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!