point to a weakened Liver official.

The Gallbladder is seen as the decision-maker in the body, weighing up our choices for the best possible outcome.  In pathology, a person may appear indecisive, timid when representing their choices and/or upholding boundaries, and often unable to think clearly about which direction to take.  At the other extreme the person may be too rigid and structured in their thought processes, striving only for perfection, being overly controlling or over-bearing in various aspects of their life.  This rigidity can mean a person is overly critical of themselves or others, prone to migraine headaches (along the gallbladder pathway which runs along the side of the head) or inflexible in their mind or body, with prescriptive thinking or seized muscles and sinews respectively.

It is believed that when the officials are compromised and stressed, then the body may show various signs and symptoms of imbalance.  This is typically a combination of poor functioning of the officials’ responsibilities, a blockage along the energy channel (pathway/meridian) that relates to that specific official or one element not interacting optimally with another.  For the Liver and Gallbladder officials these may include:

  • Abdominal discomfort (acid reflux, ulcers, wind, poor digestion)
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Depression, hopelessness, despair, frustration
  • Emotional lability (such as angry outbursts, mood swings, irritability, hyper-sensitivity/prone to tears)
  • Eye problems (such as photophobia, ‘floaters’, puffiness, inflammation, blurred vision, watering)
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Immune system dysfunctions (such as hypersensitive, auto-immune disorders, low immunity…)
  • Inability to make decisions, lack of direction, procrastination
  • Menstrual conditions (such as amenorrhea, menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea, P.M.T)
  • Migraine and tension headaches
  • Muscular, sinews and joint problems (strains, spasms, stiffness, weakness, arthritis, rheumatism, sciatica, muscle cramps, tendonitis)
  • Perfectionism or overly rigid thinking
  • Poor co-ordination
  • Sexual well-being (sexual function, libido, inflammation, pain)
  • Weak or brittle nails