Do You Know Your Wood Element Personality Traits?


It's so fascinating and important to understand how a balanced Wood Element of Chinese medicine will support your body & mind.

In a previous blog post I gave you a little tiny taste of the holistic cycle of the Five Elements of Chinese medicine. 

In this post, we are going to wander a bit around the wood element and discover how this element expresses itself in nature, in health, in our personality systems, and even in a project or our business cycle. 

When exploring the five elements of Chinese medicine, it’s important to keep in mind that the five element phases are cyclic. The qi, or life force energy that has been germinating in the internal water element of the winter is now given direction, it’s ready to sprout. 

All the new beginnings, new creations are formed from the energies that have been resting and hibernating through the Water element phase, and it is the wood element energy that brings it to life and begins to give it form. It’s the beginning of Yang energy rising.

As mentioned in the Five Elements chart, the organs and meridians that are associated with the Wood Element phase Liver & Gallbladder. 

In Chinese medicine, one of the primary functions of the liver is to create the free flow of qi (life-force energy) flowing through the body and mind. The Liver moves the qi and the Metal element Lung distributes it. This free flow of qi keeps the body healthy and the mind clear. When it becomes impeded, stuck, or blocked (Liver qi stagnation) is when problems begin to arise in the body and mind. 

Constriction, tension, headaches, pain, painful menses, spasms, irritability, anger, depression are some of the manifestations that can arise from stagnant qi.

The wood element is expressed in our eyes. But not only our physical eyes and vision, but our vision of creation and dreams, and even more deeply, our deepest vision, our inner vision and inner knowing.

Represented by the tree, you can see the wood elements' nature of growth and structure, stability, direction… but just as important in the success of a tree’s vitality, is the flexibility. Flexibility in body and mind. Those wood element types can be pretty stubborn when out of balance. ;-)

When your wood nature gets challenged and your plans and direction get misdirected… you need healthy flexibility of the mind so that you do not get frustrated and stuck. This is one representation of the common Chinese diagnosis we see in Liver Qi Stagnation.  

I love this little poem that seems to represent this fact…

The wood element symbolizes new beginnings. 

Lifecycle: Birth. It is the phase when new life is given. This could be the birth of a child, relationship, how many times have you seen or developed a new romance in the springtime. You may be birthing a new project or a new business adventure. 

Time of day: It is also simply a new day. As a matter of fact, the morning is a great time of day to set goals and plan your day. As part of my slow-living way of life these days, my morning routine sets me up for a very successful day, (emotionally, spiritually, productively, and mentally) 

Season: that the wood element corresponds to is Spring. This is the season when countless new forms are created in nature. Plants and new shoots begin to emerge, leaves return to the trees, notice I said return to… If you remember from a previous post, the five elements are a dynamic cycle that continues to flow over and over.

[post image of cherry blossoms blooming]

Organ and meridian systems: Liver & Gallbladder

Physical aspects: tension, temporal headaches, digestive issues, menstrual difficulties, eye/vision problems, tightness in tendons.

On a physical level our tendons and sinews are associated with the wood element, these connect our skeletal system and help create structure, but healthy sinews and tendons also have flexibility and keep us flexible in our body.

Emotions: Anger, irritability, depression

Nutrition: leafy greens, lemon, wild caught salmon.

Exercise: Yoga, walking, especially amongst the trees ;-) stretching, martial arts

Herbs: Milk thistle, dandelion root

Essential Oil: If you know me, then you know I absolutely love teaching about the basic principles of Traditional Chinese medicine and the 5-Elements of Chinese medicine, and essential oils...  AND my special sauce is teaching how to merge these two modalities with AcuPoint Oil Alchemy, how to use essential oils on acupuncture points... So, when it comes to working with an imbalance of wood element energy, my first go-to oils are...   Blue TansyLavender - I teach all about it in my online courses, most people start HERE

AcuPoint: Liver 3 - LV3 - Liver 3 is the premier point to free the flow of liver qi. 

Business/Project Cycle: This is when your vision becomes clear. 

The act of “planning” is also associated with the wood element, so the wood phase of any new project or endeavor involves planning and brainstorming.

You’re literally giving birth to a new creation, regardless of what it is. It can be any creative project, a new business, or organizing your closet.

And, of course, since morning is associated with the wood element time of day, the morning is a great time to plan your day, set your goals and intentions.

Wood Archetype:

A typical Wood element archetype as you can see is a planner. They are creative visionaries. They are typically very self-motivated and driven. They love the ability to control their future and destiny. Wood types have a strong sense of what works and how to move around obstacles. To achieve their goals and get to their future, the wood type needs to be organized and purposeful. They are usually list makers, organized, self directed and structured.

On the other side of that coin, Wood types, even when adapted, can have an edge. They may come across as a bit self-righteous, and are not really interested in “small talk”. They are ready to do combat to get to their goals or when they see an injustice,  and are not bashful about arguing with and confronting whoever stands in their way. At times, they can be abrasive, controlling and pushy.

Fortunately, for the wood element, and anyone in their path, forgiveness, loyalty, and patience are their virtues, and this can really neutralize frustration, anger, impatience and hostility… some of the more toxic emotions of a maladapted wood element.

Sense of control over their life is probably their biggest priority. 

Here is a starting list of Healthy Balanced Wood Element Characteristics.

  • Makes clear and healthy decisions
  • Can deal with change easily, flexible, rolls with the punches,
  • Driven, well organized and efficient
  • Expresses anger and other emotions appropriately
  • Finds hope and renewal
  • Initiates projects with creativity and vision
  • Conscientious, committed, and reliable
  • Courageous
  • Imaginative
  • Physically flexible and supple (in mind & body)

Do you resonate with this element? We may have a predominant element type, but we all have a little bit of each element in us, and we can always nurture the element, especially during its primary season.


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