The Water Element

Chinese Character of the Water Element

When you think of Water Element types, you think of the wise sage at their best and someone in perpetual fight/flight/freeze/fawn at their worst. We all usually fall somewhere in between. The Water Element is based in winter when everything goes within and the flavor of this element is salty.

The Water Element is equated with the Kidneys and the the Kidneys house our Essence (or Jing). Another way to describe this Essence is that it is your bank account of energy. This bank account must be used to make babies out of and also to retire on. If you must link it to a western medicine equivalent, think your adrenals. 

In Chinese medicine, this Essence or Jing is equated with our vitality.  We have “congenital” jing (that which we were born with) and “acquired” jing (that which comes from the food we take in).  Bone broth can help support our acquired jing thus increasing vitality and stamina. This recipe below is great for everyone, but especially for fertility (men and women), pregnancy and postpartum women.  It can even help reduce chronic pain, particularly the low back, due to its proximity to the kidneys.

Bone Broth Recipe

bone broth in clear teacup sitting next to a marrow bone
  • 2 or 3 lbs marrow bones*
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 turnip or parsnip (optional)
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 6-10 black pepper corns
  • 2 bay leaves


Crack the bones and then throw everything into a crockpot, cover with water (as much as needed to cover bones) and slow cook overnight.

Cool the soup for a while. Then, strain the soup through a cheesecloth (you should only be left with the broth) and let it cool to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator.  After it’s cooled, there will be some fat that is congealed on the top.  Skim this off and throw it away and then fill ice-cube trays with the soup until frozen.  You can store the cubes, two each, in zip lock bags.

*You can purchase “natural” marrow bones at PCC, Metropolitan Market and Whole Foods.  You may have to ask the butcher for them.

Recipe adapted from, The Joy of Cooking. Perfected by an Acupuncture Northwest Patient.