Huge waterfall illustrating The Water Element in Traditional Chinese Medicine

The Hub’s naturopathic nutritionist Rhi Hepple describes the benefits and joy of nurturing your Water Element at this time of year


The Water Element: 21 December-20 March

As a naturopathic nutritionist I follow the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system of The Five Elements which bring balance to our mind, body, emotions and spirit. They work in a cycle within us all and outside us in the seasons. The Five Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, which cover a whole year and work with the seasons. They are also within us. As individuals we may resonate with one element more than others and at various times a particular element can go out of balance which can bring up health issues and disturb our natural well-being.

We came into the Water Element on 21 December and stay with it until 21 March when we move into the Wood Element. During this winter season it is good to work on nurturing our own Water Element which will not only support our health but also our mind and mood too.

We are now embracing the cool darkness of winter and feeling the Water Element come into its own. This season is the start of a number of months of eliminating toxins. First through the hard work of our kidneys and then when we come into spring it will be the liver’s turn to take its starring role.


How the Water Element affects us

The Water Element is about the kidneys, the store of our qi energy, and bladder which helps us to excrete impurities. It is also about our ears, bones and teeth. Often during the season of the Water Element we see stronger symptoms in these areas. The emotions of this element are fear and anxiety but also guilt and these can often be heightened during this period. I’m sure you notice that when you are feeling stressed and anxious you may well need to urinate more often.

If we think how changeable water can be we can get more of an understanding of its effect on us as an element. Water can be supportive (we can float calmly around a pool), but equally we could be swept away by a big wave in the ocean. It can trickle and babble along in a stream, meandering its way through the countryside – or it can be overflowing, strong, stormy and furious, knocking down anything in its path, tearing away at the coastline. It doesn’t like to be contained but prefers to be ever-flowing. A still, calm lake may look beautiful but a stagnant corner may have some hidden nastiness.

An imbalance in the Water Element can also manifest in kidney and bladder issues, hearing problems, tinnitus, osteoporosis, brittle bones, frequent urination, impotence, cold extremities, teeth and gum issues, lower back pain, prostate problems, weak knees, deep depression, hypertension, fluid retention, dryness, anxiety, fearfulness, restlessness and not wanting to conform or feeling trapped.

When in balance the Water Element can help you to be incredibly creative, with free-flowing ideas, and it can also be very driven and motivated to get something done, to achieve goals and ambitions. You may seek adrenaline-fuelled activities to stimulate your Water Element.


Support your Water Element

  • What to eat Supportive food for the season are seaweeds, blueberries, beetroot, ginger, pumpkin seeds, aubergines, sunflower seeds and chia seeds. Spices for the season are chilli and cayenne.
  • What to drink Ensure you are well hydrated. Try coconut water which is rich in essential minerals. Teas for the season are nettle or ginger tea.
  • Extra support Supplements for the season are magnesium, Vitamin B5 and zinc.
  • Nurture yourself! Eat warming foods, rest, meditate and restore your energy. If anxiety levels are higher at this time then try passiflora which is a nerve tonic and is calming and restorative. If there are signs of stagnation such as excess mucus then support hydration and stimulate the lymphatic system with exercise, massage, dry body brushing and so on.


The joy of nourishing your Water Element

When working with clients I always focus on addressing the physical symptoms first, but the Five Elements will always be in the back of my mind and I will add in some nourishing support when appropriate. It’s often when you nurture your element you can make a transformational change in your emotions. It can lift your spirit and change your motivations.

I mention one client who I had been working with for a number of months and when her physical symptoms had shifted we started nourishing her element that was out of balance which was Water. She emailed me a couple of months later writing how much better she was feeling, how she had started to learn to play the piano, a dream of hers since she was a child. And also she had taken up rock climbing!

A perfect example of the joy that nourishing the elements can create.

To learn more about naturopathic nutrition and how Rhi works to support you click here