March 7, 2017 Catherine Hollingsworth, L.Ac.

What’s Your Element?

Here at Red Sage Acupuncture Center, I am focused on the Five Element acupuncture tradition. If you are just discovering acupuncture, you may not know there are different styles. But many people who come to me say that my treatments are quite different than what they have received from other acupuncturists. It’s a special tradition and one I am proud to practice.

What makes my treatments different is that I treat you based on your constitutional element. You might think of the five elements as five energetic types.

Elements as Energies

Your primary or constitutional element is your home base energetic. It relates to the themes you tend to struggle with in your life, as well as the type of symptoms you tend to get. Healing that is delivered through your element is the deepest healing I have access to. I am often amazed not only at the efficiency of this healing method, but also the depth that it reaches, and the profound personal changes that it brings.

So, in my clinic, the first and most important question I must answer with each new patient is: what is your element? In the Chinese system, the five elements or five personality types are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.

It takes time to determine each patient’s primary element, because we each express our element in a unique way, and we each have some of all five elements. This is why I usually recommend that new patients begin with five treatments.

I have noticed some element patterns through experience. See if you recognize yourself in one of these. Note that these are general sketches, and we each have all of the elements. But one will be primary; you may find that one really rings true for you.


If you are a Water element person, you may experience pain in your low back, calves or feet, sometimes feel intense fatigue, fear or anxiety about the future, and you may be intrigued by the mysteries of life. You probably have a strong drive that allows you to push forward through any obstacle, like a forceful river that carves the banks around it. At the same time, this drive may lead you to push past your own energetic resources, leaving you feeling drained. Living as a Water element person is all about using your resources in a way that best supports you, and becoming comfortable with the unknown.


If you are a Wood element person, you are a natural leader and have an instinct to create change. You love to be challenged, and constant growth is your game. Others may complain that you are bossy, or do not seem to see the clarity of your plans. You excel at envisioning possibilities and mapping the best ways to get there. On the flip side, if you have not fully embraced this aspect of yourself, life may seem like an endless series of obstacles and you may feel you just cannot summon the personal power to make decisions or stand up for yourself. You might have musculoskeletal aches and pains, eye issues, or migraines, and may tend towards anger and frustration.

Learning to live comfortably in the Wood element involves clarifying your perspective. Learn what you need to grow, and creatopportunities for growth and change.


If you are a Fire person, you have a warm personality. You can be highly social. Yet, like a flickering fire, you can also get burnt out by social interactions and need time to recharge. Some Fire people are animated and energetic, and people love the way they dance lightly through life. Others are tender and delicate like a flower, and can be easily wounded. You may be all too familiar with sadness and a feeling of vulnerability within intimacy. You do not enjoy pondering life’s deep questions. Instead, you prefer to live in the present moment. Some might even think you are childlike in your play with life.

Life as a Fire element person is an embrace of the freedom that you crave. Stoke your fire sometimes with activities that bring you joy.


If you are an Earth person, you are a natural caregiver who takes responsibility for the well-being of those around you. While you feel satisfied by this role, you may neglect your own needs when you see that others are in need of nurturing. You might love good food, and crave sweets. The Earth element is closely connected with the stomach and digestion so you may tend to have issues with bloating, feeling heavy or foggy, or indigestion. Do you feel like your thoughts are just going round and round? This is a mental or spirit-level kind of indigestion that you may have too.

Living as an Earth element person involves balancing the give and take in your life, as well as taking care to create a grounding and solid foundation for yourself. This is literally and figuratively a home, which is so supportive for your wellbeing.


As a Metal element person, you may see the big picture of life as if watching from above. While others may just be living their lives without much reflection, you are likely seeing patterns and structures at work. You hold a vast space of awareness and can entertain multiple truths at once. Something could be both right and wrong, beneficial and detrimental. It all depends! And you also hold a sense of the ideal, of what each thing would be like in its perfection.

When people or things fall short of this ideal, you may feel a kind of grief or disappointment. This means you can be really hard on yourself and pessimistic at times. You may also tend to be nostalgic. Physically you likely have recurrent issues with your lungs/breathing, elimination and bowel movements, and/or your skin.

The challenge of life as a Metal element is embracing your own unique value. Learn to accept imperfection in yourself and others as a beauty in itself.

Location & Hours