Wood element overview

In the Five Element cycle the Wood phase is the energy of spring; the energy of growth and change.

Spring is the perfect time energetically for setting new intentions for the upcoming year.  If we have followed nature's way and taken a winter rest, we emerge into spring “raring to go,” with clear vision and a sense of purpose. This is the time to look ahead and make new plans, formulate new ideas, make decisions, and determine our direction for the coming year - perhaps “spring clean” our lives.

In the body, Wood (represented by the Liver and Gallbladder channels) mediates the storage, detoxification and circulation of blood; flexibility and strength of connective tissue (i.e., tendons and ligaments); vitality of the eyes; healthy digestion (of fats); and balance and coordination. It also informs our dreams and imagination, decision-making capacity, and initiative.


Tree - 5 elements

A tree is a perfect illustration of the Wood element.  A healthy tree has strength and flexibility and is well rooted.  When a tree stops flourishing, has weak roots, or is withering, it isn’t receiving the nourishment it needs from the earth, rain or sun.  We too can similarly be affected by an  imbalance in our Wood element in terms of the impact on our movement and flexibility, our posture (trunk), and feeling unrooted in our bodies.

planning - wood element


Are you known for being a kind-hearted soul with clear goals & plans?

The energy of the Wood phase encourages us to harness our resilience, perseverance, creativity, and imagination. Someone with healthy Wood energy will have spark, an interest in life, have a vision and feel able to plan and make decisions. 

On the other hand, Wood is also the energy of frustration and stress.  A person may feel a noticeable presence of anger or irritation.  They may feel inflexible, or find it hard to plan & make decisions, feel confused and not be able to see ‘the wood for the trees’. 

The determination and passion of Wood can easily change into impulsiveness and recklessness, overbearing and aggressive behavior, or rigidity and paranoia. Or can manifest in apathy or resignation.

If this is you make sure to keep your Qi moving, incorporate plenty of exercise into your life & rest deeply – its important for you to get plenty of sleep (even if your mind says you can do without it!)

Brisk walking - wood element


In our bodies, Wood energy is represented by the Liver and Gallbladder system. 

In Chinese Medicine theory, the Liver is involved in digestion and detoxification, acts as the storehouse for the blood, and ensures that both Blood and Qi (life force energy) can flow smoothly around the body. 

If the Liver organ-meridian system is out of balance, the Liver Qi may become stagnant or sluggish.  You may find yourself getting stressed easily, perhaps accompanied by tightness in the neck and shoulders and/or a tendency to clench your jaw or grind your teeth.

You might also become irritable, prone to a bad temper, notice that you’re not as decisive as usual or are more likely to over-indulge in food or drink.

To maintain a healthy Wood element we need to keep our Qi moving ! Regular stretching, such as yoga, and brisk walking helps ease out tight, tense muscles and allows the free-flow of qi throughout the whole body including tight areas where there is restricted circulation and knots. 

Wood elements love a fast-paced life. Try to take some time to slow down and balance your work so that you do not need to go all-out all the time.

Try practicing Qigong (a blend of moving meditation and exercise) for the same reason. 

green vegetables


Let Food Be Thy Medicine!

The taste associated with the Wood element is sour, eat plenty of green-coloured foods (especially dark green leafy vegetables) and sour flavours like lemon juice as these are traditionally considered good for the liver in TCM.  

Focus on complex carbs like legumes, brown rice, quinoa, and high protein snack (nuts, yogurt, cheese) for a slow sustained energy release. Olive Oil, lemon juice and cayenne pepper can be made as a salad dressing which gently stimulates the Liver Qi. 

When you need a pick-me-up, reach for peppermint tea; it’s traditionally used in TCM to soothe the liver and aid its natural detoxification processes. 

Foods to avoid include sugars, alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

Shiatsu - wood element


Suggestions for living in harmony with the spring season

  • Begin  Your Day Early. 
    Go for a brisk walk.  Feel the sunshine pull you up and out, like the plants and animals. 
  • Begin  New Things - at home, at work, and in yourself. 
    In this season when nature reinvents itself, we too can see people and situations with new eyes. Be creative. Make things, do things ! 
  • Move.  The Liver needs movement and so do you; so get outside and take long walks in nature, observe the changes going on all around you, and invite change in. 
  • Eat Well. Spring is the time to start a healthier diet and flush out the toxins so that the Liver can do its job more effectively. Enjoy the abundance of fresh foods that are beginning to come to market.
  • Practice Forgiveness. Grudges and resentments are indigestible and can do damage to Liver energy. Practice forgiveness.
  • Come and have a Shiatsu ! This is a great way to get your Qi moving. Shiatsu is a dynamic from of bodywork which harmonizes and supports your overall energy base as well as addressing particular element imbalances within your body which could be manifesting on a physical and/or emotional level.