The Year of the Metal Rat.

Updated: Jan 26

In Chinese Medicine we base a lot of our diagnosis and decision making on Yin and Yang and 5 elements theory, but those concepts go way beyond the medical field. These theories were created by observing all natural phenomena and they are embodied in our day-to-day life. On January 25th, 2020 we are entering the Year of the White Rat. The White Rat is the first animal of the 12-year cycle of Chinese Zodiac.



Each year of Chinese calendar is interpreted based on:

  • 12 earthly branches and the animal associated with it

  • 10 heavenly stems

  • Yin and Yang of the earthly branches and heavenly stems

  • 5 elements of the earthly branches and heavenly stems

Let’s take a look at 2020

This year’s earthly branch is 子 Zi, which corresponds to RAT 鼠 Shǔ​. Zi is the first branch in a 12-year cycle and therefore signifies new beginnings and new opportunities. According to legend, the Rat was able to trick the Ox by convincing him to give her a ride on its back and it jumped off of the Ox’s back right before the finish line beating the rest of 11 animals and appearing in front of an Emperor first. Based on this tale, the Rat is considered to be smart, highly adaptable and opportunistic which means that this year is especially favorable for entrepreneurs, people that are not afraid of taking risks and people that are true to themselves. The Rat is also considered to be a social and sexually active animal, which makes 2020 to be a favorable year for fertility and having more children. Zi is not just a year, it also describes a month, a day or time. Its time is 11pm-1am making it right at the junction of Yin and Yang (night & day). So even though it belongs to Yang Water, it can be looked at a transitional time between Yin and Yang further emphasizing rebirth of all things.

2020’s heavenly stem is 庚 Geng. Geng represents Yang Metal that is carved into a sword or an axe. Raw tough unbendable metal symbolizes endurance and stamina. It takes a lot of time and effort to carve metal into a sword. It is a metaphor for all the hard working people that might have suffered in the past but expected to be rewarded in 2020.







Earthly branches and heavenly stems are paired based on their Yin and Yang nature. As Zi and Geng are numbered 1 & 7, which are odd numbers, they belong to Yang. Yang is a moving and motivating energy, which means 2020 will be a call to action.









Geng is linked to metal element in 5 elements theory, while Zi is linked to water. Metal and water are in harmony with each other. According to the generating cycle metal is the mother of water. That means that metal supports and strengthens water. This points to overall harmony and agreement. However, metal is a tough element and is prone to wars and conflicts. Metal’s values are courage, respect, loyalty and commitment. Metal is driven by truth and fairness. But when those qualities are not achieved, revolutions, wars and protests may arise. When it comes to health, Metal is related to Lung and Large Intestine organ system. This year respiratory system is expected to be stronger and due to Lung’s ability to safeguard the exterior of the body (immune system), we are expected to be much more resilient to sickness. However, something to pay more attention to this year is water retention or edema, especially of the lungs since second element at play is water. Water is related to Kidney organ in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Kidney is linked to winter season and hibernation, which means that sleeping more is highly advisable this year. Insomnia is also expected to improve in 2020. Kidney energy is reflected in bone health. Therefore bones should be stronger this coming year. Swimming or spending more time in water is also highly recommended. Warming therapeutic methods are the ones of choice such as going to saunas, taking baths and drinking warm beverages. Diet should include warming and invigorating spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, turmeric, ginger, etc. Various types of broths are also good for strengthening the immune system. As spleen and stomach are “afraid” of dampness, unlike 2019 this coming year can be less kind to a digestive system. Expect problems with food intolerances, leaky gut and SIBO. In order to avoid those issues, try to eat warm, easy to digest food. Good examples are soups, stews, steamed vegetables, congees and pureed food.

On a lighter note, Acupuncture is expected to gain respect and popularity as it involves metal (needles) as a main healing element. Have a wonderful Year of the White Rat everyone and enjoy your Acupuncture sessions!


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