Saturday, January 29, 2011

Five Element Theory and Relationships

In the last newsletter we learned about the 5 elements and the organ systems associated with each element. (if you missed the first article you can look on the right sidebar for a link)

This month we look at how each organ is assigned a set 'relationships'. Each organ has a time of day when it functions optimally, and a season of the year when it is most affected by the environment. This means  that if a problem occurs during those hours or during that season, it will alert you to an imbalance that you can address before it becomes serious - don't worry - we'll be giving some actual examples in a bit.

There are specific emotions, colors, times, body parts and foods (as well as others) for each organ. Below is a chart that will help you understand.

Elements/Organs and their relationships









Body Part


laugh joy heat summer 11am-3pm scorched millet, mutton,
ears perspiration tongue
song sympathy humid late summer 7am-11am sickly sweet rice, millet, beef,
mouth saliva muscles
METALLung Large
weeping grief dry autumn 3am-7am rotten rice,
nose mucous skin
WATER Kidney Bladder groaning fear cold winter 3pm-7pm putrid barley, beans, peas, pork ears saliva bones, teeth, urinary
WOOD Liver Gall Bladder shout anger windy spring 11pm-3am rancid wheat, chicken,
eyes tears tendons, ligaments,
nails, genitals

OK - now let's look at a real situation - see if you can tell which element is out of balance.

Fido is a dog with itchy red eyes (always worse in the spring), he barks loudly and lunges at the mailman angrily, his skin has rancid odor, he loves a treat of your leftover pasta and he wakes up scratching at 1 am. Lots of clues here - look at the chart.

Well... did you guess which element is out of balance? If you guessed Wood, very good!! This is a liver problem - the dog is displaying all the symptoms of  wood imbalance. Looking at the 'totality' of the symptoms we would address the liver through diet and pressing some of the liver points on his body (more of this later) - diet and acupressure moves the 'stuck' energy and gets it flowing again. The goal here is to ward off trouble by observing symptoms and then making corrections when it's easy to do. If we took Fido to the vet, nothing would show up on any 'tests' - but we all know instinctively that something is out of balance.

One more example (not as many clues this time!) - Molly vomits after breakfast, but not after dinner.

In this case the time is the main clue - consult the chart and see what you think. Earth?? Right! We would look at the spleen/pancreas/stomach. Stay with us - more and more will come together.

In our next installment we will look at the FIVE CONSTITUTIONS. Building on the relationships we will see certain 'types' emerge and the imbalances that normally go with each constitution.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Folk Art Pieces available from The Natural Canine

Exciting news - The Natural Canine is pleased to announce the we have exclusive dog folk art pieces available at our website.

These pieces are actually made by Marlene & I right here in Vermont. We love dog, we love art!

These are not dog toys, but rather VERY limited edition (some one-of-a-kind) collectible pieces.

And of course they are all natural! Made from Vermont woods with non-toxic water base paints and Vermont soy clear coating.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Five Elements

This article is an introduction to a different way of looking at our pet's health. As we progress, there will be practical applications and some interesting explanations about common conditions such as itching, allergies, paw licking, behavior challenges, digestion, foods, etc.

First things first - We need to start with some background information to better understand our dog's health and behavior from this alternative perspective. Let's get started.

In ancient times, long before modern 'medicine' - people relied on their senses - sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch to diagnose and treat illness. Because people were so connected to the land and their environment - early doctors began to see connections between the major forces of nature and our bodies.

This is not so unusual as we and our animals friends are very much a part of the earth.

What developed from these careful observations became known as the Five Element or Phases Theory. The five elements are:

  • Earth
  • Metal
  • Water
  • Wood
  • Fire
Each element is linked to an organ system -

  • EARTH - is linked to DIGESTION (spleen/pancreas/stomach
  • METAL - is linked to RESPIRATION and ELIMINATION (lungs/large intestine)
  • WATER - is linked to PLUMBING (kidneys/urinary bladder)
  • WOOD - is linked to TOXIC PROCESSING (liver/gall bladder)
  • FIRE - is linked to CIRCULATION (heart/small intestine)
With us so far? Here's an example - follow along....

Remember we said each element is related to an organ system?

Let's say there is a problem with the EARTH element (STOMACH) - look at the picture above and you will see the black arrow pointing left to METAL (LARGE INTESTINE) Metal follows earth in the cycle - The stomach (earth) and large intestine (metal) are part of the digestive system. In our dogs, this may show up as vomiting and diarrhea. Ha! - now we have a real life problem we can relate to.

In Western medicine the vet may prescribe a drug to slow down the digestive tract - that's one approach. But consider this - what if we were to give an herb or use acupuncture/acupressure to strengthen or boost the EARTH (STOMACH)? That's a different way to address the problem.

The whole idea of 'health' in this system is to keep a balance among the elements.

How is this done? Well, there is no magic pill or herb to fix everything - this is where the holistic approach comes in -  good diet, exercise, lifestyle, and stress management. With an understanding of the five elements we can correct problems as they come up - and most treatable at the early stages. We will start learning to use our senses (like the ancient observers) to maintain health and detect problems as soon as the imbalance starts.

As we move on in our next article, we are going to explore the Five Elements and their Relationships. Each organ is related to a time of day where it functions best, a season where it is most vulnerable - and going even deeper each organ is related to specific emotions, body parts, colors and food! This gets interesting.

The next article will be posted in about 2 weeks - stay tuned!