A Reflection on Color and the Five Elements of Chinese Medicine

While riding in to the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic today I noticed the last few colorful leaves on the trees and began to think about how color affects me. Red always lifts my spirits. I wear my red socks on days that I need a mental and spiritual lift—red socks are good Feng Shui. Red is associated with the Heart system, as are the emotion of joy and the element of fire. I think of the joy that I felt as I looked at those leaves as they blew in the breeze of the cold front coming.

When I see yellow, I feel more mellow and comforted. I think of the time that I spent in Santa Fe when I was in acupuncture school and how different I felt living among the reddish-yellow earth there than I feel here in the green-blue of the Appalachians. The color associated with the Spleen system is yellow, the element is earth, and the “emotion” associated with the Spleen system is over-thinking, or worry.

White is the combination of all colors and creates a blank slate for me as I wake up each morning—something upon which I can write my day and my life. It is associated with the Lung system, whose emotion is grief and element is metal. There is sadness in each day, some more than others. It will be sad to see those last colorful leaves let go and fall. Letting go is one of the things that is associated with the Lung system. The easier we find it to let go of things in life, the easier it will be to let go of the last breath.

Black is lack of color. The Kidney system is associated with black and fear and the element is water. The task of living out the curriculum of our lives is associated with the Kidney system and its function in the process of sending out essence (water) to the different organ systems, which will shape us as we face the fears we have concerning living our lives to the fullest.

And finally green—my favorite. Green gives me hope. It is associated with the Liver system and is the wood element. Green brings to mind things growing, which happens in the spring of the year and is hopeful. The emotion associated with the Liver system is frustration and irritation. I keep tabs on my frustration level by paying attention to how much I am talking to the traffic around me—the fact that traffic is keeping me from moving as quickly as I would like through life. What I seem to forget is that I am part of the traffic—so….am I frustrated with myself?

As I have aged I have moved away from wearing the browns and beiges—not that they don’t look good on me, but color brings liveliness to my life. What color do you have on today?


About Author

Junie Norfleet L.Ac.

Comments (1)

  1. CyntHia  / Reply

    Thank you for your article on color! I did not know that color affects both our physical health and wellbeing.
    As an artist and an avid fashionista I love colors and never been intimidated with them. They just lift me up. No wonder! There are healthy and healing reasons!

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