What are the Elements and their Meridians?
The ancient Chinese considered the twelve main meridians as the twelve officials of the body’s kingdom.  They considered that each of these officials or energy flows governed a part of our personality and how we functioned in the world. Each of these officials had their job as part of the team and relied on each other to contribute to the whole.


Fire

A Fire element wants to have relationship, wants to be equal with you. They may either lack joy or have an excess. The color on their face can range between ashen gray to quite red. The color will manifest under the skin at the level of the blood. Even the most ashen gray or joyless Fire element will occasionally rise like a fire into laughter. Their voice will have a sense of laughter even when discussing quite grave topics. You can gain rapport with this element either by going up to the laughter and having a good time or by going down into the lack of joy or sadness. The Fire element will feel this to be normal as this is where they live most of their lives. Sometimes the person may show a shy nature or you may feel they are keeping you at bay with their laughter.

The Heart Meridian begins in the center of the armpit and travels along the inside of the arm to the thumb side of the little fingernail. The Heart is the king.  It is the ruler of the kingdom and as such hold the space for the others to do their job.  As with any government, if the king is weak the whole kingdom feels insecure and on shaky ground. For us it can feel nothing is really safe or secure. There are 9 points in this meridian.

The Small Intestine begins at the little finger side of the little fingernail along the outside of the arm past the elbow’s “Funny bone” and the triceps to the deltoid, zigzagging down over the spine of the scapula then back to end at the front of the ear. The small intestine is the sorter of pure from impure.  Whether that is from food or the nightly news, it sorts out what we need.    It helps us if we are in a muddle.  Then what is not pure and not needed it passes on to the large intestine to deal with. There are 19 points in this meridian.

The Pericardium starts just outside that nipple, up across the pectorals and deltoid muscles and down the middle of the inside of the arm along the biceps and between the radius and ulna to the thumb side of the base of the middle fingernail. The pericardium is like the soldier that stands in front of the king.  It protects us from shock and hurt.  When the Pericardium also known as the Heart Protector is unwell, things get into our heart and hurt us easily.  If we tend to feel anxious this can come from the pericardium. There are 9 points in this meridian

The Triple Warmer begins at the base of the little finger side of the third fingernail, travels up the middle of the outside of the arm, across the deltoid and trapezius muscles, up the lateral side of the neck and around the ear to end on the orbital ridge outside the eyebrow. The triple Warmer maintains and regulates the temperature of the body’s main sections and the person emotional temperature. It affects whether a person blows hot and cold and their ability to give warmth. There are 23 points in this meridian.


Earth

An Earth element carries a deep sense of emptiness. The emotion of earth is sympathy and they may convey a sense of neediness. They will either be the type of person who really wants you to understand all they have been through or expresses that they “do not need anyone.” Their voice will have a sing to it; the color on their face will range from a gray yellow to a bright banana color. This color will manifest in the flesh. They will have an odor that is sweet, of blossoms that are slightly off.

The Stomach Meridian begins below the center of the eyes, goes down and over to the jaw, up to the forehead then down the side of the throat to the collar bone, jogs over to the nipple line then down past the belly and the groin and jogs laterally and does down the front of the leg, the outside of the knee cap and down between the tibia and the fibula past the ankle ending at the little toe side to the second toenail. The stomach is our source of absorption.  This may be the pure Chi of food or our ability to absorb information, our ability to “take things in’.  In this it affects our ability to nurture ourselves, others and our ability to feel full and satisfied. There are 45 points in this meridian.

The Spleen Meridian runs from the big toe side of the base of the big toe nail, along the arch of the foot, up in front of the ankle bone, along the inside of the leg, past the groin and up along the rib-cage toward the beginning of the lung meridian, then down the end underneath the armpit. The spleen is the Official of Transportation and Distribution. The spleen transforms food and drink, extracting Food Qi and food essences which are then distributed to Lungs/Heart/Liver. This process is central to the production of both Qi and Blood. Houses our “thought” influences our capacity for thinking, studying, concentrating, focusing and memorizing. There are 21 points in this meridian.


Metal

The Metal person wants respect. The emotion of Metal is grief. This is a sense of loss, a feel for what could have been. This is different than the sadness of Fire. The colour of metal is white; this will show on the skin. It may look like they have a white powder on. The odor is rotten, like the smell of a butchers shop or of the Large Intestine. They want to know you are not going to feel better than them. It will feel normal for you to be at a physically lower position to them in the room. The space will have the quiet feel of respect, like a church. Any laughter will be at your expense.

