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

The Metal Element is linked to autumn, the time of rising Yin. Metal is about connection, inspirational quality and purity. Autumn is considered to be the time of winding down, getting together a storehouse ready to see you through the winter. If you do not get the reserves together in autumn, then it will be a very difficult winter to get through. It is also a time of reflection when one looks back and perhaps takes stock of things and issues that have happened in the past. It can be a period when a person may paint or put their thoughts on paper and want to leave a more permanent record to pass on to their children and family. This can all sound a little bit sombre, but it is not all like that at all. Autumn is also the time when nature has a last burst of colour and energy, as the trees and plants give an exhibition of wonderful hues:

Autumn in New England brandishes the changes of the season. Leaves turn vibrant colors, signifying the point of a cycle wherein all things begin to conserve and store themselves inside for nourishment, while externally life seems to be fading. (Connelly, D.M. 1975, p.64)

The related emotion for this Element is grief. Those who experience a Metal imbalance may lose their judgement about when to let go and will often suffer from symptoms such as diarrhoea or constipation. The latter extreme can manifest in the Mind as an inability to let go and look forward; this person will always be thinking of what has gone before and perhaps what might have been. Like trees in autumn, they need to release their fruit and let it drop to the ground. What they are doing is hanging on, and this fruit is rotting and causing them an imbalance.

It is very true that this time of the year is a period for reflection, and we may all find ourselves looking back and contemplating whether the year has lived up to our expectations. It is very hard not to dwell on the past, but this is really wasted energy unless we can change our perspective of those events to move forward. What we need to do is look to the future and be positive in our attitudes, which is sometimes easier said than done.

Metal is attributed with discernment and quality and also that of purity; this can be likened to the rich minerals and ore that are found within the earth, which in turn can be processed to extract precious metals such as gold. These types of qualities in a person are something very special to have. They will come across, perhaps, as a perfectionist or as someone who wants things done properly and in order. They will likely be outspoken about their beliefs and have very high ethical and moral views:

When minerals or ore are purified in intense heat, they give us the most precious substance, such as gold and diamonds. Yet often not only heat is needed for this process, but pressure, intense pressure that forces them to contract. The humorous remark that a diamond is just a piece of coal is perfectly accurate. They are both the same mineral i.e. carbon, yet one has been under heat and pressure and contracted infinitely more than the other. Similarly, air in our lungs changes under pressure; some oxygen is removed, the air we breathe out is condensed. (Hermann, C-M. 2000, p.107) 

Air is also linked with the Element of Metal, and obviously, this is one of the greatest gifts that we have, as without it there would be nothing. Air is what gives us life and vitality and what feeds our lungs. We must be continually looking for that clean, fresh air that we require to develop and go forward. We do not want to become bogged down with impure and stale air, which can be likened to the old memories and feelings from our past that may stop us progressing.

As we have discussed, a Metal Element is very pure and inspirational, someone who is organised and straightforward. As Earth relates to the mother, Metal is associated with the father, which speaks of authority and respect. This CF is likely to see things as cut and dried and would not want to see a ‘do not care, do it tomorrow’ type of attitude. You could sum it up by saying that you know where you stand with a Metal Element. Therefore, a challenge to someone of this Element would be disorganisation and irresponsibility; they would find it very difficult to tolerate scruffiness. Of course, as we have seen with each of the Elements, an imbalance could result in the other exaggeration, where someone could lose their self-esteem and become completely unkempt. 



When we focus on the Metal Element, we need to look at the two Officials of the Lung, known as the ‘Official Who Receives the Pure Qi from the Heavens’ and the Large Intestine, which is recognised as the ‘Official of Drainage and Dregs’. These Officials are interrelated, as one brings goodness and vitality into the Body and the other expels the waste and bi-products from the Body: ‘The functions of the Officials of the Metal Element are in many ways the easiest to follow; they share a great many similarities with the physical functions of their equivalent organs in Western physiology. (Worsley, J.R. 1998, p.14.1) 


The Lung is of the greatest importance to us. It is the first sign of life when we are born, and it is also the last sign when we pass away. It takes the energy from the outside of the body to the inside. It acquires what sustenance it needs from the air it has inhaled and then expels what it does not need when it exhales. The Lung Official then circulates this vital energy throughout the Body, Mind and Spirit. It breathes fresh air and life into our whole being, and it also gets rid of the stale and tainted air that resides within us. However, we do seem to take even the act of breathing for granted. We have to eat, drink and breathe to survive, but we would soon panic if we could not find some food or water to consume. And yet we can go for days without this nourishment, but we can only survive for a matter of minutes without air.

Do we take much notice of the air that we take into our lungs? As a society we are always polluting what we take in. We inhale cigarettes, either by choice or secondarily by the environment that we find ourselves in. We are forever breathing in pollution from cars and factories, and yet we often do not seem to think twice about the consequences. If, however, we eat one too many cream cakes, then it is as if the world has come to an end! Diving was a regular hobby of mine and, despite not participating in a dive for a few years, I keenly remember the renewed sense of appreciation it gave me for the capacity of my lungs:  

As soon as he leaves the surface and descends, a diver is exposed to an increasing partial pressure of nitrogen. At the same time the effects of nitrogen narcosis begin. At shallow depths the effects are mild, but as he descends the effects increase, altering his awareness of events and his own behaviour. The danger in nitrogen narcosis lies mainly in the effect it has on the diver’s awareness. Like a drunk who refuses to believe he has had too much to drink, a diver with nitrogen narcosis may not accept that there is anything the matter with him. (Sport Diving 1991, p.100)

The Lung Official is crucial to throwing away rubbish as it expels the carbon dioxide that builds up in our bodies. This pollutant is harmful and deadly, and it is essential that it is removed from our systems.


The other Official associated with the Metal Element is the Large Intestine. The Large Intestine is the ‘Official of Drainage and Dregs’. It is responsible for getting rid of unwanted material that can cause blockages and problems when things are not running smoothly. Of course, this also applies to the Mind and Spirit, as if things are allowed to build up and are not cleared out on a regular basis, then they will rot and become stale. This can lead to the Mind and Spirit becoming clogged up and not able to move forward. 

This Official is the dustman for all of the other Officials. When it is working properly and on time, then the rubbish is cleared away, and everything can flow efficiently. If we think back a few decades to the refuse collector’s strikes in the UK, we can remember the devastation that was caused as the rubbish began to build up in the streets for many weeks. The danger of disease became very serious, and eventually, society would have ground to a halt. This is what happens to the Mind, Body and Spirit if this Official is not functioning correctly – everything will seize up and stop working. Even when it starts performing as it should, there will be a backlog to clear up. Therefore, a complete balance may take some time to achieve.

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


Anon. (1991) Sport Diving: The British Sub-Aqua Club Diving Manual. London: Hutchinson

Connelly, D.M. (1975) Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements. Columbia: The Centre for Traditional Acupuncture, Inc.

Herrmann, C-M. (2000) The Five Elements Volume I: The Movement of Life Through Body, Mind and Spirit. Coventry: Paul Coughlin Ltd.

Worsley, J.R. Proffesor (1998) The Five Elements and the Officials Volume III

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