The Five Element System: Metal

If you can’t leave the house without a list, carry a tissue around for a persistent runny nose, have moisturizer in your purse for dry skin, achy joints and you have defined boundaries that no one dare cross, chances are that you are of the metal element.  Metal element individuals are known for their high level of intelligence and their meticulous focus on detail.  When in balance, they love to work, are consistent with their daily routines and anatomically have lean body structure and defined angles.  Think of the distance runner (marathon runner or Greyhound) and you can picture the typical metal element.

Autumn is the season for the metal element.  It is a time when the earth dumps its waste, bares itself and prepares for the input of the fresh and pure.  The yin organ for metal is lung and the yang organ is the large intestine.  Both organs can eliminate what is no longer needed and prepare for the new.  Each exhalation of the lungs eliminates the carbon dioxide from the body and prepares to take in the fresh oxygen in the next breath.  The large intestine eliminates the waste products from digestion.

The Chinese say that the lungs house the Corporeal Soul, which we equate with the spirit or essence.  It controls the breath of life.  The lungs govern Qi, which is closely related to blood, and flows in the blood vessels with blood.  Feeling the pulse of the femoral artery in pets and the radial artery in the human will give the practitioner an idea of the state of all of the organs.  This is referred to as pulse diagnosis in Chinese Medicine.

The emotion associated with metal is grief.  When metal is out of balance people can either hang on to grief, keeping them from moving on or become insensitive and unable to grieve.  Prolonged grieving can cause respiratory disease such as recurring respiratory infections or pneumonia.

I remember when I was in vet school and an instructor was giving a talk.  Several minutes after he began his lecture, one of the female students came in late.  She had a persistent cough and sat at the back of the room.  After a while, the instructor asked the coughing student if she had been grieving.  To our surprise, she said that she had recently lost her father and that she had been struggling with the loss.

The external manifestation of metal is the nose and as the fire element is affected by heat, the earth by dampness, metal is sensitive to dryness.  Dry skin is often a symptom of metal imbalance.  The person that carries around skin moisturizer and a tissue for their runny nose is likely a metal that is out of balance.

Each year with the first cold spell, many people in my area, fire up the wood stove for heat.  In a short time, the phone will start ringing as people are calling about their cat and its persistent cough.  The lungs, prone to dryness, become raspy, the cat constantly coughs and struggles with constipation.  Cats that are affected by dryness will benefit from sleeping near a humidifier or hanging around the bathroom while you shower and the steam in the air moistens the lungs.  Dogs that are metal element will often have dry skin with fine white flakes, like dandruff.  They will benefit by adding fish oil or coconut oil to their diet.  Any pet with asthma or chronic problems with constipation have imbalanced metal element.  Persistent congestion with mucous is another indication metal is out of balance as mucous is the fluid regulated by metal.

The pet that is metal is usually aloof, fine without socializing with other pets.  They are too focused on their own business and if they do not have something to do then there can be problems.  Trying to socialize these pets at early ages can do a lot for them in later life.  If not, they will often turn their attention inwards and create boundaries that will not allow themselves to fit into most situations.  Finding a job for them that they enjoy doing can be great for balancing the metal dog.  Agility, if started early, will give them something to be passionate about, focus on perfecting their performance and socializing as well.

Because metal elements are most affected in the fall and tend toward getting cold and dry, we need to add foods to the diet that warm.  Pungent foods are friends of metal as they provide yang (warm) and encourage energy to expand and move outward.  Asparagus, broccoli, celery, cucumber and mustard greens are great sources of pungent veggies.  Apricot, bananas and pears are also good.  Eggs can be a problem with the out of balance metal element.

Next time, we will look at the water element and see why they make the best Moms……