Extract from Facial Enhancement Acupuncture: Clinical Use and Application by Paul Adkins

The Earth Element is linked to late summer, the time of declining yang. Traditionally, it is seen as the central pivot for the other Elements: ‘The exceeding beauty of the earth, in her splendour of life, yields a new thought with every petal.’ (Jefferies, R. 2010, p.64)

An Earth Element is a person who is used to serving others. It is something they do without complaint, and they are at their happiest when they are helping people with one thing or another. This rushing around looking after other people could lead to a feeling of emptiness or being unfulfilled in one’s self because all of their energy and time is taken up by other people. This lack of fulfilment may manifest itself in an Earth Element as an eating disorder – a need to eat in order to give themselves some attention. Although they would be eating, it would not necessarily be for the reasons of nutrition, but more than likely as a need to do something for themselves. This would probably lead to excessive eating and digestion problems, with a feeling of being bloated – an Earth Element may show signs of heaviness or lethargy.

Another sign of an imbalance in an Earth Element is for them to go to extremes of one form or another. They may become obsessed with cleanliness or with how they look, or they may go completely the opposite way and let their appearance and standards go altogether, not taking any interest in themselves at all. For some, these feelings go back to when they were children, and their mother was always making sure that they were constantly clean, neat and tidy.

Of course, if this nurture was lacking in childhood, it can lead to a constant search for this kind of attention. When we understand this, it is not hard to see how the emotion associated with Earth is that of sympathy. This need can be excessive, or there can be a complete lack of compassion.

We are all made up of the Five Elements, and although you may not consider your patient’s primary CF to be Earth, you may recognise a little of this Element in their make-up. For example, they may feel that they always take on other people’s problems or worry about others and what might happen if they do not help them. There is often a fear of letting others down and, for an Earth Element, this can feel like they are carrying a large weight across their shoulders, which stops them from walking upright and grinds them down. It is important for those with an Earth CF to realise that they can still care about people, but they need to take time to look after themselves too.



The Earth Element is all about nourishment and nurturing, about taking onboard food and digesting and distributing it around the body. This is done by the two Officials, the Stomach and the Spleen. As well as nourishing the Body, we must also look after the Mind and Spirit equally.


We must always be looking to digest as much knowledge as we can to keep the brain as active as possible. By absorbing this information, we are making ourselves feel secure and able to cope with problems. So, it is understandable that when an Earth Element is out of balance, this can also affect the Mind. There will, of course, be the more obvious physical symptoms, but it will affect the Mind in similar ways to the Body. When the latter is not working correctly, the Stomach can feel knotted up and not able to receive any more nourishment. It is in this same way that the Mind and the Spirit can feel overwhelmed and unable to take any more in. It can become confused and similarly discard information to the Stomach, rejecting things when it is not right. These are all symptoms which demonstrate that both the physical and mental aspects of an Earth Element are not in balance. 

The Stomach is referred to as the ‘Official of Rotting and Ripening Food and Drink’; it digests the food that it receives and also controls the creation of waste by-products. We have observed that when something is out of balance, it can affect the Mind as well as the Body. Someone with a Stomach imbalance may have a very vacant look about them; they are unable to digest any facts or information, it will have to be condensed and fed to them in small sections so that they can take these facts on board. If too much information is thrown at them they will show signs of confusion and also anxiety.


The products processed by the Stomach, either nutritious or waste, are transported throughout the body by the ‘Official of Transportation and Distribution’ – the Spleen. If there is a breakdown or imbalance in these Officials, then the whole cycle of creation and distribution breaks down, thus creating problems throughout the whole Body and Mind. Both the Stomach and Spleen are integral to the wellbeing of all of the other Officials throughout the body. In his book ‘In the Footsteps of the Yellow Emperor,’ the author refers to ancient Chinese beliefs that the Stomach and Spleen Officials should be strengthened as a basis for all other treatments. (Eckman, P. 1996, p.78) If the distribution system is not functioning smoothly then food and by-products will not be distributed, and they will rot and cause blockages throughout the system, these Officials must be allowed to transport and distribute efficiently to maintain an even balance:

Some readers may think that the image of a road haulage system does not do justice to the wisdom and beauty of this system of medicine, but in truth there is no better example from our daily lives than this. When food has been harvested, stored, or brought to market, it has to be taken to where it is needed as soon as possible or it will rot. Exactly the same applies within the body, mind and spirit. (Worsley, J.R. 1998, p.13.7)

As with the Stomach, similar distress can manifest itself when the Official of the Spleen is imbalanced. The Spleen is the transporter and if this function is not working smoothly, then worry, and stress can set in, which can cause as much of a problem as a physical slow down or blockage in the Body.

From my studies of the Earth Element and its Officials, it has become clear that they are integral to the efficient running and maintenance of our Mind, Body and Spirit. The Stomach is the furnace that keeps our engines well stoked and full of power and energy – both for our physical wellbeing and also to keep our Mind and Spirit alert. The Spleen provides the means for transporting this energy around our system to all the areas that require this stimulation. It seems evident that we would not be able to carry on with a healthy and rewarding existence if either of these Officials were not working correctly. Therefore, it must be in all of our interests to maintain a balance here before we can even look at other areas of our wellbeing.

© Copyright 2013 Paul Adkins Lic.Ac., BA(Hons), 1st Dan, FEA, MFHT, MCAUK


Eckman, P. (1996) In the Footsteps of the Yellow Emperor. San Francisco: Cypress Book Company, Inc.

Jefferies, R. (2010) The Life of the Fields. New York: Cambridge University Press

Worsley, J. R. (1998) Classical Five-Element Acupuncture Volume III: The Five Elements and the Officials. J. R. & J.B Worsley

%d bloggers like this: