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How To Use Essential Oils Based On

the Five Chinese Elements

The five Chinese elements of lifeearth, metal, water, wood, and fireare phases or movements of yin and yang energy.

Yin represents condensing energy, the material and substantial. Yang represents expanding energy, the immaterial and non-substantial.

When the five elements are flowing in balance, yin and yang are in balance, and you are healthy. Imbalances lead to problems.

Here's a little information about the five Chinese elements, potential imbalances, and essential oils to help correct imbalances, based mostly on information from
Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance with Essential Oils and The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils.

You can diffuse the essential oils or dilute some of them in carrier oil for a massage.


Earth is energy in its descending yin stage. Imbalances may lead to:

Sluggish digestion. The essential oils of cardamom, fennel, and thyme may help.

Continually worrying about your children and neglecting yourself. Try lemon essential oil.

Excessive need for sympathy and support. Use marjoram or vetiver essential oil.

Overthinking and mentally going over and over things. Frankincense or lemon essential oil may help.

To balance earth deficiency: caraway, coriander.

To balance earth excess: cardamon, patchouli, petitgrain.


Metal is energy in a gathering and synthesizing yin phase of transformation. Imbalance in metal can lead to frequent colds. Use eucalyptus or tea tree oil.

To balance metal deficiency: fir, niaouli, pine, thyme (linalool chemotype).

To balance metal excess: citronella, eucalyptus, myrtle, ravintsara.


Water is condensed energy in a static yin phase. It's a dormant state filled with latent power. Imbalances in water can lead to:

Edema (swelling). Juniper or fennel essential oils may help.

A feeling of apprehension and overwhelm. Try juniper.

Hyperactivity and feeling unsettled. Try geranium essential oil.

To balance water deficiency: basil, clary sage, geranium.

To balance water excess: cedarwood, juniper.


Wood is rising energy in an accelerating yang phase. Wood is about motivation, growth, and harmony in the flow of life. If energy isn't flowing, essential oils with
relaxing properties, such as lavender, may help.

To balance wood deficiency: carrot seed, chamomile, rose, vetiver.

To balance wood excess: chamomile, lavender, lemon, spikenard.


Fire is expansive, radiant energy of yang at its peak. Imbalances may lead to:

Nervous exhaustion and insomnia. Use cooling, calming essential oils, such as lavender, neroli, and melissa.

Apathy. Try jasmine and oils with similar properties.

Poor self-image and low self-esteem. Use rose essential oil.

To balance fire deficiency: frankincense, sage, sandalwood.

To balance fire excess: lemon verbena, marjoram, neroli, orange, valerian.