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The 5 Elements & an Integrative approach for the 21st Century

The 5 Elements & an Integrative approach for the 21st Century


We often talk of people having ‘their head in the clouds’, ‘feet of clay’, or being ‘all fired up’, ‘airy fairy’, or ‘wishy washy’ etc. People instinctively know what a fiery, watery, earthy or airy person is like. But have you ever wondered where these expressions originated?

There is a tradition of Indo-European energy theory based on the Five Elements of Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth and their corresponding chakras. (Chakras are fundamental to medical practices in India, Tibet, Mongolia, the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and all the Americas.) Paul Francis, founder of The Integrative College and lecturer in homoeopathy in Lancaster and London, has studied different energy systems from around the world and formulated a ‘core’ energy model. He has also studied modern quantum physics which provides a scientific context within which energy medicine can finally be understood.

Paul believes the energy model is our birthright. It would have been familiar to our ancestors and has underpinned formal healing traditions including ancient Greek and Egyptian medicine. Unfortunately, along with herbalism, this knowledge has been suppressed. However, it never completely went away and our language many centuries later still reflects this elemental wisdom.

Physicists are now saying that the universe is 96% energy (which means that scientists actually don’t understand 96% of the universe!), and that “matter” in words of David Bohm “is like a small ripple on this tremendous ocean of energy”. In a 1998 International Conference the world’s leading cosmologists recognised that the universe ‘is filled with some unknown form of energy, an ethereal energy that threads empty space’. This means that matter or solid material is the exception rather than the norm in our cosmos! There is more energy than matter. The old Newtonian view of the universe as a clock is melting into a more fluid and complex model. Matter, energy and consciousness are all part of the same energetic spectrum. Modern physics is now starting to resemble Eastern mysticism.

So what can this knowledge bring to modern, natural medical practice? A conscious knowledge of the model makes remedy selection easier and can open up completely new avenues for treatment. Using special remedies to correct the underlying elemental imbalances works much more effectively than just giving remedies to treat a particular health problem. Herbs can be more accurately prescribed depending upon the fundamental energetic imbalance. Different diets can have a positive or negative effect on the energy fields. Historically, medical practitioners would have given advice on nutrition, exercise, herbs alongside remedies and would not have practised only one form of medicine. It is because our state-based medicine has been compartmentalised into different specialities that this attitude has permeated into alternative medical practices and we often do not recognise how limited it is to treat with one form of medicine – whether that is homoeopathy, herbalism or nutrition etc.

Perhaps some examples would help to illustrate the difference between working with energy theory and just prescribing remedies to treat different illnesses. Eczema is a skin condition that may be linked to an over-energy in the air element. This may be successfully treated but unless the air element is also balanced, asthma is likely to develop at a later stage. Again, the asthma may be treated, but IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) would be the next possible outlet for the high air energy. Finally, the elemental imbalance could progress to the kidneys. Emotionally the patients may be prone to anxiety, be a bit ‘scatty’ and unable to complete tasks due to a lack of earth. A person who is unable to assert himself and who never gets angry would have an under-energy in the fire element, and is likely to have weight issues. Each element is responsible for the building and maintenance of specific organs and systems in the body.

All this gives us a practical way for understanding how energy medicine works. Paul Francis has categorised remedies according to their vibrational frequency. Those with the fastest vibration are the most powerful in terms of healing and include colour remedies, gem elixirs and flower essences. Homoeopathic remedies fall into the mid-vibrational range. Finally, the slowest vibrating medicines are made from physical substances without any vibrational enhancement and these include herbs, nutritional supplements and drugs. Paul has actually taken his understanding to a new level and developed his own harmonic remedies for particular organ systems and diseases. For example, there is a harmonic for the stomach, for allergies, for hormonal imbalances, for anxiety etc. These are prepared from the essences, gems, sound notes (which treat chakras directly), colours (for different elements), herbs, remedies and nutrients which resonate with that particular system or disease and which is then potentised to form one single remedy.

A practitioner trained in this model would therefore be able to make recommendations about the best diet, exercise, herbs and remedies for each individual patient. These would all fit together and treat the underlying energetic imbalances. This is true holistic medicine.

Eve Gilmore
M.Sc (Hons) Natural Medicines, N.D., Dip I.O.N., L.C.Hom., C.B.A.K., Dip Couns., Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor (Intermediate). Naturopath, Homoeopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Arc Healthcare

This abridged article first appeared in issue 3, Summer 2006 of Healthy Life - Mind, Body & Soul Magazine.
For an unabridged version please e-mail us at:

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