The Lung Meridian begins at the valley between the chest and shoulder, just outside the 3rd rib and extends along the thumb side of the inner arm ending at the thumb side base of the thumb nail. The lung meridian is the receiver of pure Chi, it is our connection to all that is pure, the heavens all that is spiritual. This meridian helps us to see and appreciate quality in ourselves, others and the outside world. There are 11 points on this meridian.

The Large Intestine begins at the thumb side of the index finger, travels along the outer arm past the insertion of the deltoid, over the shoulder, across the neck and sternocleidomastoid muscle and across the jaw to the flare of the nostril. Large intestine is the waste system for the body, mind and emotional self.  When the Small Intestine has sorted pure from impure the Large Intestine makes sure we have space for new by getting rid of the old. This meridian affects our ability to let go of what is not needed. There are 20 points in this meridian.


Water

Water is the element of fear. These people will either be frozen like ice or raging like an over flowing stream. These people are driven, maybe manic or quiet like a still pond. The color will show on top of the skin as a ruddy red/blue. Their odor is putrid, the smell of the Kidneys and Bladder. A Water person lives on the edge of fear where they have a love/hate relationship with the emotion. A Water element wants reassurance. Their voice will groan, have a continuous maybe monotonous feel to it.

The Bladder Meridian begins at the innermost corners of the eyes, up across the forehead and over the top of the head, down the neck along the side of the spine to the sacrum, zigging medially up then down on the sacrum to the coccyx. A parallel line begins at the right angle of the scapula down along the gluteus and the middle of the back of the leg, ending at the outside base of the little toenail. The bladder is where our vital energy is stored for times of need. This is our ability to hold on to ideas, to stay with things to retain vital chi itself.  If we are tired it is good to look at the Bladder meridian. There are 67 points in this meridian.

The Kidney Meridian begins on the sole of the foot and travels up the innermost part of the leg to the genital region, then up the medial side of the rectus abdominus to end just below the clavicle. The Kidney is the centre of our will and determination.  This part of us is like water; when roused nothing can get in our way, when quite can still erode a mighty mountain.  When unwell we don’t have the will to do anything. There are 27 points in this meridian.


Wood

Wood is the element of determination, assertion, or anger. Their main emotion will range between feelings of frustration to hopelessness. They want to know that you are in control so they can relax. They may feel pushy and want you to push back. Their voice will have shout or a sense of assertion to it. The colour green will float above the skin nearly like a glow. Their odor is rancid, similar to that of oil that has gone off; as though the body is not digesting fats.

The Gall Bladder begins at the outer edge of the eye orbit directly lateral to the corner of the eye below the end of the triple heater meridian. It then moves down to the ear, then up across the temple to the forehead and back toward the edge of the ear and around behind the ear to the occipital ridge. It then goes back up around the head to a point directly above the middle of the eye on the forehead and back around and down the neck to the trapezius behind the shoulder, under the armpit to a point directly below the end of the liver meridian. From there if angles back to the posterior side of the body and arches back along the iliac crest and down the lateral side of the leg to the front of the ankle bone to the end at the base of the little toe side of the fourth toenail. The gall bladder is the meridian of judgement and vision.  It helps us to see the future with flexibility and hope. If we are having trouble with seeing things or if we are rigid in our attitudes to things this can come from the Gall Bladder. With no vision there is no hope. There are 44 points in the meridian.

The Liver Meridian starts at the base of the little toe side of the big toenail, travels up the inside of the leg and thing, angles out to the waistline, then back in and up to end in the 6th intercostals pave directly below the nipple. The liver is the meridian of planning and action.  It is like the General of the Army, who takes the information from the Gall bladder.  With this, it plans what needs to be done to move forward and does it!  If we never really get things done or procrastinate with our decisions, this can come from the Liver meridian. There are 14 points in this meridian.

Through observing the Color, Sound, Odor, Emotion and gaining rapport with the person the basic element (know as CF – Causative Factor) will show itself. After that determination is made most of the treatment is used to address a deficiency in that element and therefore the person. This way it is thought, you can help the whole person grow and change.

Contact Purple Tree Healing Centre for a consultation →


Further information:

The Acupressure Way of Health: Jin Shin Do (1978) by Iona Marsaa Teeguarden

The Joy of Feeling: Bodymind Acupressure (1987) by Iona Marsaa Teeguarden

A complete Guide to Acupressure (1995) by Iona Marsaa Teeguarden

Summary table of the meridians & elements, derived from Raheem, Teeguarden, Connely, Kushi, Worsley

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