Chinese Medicine Wheel

I love wheels~

Wheels represent how things begin and end on the same note and go through a cycle of birth, growth, harvest, and death. They represent the cyclical nature of things and reflect the motion of our lives, our experiences, and even our relationships.

The planets, the sun, the moons, atoms, cells, our eyes, dream catchers, marbles, and lots of other things are circular as well. Wheels, or circles, are also used in alchemical grids, they compose the structure of the fruit and the tree of life, and have a rounded nature, just like the spiraling golden ratio.

Wheels are also used in transportation, they are plates, bottle caps, steering wheels, wreaths, door knobs, soccer balls, oranges, compact discs; many objects in our daily lives we often bypass. Circles are often involved with motion, support, action, and creation.

It is easy to see that much of what we create as a race involves many things of a circular nature! As is the nature of things, as my professor would say. 🙂

Because I love wheels and circular things so much, I thought I would share the Chinese Medicine Wheel. On one part, it is because I think it is a very important tool for learning about oneself, and on the other, because it is a kind of medicine I think has an integral part in understand our balance of yin and yang, the health of our minds and bodies, our personalities, and the way that we interact with the world.

Interestingly enough, my professor stated that America has the fire sickness and that the best thing we can do for ourselves is balance our elements and understand how it affects our bodies, our dietary needs, and behaviors.

(My professor’s favorite example was angry drivers, haha.)

First, here is a well-rounded look at the Chinese Medicine Wheel:

By Tom K Brink
Image courtesy of Tom K Brink

I just want to highlight the irony of Fire and note that per Medical News Today (as well as my Mosby’s Pathology book and various other sources), that heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S. 1 out 4 people experience heart attack, stroke, angina (chest pain), arrhythmias, and heart failure; this is 23.4% of total deaths in the country. That’s a big deal!

You will see that the wheel is composed of five elements; moving in a clock-wise direction.

You will also notice that there is a small block of information belonging to each element. Each describes what the element controls and promotes and what domains it specifically represents according season, color, and emotion.

This brings me to the star of arrows at the center of the wheel, which you always start according to your most dominant element (and there can be more than one).

For example, we will start at fire… fire generates earth by controlling metal.

See how the first arrow demonstrates the statement? Then how metal promotes water by controlling wood? And how metal goes to wood and so on and so forth? These are what I would call their elemental attributes, meaning, if you have a lot of fire in your wheel, metal or water would be keys for balancing it.

And how does one balance their elements?

Traditionally, practitioners of Chinese Medicine would (and will) usually prescribe herbal tea, acupuncture, an element-oriented diet, and a healthy dose of meditation, Qi Gong, or Tai Chi! (Eastern practitioners will typically look at your health first through your elemental wheel, determining whether you are more yin and yang and what happens to be your dominant element. Though there are Western practices assimilated into modern-Eastern medicine, traditional-Eastern medicine is still strong.)

You will also notice that each element has two sets of organs.

Those on the inside of the circle are Yin attributes (introverted) which transform and that the outside are Yang attributes (extroverted) which transport. Personally, I relate it to a matter of thinking vs. doing.

Water and metal dominate my wheel which means that I am a very introverted person, but because I live in a fire-based society, have had to learn how to communicate audibly and effectively, meaning that I’ve had to assimilate and blend in a lot of yang.

I have also noticed that a lot of my work at current has been in the Metal, Water, and Fire domains. I’ve had to cut down on particularly nasty nightshade vegetables and spicy foods and have had to up my intake of herbal teas for digestion; I have been using Ginger Aid from Traditional Medicinals (which is a quality brand, I might add).

(I could ramble on about tea brands I don’t like but I’ll save that for another time.)

As my professor noted, there are certain foods that belong to certain elements and one of the first ways to eat balanced meals is to increase our intake of foods that belong to elements we need more of and to reduce foods that belong to elements we need less of.

I consider them adjustments rather than complete changes because Spirit knows there are some things I just can’t sacrifice… Like chocolate.

Here are some excellent examples from The Spruce Eats:

Red/Fire/Heart Food

Chinese people believe that consuming food that is red in color is good for your heart, small intestine, and brain.

Foods that fall into this category include carrots, tomato, sweet potato, strawberry, chili, red beans, red pepper, jujube, goji berry, dragon fruit, apple, brown sugar, and anything else that is a shade of red.

Green/Wood/Liver Food

If you consume green-colored food, it’s good for your liver, gallbladder, eyes, muscle, and joints.

The list of green foods could be endless. Some of the main ingredients used in Chinese food include mung bean, Chinese leeks, wasabi, and all the green vegetables and fruits.

Yellow/Earth/Spleen Food

According to this theory, yellow food is good for your digestive system and spleen.

Again, yellow is a common color in food. You can eat things like sweet or baby corn, yellow sweet potato, taro, oats, pumpkin, butternut squash, yellow pepper, soybeans, egg yolk, bean curd, ginger, orange, star fruit, lemon, pineapple, papaya, peanut, walnut, honey, and more.

White/Metal/Lung Food

If you eat white-colored food, it is supposed to benefit your lungs, large intestine, nose and respiratory system, and skin.

Common white foods include rice and noodles, both of which are staples in Chinese cuisine. The list also includes lotus seed, daikon, onion, garlic, bitter melon, winter melon, broccoli, bamboo shoots, white wood ear, milk, tofu, soy milk, Asian pear, banana, almond, white sesame, rock sugar, and more

Black/Water/Kidney Food

Black and blue foods are reportedly good for your kidneys, bones, ears, and reproductive organs.

Black or dark blue foods aren’t as numerous, but the list includes some great options. Look for ingredients like wood ear, seaweed, shiitake mushrooms, eggplant, black beans, raisins, blueberry, black grapes, black sesame, black vinegar, tea, sweet bean sauce, and more.

I love me some seaweed snacks; I always share a couple of small sheets with my cat because it has a lot of great benefits for him; in addition to that he loves them. Because I could ramble on about cats and how imperative their health is too, I’ll just shamelessly drop another link….

Why All Cats Need Seaweed

Anyhow, it can be noted that food color has a lot to do with what element on the wheel we are feeding and it can be noted that the same can be said for the chakras!

If you want to feed your heart, send it a little love by eating green stuff and filling it with intent while you prepare it. That is a lovely magical way to feed your soul and your body simultaneously.

The next post has the questionnaire and the elements sheet that my professor passed out. In it, I explain how the questionnaire works and what it means to your wheel, and I will explain the elements sheet and how it helps identify the elements in your chart according to your personality.

After that, the information is yours to play with!


Elemental Questionnaire and Characteristics

Here are a couple of fun and intelligent articles that highlight a lot of personal things I’ve found for my own dietary considerations:

Chinese Medicine Diet by Margaret

Anti-inflammatory Diet by Emma

Please not that this article is not a medical replacement: it is not intended to recommend, prescribe, or diagnose any situations or conditions you might have and is not meant to replace your healthcare regime or physician. It is also important to know that none of this is a cure-all, and that if you have any health issues, it is important to consult your doctor or a nutritionist before you take on any specific diet or make any changes to it.

I do not hold any current medical accreditation and should be noted that my information comes from the team at the Healing Arts Institute as I am a student for Massage Therapy due to graduate in October in Fort Collins, CO.

If you have any questions or comments, either contact me directly or leave a comment below.

Cheers~ :}

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