The lungs and large intestine are the partner organs for the Metal Element. The lungs expel carbon dioxide, and the large intestine eliminates solid residue. If this waste is not eliminated frequently it can have an effect on the skin. The skin is known in TCM as 'the third lung'; it is part of the Metal Element and can reflect sluggish bowels (toxins that remain in the colon for too long will be discharged through the skin). The bowel is one of the most important routes of elimination for self-cleansing, and works together with the kidneys, bladder, lungs and skin to help eliminate waste efficiently from the body. It contains friendly bacteria which can synthesize B vitamins and help to keep the level of harmful, pathogenic bacteria to a minimum.
Dryness: a passion for dry weather or, conversely, a hatred of it point to a Metal Element imbalance. In nature, autumn reflects dryness, as seen in the leaves when they lose their moisture, shrivel up and 'let go' of the branches they have hung on to since springtime.
Autumn, the time to reflect on the past year and to prepare for withdrawing as the Winter months close in. It is a time to protect the back of the neck from the winds, which begin to get cooler, otherwise you will be more susceptible to minor illnesses after the hot summer months.
White. Someone obsessed with wearing white or who strongly dislikes the color can be demonstrating an imbalance in the Metal Element. A white hue coming off the face is also indicative of lung problems according to TCM, just as a very white or pale skin in Western medicine is considered a sign that the lungs are too tight or there is local congestion, constricting the circulation.
Time of day:
3-5 a.m. (lungs): if there are problems with this organ you may wake up between these times and even experience breathing difficulties. This shows that there are unresolved issues around the emotion of grief, which corresponds to the Metal Element. Extreme grief is injurious to the lungs, and a person who is going through a period of grieving will often have bowel problems. The time of day for the large intestine is 5-7 a.m.; according to TCM this is the best time of day to have your first bowel movement. If there are any imbalances in the bowel, getting up between these times will encourage the body to rid itself efficiently of toxins held in the bowel.
The skin is seen as the third lung and breathes just as surely and necessarily as the lungs themselves. The link between lung problems and the skin is quite well documented in Western medicine: it is common for children who have been given suppressive skin treatments for eczema to go on to develop asthma. It is known that many skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema, rough, dry skin and rashes reflect an imbalance in the body that relates directly to the lungs. The correlation of the skin with the lungs and respiratory function is an important diagnostic tool in Chinese medicine. Elimination is also associated with the skin, since the skin is involved in the process of ridding the body of wastes. In Japan there is also an ancient belief that the skin reflects the condition of the internal organs: if the latter are fatigued in any way, it will reflect on our skin. Dead sea salts can greatly improve the texture and appearance of your skin. They are an extremely rich source of minerals including potassium, magnesium and calcium. These relaxing and restorative minerals allow for the absorption of more moisture, contributing to softer, smoother skin.
The sound of the Metal Element is a weeping tone of voice, which does not always coincide with actual tears. There is often a sense of sadness and loss, grief being the emotion of the Metal Element. The voice will invariably be very soft, too, almost angelic or ethereal.
We usually breathe through the nose. In TCM, the lungs are never separated from the nose, which is the sense organ of the Metal Element. Problems which affect the nose have a direct bearing on the lungs; equally, lung problems are often accompanied by disturbances in the nasal fluids. The secretion for this element is mucus, from any of the mucous membranes in the body. A deficiency of mucus can show that the body is over-heated, causing dryness on the surface of the skin. Alternatively, an excessive amount of mucus indicates an imbalance in the lungs. Therefore, dryness in the throat or nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, aching in the lungs, rasping, nasal drip and sinus blockages can all be related to the Metal Element is not properly balanced.
Body hair is the physical manifestation of the Metal Element. Excessive body hair or the loss of body hair points to an imbalance. The hair on our head, however, is ruled by the kidneys.
Symptoms of Imbalance:
Oedema, wet skin, excessive mucus and abnormal perspiration patterns are connected with the lungs, as the lungs, along with the Water Element, play an important role in the regulation of body fluids. Conversely, deficiencies of moisture can cause severe dryness in the body, signs of which may be lack of secretions, emaciation, anaemia, poor appetite and a white, ethereal appearance. The skin will be tight and therefore perspiration sparse. The large intestine has the ability, on a higher level, to generate movement forwards in our lives, encouraging evolution and change. Constriction and cynical behavior patterns emerge if the energy of the large intestine is poor. In TCM, nose bleeds, sore throat, neck swelling, thirst and a dry mouth, toothache and pain along the relevant meridian are all symptoms of an imbalance in the large intestine. When there are intestinal disorders, including chronic constipation, the blood can become congested in the colon.