How to balance the five elements through reflexology

Reflexologist, Veronica Tift, elaborates on how, if unbalanced, the five elements can cause ailments and pain.

Take a moment to think about how completely and totally unique you are. Everything about you is like no one else on this planet of 7,5 billion. Your fingerprints, personality, genomes and cellular operating instruction are all unique to you. How incredible!

This is where many ancient healing practices had it right, looking at us as the unique humans we are and our deep connection with earth and its elements. Observing the changes in nature and the changing cycle of us humans: birth, adulthood, maturity, aging and dying.

Using five essential features of nature: fire, earth, wood, metal (or air) and water, ancients explained the complex traits of our bodies and minds. These are not literally the elements that make up our bodies, but more metaphorically.

One of these elements is produced by one element and then produces another, this creates a cycle of the five elements within each of us that require balance.

The five elements

The five elements, fire, earth, wood, metal (or air) and water, are broken down into different categories. These include seasons, physical traits, body type, taste, colour, emotion and sound.

While a person is made up of all five elements, there will always be one or two more dominant. So, for example, if we look at the different emotions, you might be quicker to anger or feel frustrated easily (a trait of people with a dominant wood element), or you are incredibly well-organised (like metal element types). Maybe you are more introspective (like those with a strong water element), or possibly you struggle with depression or are passionate (a dominant fire element).

When we experience extremes in our mood, tastes, sense of smell or even over doing it on a colour, this can indicate that there is an imbalance in that related element.

Each person’s element requires different ways of bringing their individual element into balance. A fire dominant will need lively, energetic people with fun activities to help balance emotions, while an earth dominant will look to supportive friends and family, or metal dominant will detach for a while when under stress.

Imbalance in elements causes illness

Ever wondered why you seem to struggle more at different times of the year? The elements correspond with a season: water with winter; wood is with spring; fire with summer; metal with autumn; and earth with late summer.

Extreme imbalances in nature produce forest fires that rage out of control, and flooding and massive storms. When we think of extremes and imbalance in the body, we see illness, fevers, indigestion, high blood pressure and pain. Balancing the five elements within us help generate well-being and enable us to cope better with stressors.

Find balance with reflexology

Reflexology is a very well-rounded complementary therapy. When a client comes into my practice for the first time, I ask a couple of questions. For example, what emotion seems to come up when stressed and the time of the day when they feel extremely tired.

I notice the quality of a person’s hair and the colour of the clothes they might wear often when coming to see me, even what tone of voice a person speaks in: if they have a slight way of singing (earth) or speak in a shouty way (wood). All this tells me what element might be out of balance.

Then when I begin working on the feet, I have a better understanding of what the client’s needs are based on which element might be out of balance.

The body is mirrored on the feet through points called reflexes. Looking at the element out of balance, I can stimulate the reflex that best allows balance to be restored through the body’s own healing ability.

Help yourself

There are many online resources to find out which element might be your dominant and the best ways to balance it.

Visit your local reflexologist. Make sure they are trained in the elements and meridian therapies. This will help you delve deeper into the incredible world of the five elements, giving you specific insight on how to take care of yourself.

Note, as reflexologists, we should never claim to cure a specific disease or diagnose. If you have experienced this with a reflexologist, they might not be qualified to practice.


Dougans, Inge. 2005 Reflexology- the 5 elements and their 12 meridians a unique approach

Axe, Dr Josh. 2021, Ancient Remedies for modern Life

Haas. Dr Elson M. 1981, Staying healthy with the seasons

Wills Pauline. 1995, The reflexology manual


Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.

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