In the theory of the Five Elements, also known as the Five Phases, the season of Autumn is associated with the METAL element.
The Metal element symbolizes the time of the harvest, gathering in, and the beginning stages of Yin. After the Fall Equinox the weather turns cooler, the nights are now longer than the days, the climate is dry as leaves dry and fall from the trees. Coolness and darkness begin to predominate. Metal energy is contractive, moving in from all directions; we gather in the harvest, we spend more time indoors, and we may begin to become inwardly reflective and wistful. Its color is pure white or metallic chrome, reflective and clear. Metal element represents the time of older adulthood and the beginning of our senior years, when our hair turns silvery and white. Metal phase also corresponds to the direction of the West, to dusk, and to autumn.
Associated Meridians: Lungs/Large Intestines
Balanced Metal Element
A person with well-balanced Metal energy is well organized, self-disciplined, methodical, discerning, reserved, precise and conscientious. They like structure in their life.
They are most comfortable in situations when they know the rules and can succeed by following them. Metal Qi (chi or energy) bestows a deep inner strength, like ore mined from the mountains. The Metal element’s positive psycho-emotional attributes are courage, righteousness, dignity, and integrity. Metal types like definition, structure, discipline, virtue, discretion and authority. Self and others are held to the highest standards and they seek to live accordingly to reason and principle. Beauty, ceremony, and refinement are revered.
Imbalanced Metal Element
A person with Metal Qi imbalance may be grief-stricken, steeped in sadness. They may be overly critical. They may have trouble letting go, expressing emotion and intimacy. When the Metal energy is weak, there can be illnesses of the lungs or respiratory system, and frequent colds. The Lung meridian also rules the skin, so rashes, eczema, and problems with sweating can be related to Metal imbalance. Chronic constipation or diarrhea, or other bowel diseases can affect the large intestine meridian.
If a problem arises in any of the meridians there is an imbalance that affects the flow of Qi (chi). If the imbalance is corrected, the energy flow becomes regular and the organ starts functioning well. Applying essential oil blends to acupressure points can rebalance and correct the Qi pathways.
The acupressure technique is used to restore balance so that energy can flow with regularity and the organ can resume its normal function. Even though the meridians are located externally on the body, the Qi also flows internally, directly into the internal organ.
When the energy of grief is not expressed or gets congested it can become obstructed in the meridians as well as the lungs or large intestine. The energy then moves in a ascending manner instead of its natural descending manner with the full breath of “inspiration.” In the five-element cycle the state of the lungs may affect the function of the kidneys. The function of the kidneys affects the expression of the personality. The cycle is circular and an interconnected network.
Metal Element Acupressure Points
An essential oil, single oil or blend can be applied on these acupressure points independently or as an adjunct during a massage.
*Large Intestine 4 (LI4) – Also called the “Hoku point” is good for relieving many kinds of pain, as well as other discomforts. It moves Qi and releases stagnation; including constipation, headache, common cold, and pain ANYWHERE in the body.
Nasal congestion – LI-20, LI-4, LU-7
Constipation – LI-11, LI-10
Cough – LU-5 and LU-6
Common Cold – LU-7, LI-4
Phlegm in the lungs – LU-9
Shortness of breath – LU-1, LU-9, CV-17, & PC-6
Asthma – LU-9, LU-1, LI-16, CV-17, PC-6
"Tree" essential oils are terrific for the respiratory system. The limbs of the trees are similar in structure to the bronchioles of the respiratory system.
These are some of our favorite essential oils to use during this time of year:
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata)
Metal Element Benefits: Eucalyptus has a refreshing and stimulating action on the mind, helping to improve concentration. It is associated with the alleviation of grief and sorrow, as well as opening the heart and intellect while equalizing emotions. It clears the Qi (chi) and congestion, tonifies and boosts the lungs.
Precautions: Because of the high levels of 1,8-cineole, avoid use with children under 10 years of age.
Fir, Silver (Abies alba)
Metal Element Benefits: Connects the body and mind, grounding, soothing, increase and tonifies the ling Qi (chi). Used to reduce sinus issues, clear lung congestion, allergies and colds and flu.
Precautions: Old or oxidized oil should be avoided. Skin sensitization if oxidized. May cause skin irritation in the bath.
Spruce, Black (Picea mariana)
Metal Element Benefits: Black Spruce is a wonderful expectorant and an ideal use for many respiratory issues. It is an ideal remedy for many lung ailments such as asthma and bronchitis especially when used in an inhalation blend. Black spruce essential oil is also known to support the adrenal glands during times of stress and fatigue. This oil is calming, grounding and creates a centering effect for the emotions.
Precautions: Oxidized oil should be avoided and may cause skin irritation in the bath.
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
Metal Element Benefits: Cypress essential oil is used in times of transition such as career changes, moving, ending a close relationship, and times of major spiritual changes or decisions. By nature, it is very grounding and cleansing. Cypress has an affinity for strengthening overburdened systems and restores calming. Also, clearing congestion in the respiratory system during the common stresses of autumn and winter.
Precautions: Non-toxic, non-irritant when used in moderation.
Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium)
Metal Element Benefits: Manuka helps keep infections at bay: including colds, flu, fever, and muscle pain. It is excellent to diffuse as inhalation therapy as an expectorant for congestion in the nasal passages and respiratory infections; coughs, sinusitis, and whooping cough. It has disinfectant properties useful against bacteria and infectious diseases.
The Maori people as an important part of their natural medicine used Manuka. It is believed that both Manuka and Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) were used by Captain Cook to make a tea drink, thus given the name Tea Tree.
Precautions: Non-toxic, non-irritant when used in moderation.
Essential Oil Applications strengthen the respiratory and digestive systems and can be used in
diffusing, nasal inhaler, room or shower spritzer, bath, massage or body oil.
* Nasal inhaler: Saturate the felt wick of a nasal inhaler with a blend of fir (Abies alba), cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata). Substitute eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) with spruce (Picea mariana) for children under 10 years of age.
Application: Inhale as needed to keep sinuses clear.
* Shower Spritzer: In a 2oz. glass spray bottle, mix 15 drops of an essential oil blend into 1 tsp. of vegetable glycerin, shake well, and then add the liquid component of water and/or hydrosol.
Suggested blend for a shower spritzer: 5 drops of each; fir (Abies alba), black spruce (Picea mariana), and manuka (Leptospermum scoparium).
Application: Spray liberally into the corners of the shower before turning on the hot water.
* Bath: Mix 4-6 drops of essential oils into 1 tsp. of carrier oil (organic sweet almond, sunflower, sesame or safflower oil), vegetable glycerin, or aloe vera gel, and then add to the bath water.
Suggested bath blend: 2 drops of each: cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), black spruce (Picea mariana), and manuka (Leptospermum scoparium).
* Compress: Mix 3-5 drops of essential oils and 1 tsp. of carrier oil, vegetable glycerin or aloe vera gel, and apply to upper back.
Suggested application: apply 2 drops of each: manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and fir (Abies alba) in 1 tsp. of carrier oil, on the upper back and then apply a warm towel over the area. You can also apply a dry towel on top to keep in the warmth. As it cools you can replace with another warm towel 2-3X.
May you enjoy a healthy autumn season!