The 7 Year Life Cycles of Women, According to Ancient Chinese Wisdom

Essential Takeaways

  • The life of a woman can be divided into distinct seven-year maturation cycles, each marked by unique physical and emotional characteristics.
  • Each stage can be represented by a season starting with spring representing birth and early childhood.
  • Certain herbal formulas can support you during each stage of life as priorities and needs shift.  

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the journey through life is mapped out in cycles represented by elements and seasons that reflect the changes in our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The foundation of TCM  philosophy rests on the idea that the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected, influenced by the ebb and flow of natural energy, also known as Qi. According to this wisdom, the life of a woman (and anyone assigned female at birth), can be divided into distinct seven-year maturation cycles (for males it’s eight-year cycles), each marked by unique physical and emotional characteristics.

Seven Year Cycles

Understanding this cyclical movement through seven year cycles provides insight into the natural flow of energy throughout our lives, highlighting shifts and changes that occur, their impact on our minds and bodies, and how we can work with these energy shifts and utilize applicable herbal formulas for each phase to feel our best.

Foundation (0-6 Years) + Growth (7-13 Years): Wood Phase

The first two cycles, while they have their own distinctions, both correspond to the Wood element and the energy of the spring season, a time of emergence, rapid development, and growth.

Foundation (0-6)

The first seven years are considered the foundation period. During this time, energy pathways are established, and the body develops the essential building blocks for future health. A child is thought to absorb the pure essence of life, laying the groundwork for physical and emotional resilience.

Growth (7-13)

The second seven-year cycle represents a time of increased vitality and growth. As puberty starts, their body experiences significant changes, and the energy begins to rise. This period is crucial for the cultivation of robust reproductive health and emotional balance.

Herbs For Kids and Pre-Teens

We love supporting this phase of life with ginger. Elix’s Ginger Aide elixir is not only safe for all ages, but it also can support early development by creating a solid foundation with a strong digestive fire and resilient immune system. Ginger also warms and expands the body which is naturally supportive for the expanding nature of this cycle.

Harmony (14-20 Years): Fire Phase

Entering puberty and early adulthood, this cycle is linked to the quick-moving Fire element, and potent exciting energy of summer. In the third seven-year cycle, emphasis is placed on establishing harmony within the body. This is a critical time for hormonal balance and emotional stability. TCM suggests that fostering emotional well-being during these years contributes to long-term health and vitality.

Herbs For Teens

During this phase Daily Harmony is every parent’s ally to help weather the teenage storm, as it can support emotional well-being, ensure a smooth transition through this dynamic period, and maintain a healthy balance of stress hormones, setting teens up to sail into adulthood with a calm nervous system, and a future of healthy stress management. Not to mention, it’s one of our favorite formulas for helping clear hormonal breakouts. 
If hormone imbalance starts to rear its ugly head through PMS, period, or other hormonal symptoms then Cycle Balance, a personalized herbal formula customized based on answers to a free Online Health Assessment can be added into the mix. Cycle Balance has been clinically shown to reduce 15 different menstrual symptoms.

Fertility (21-27 Years) + Balance (28-34 Years): Earth Phase

Spanning from 21 to 35 years, these cycles are associated with the Earth element, focusing on stability, fertility, and nurturing energy.

Fertility Phase (21-27)

The fourth seven-year cycle is often associated with the peak of reproductive energy. Fertility is believed to be at its height during this period. TCM recommends nurturing the body and mind to support reproductive health and overall hormone balance. It’s also a time when you are learning so much about yourself mentally, physically, and sexually.

Balancing Phase (28-34)

In the fifth phase, entering our late twenties and early thirties, the focus shifts to nurturing the balance of Yin and Yang energies within the body. This cycle emphasizes the importance of maintaining equilibrium between feminine and masculine forces for optimal well-being. Some examples of balancing Yin and Yang energy include balancing receiving and giving, rest and action. Knowing how to maintain equality in these energies, or when one is more indicated than the other often comes after accumulating a lifetime of wisdom up until this phase. 

Herbs for Digestion

Zoey's Digestif enhances digestive health which is central to the earth element and crucial for maintaining overall vitality during the peak reproductive years. Also, let’s be real, many of us at this age aren’t always eating the most balanced meals, and the digestif is a powerful option to help any digestive discomforts. 

This is also a great time to take Get Well, as the earth element has a weakness for overgiving, and oftentimes that can result in falling under the weather. We recommend taking Get Well at the first sign of things being “off,” be it a scratchy throat, chills, or neck tension, and it will likely be the push your immune system needs to make that first sign of malaise a non-event.

Clarity (35-41 Years) + Knowledge (42-48 Years): Metal Phase

Representing the Metal element, these next two phases bring about the themes of refinement, clarity, and introspection, associated with autumn. 

Clarity (35-41) 

The sixth seven-year cycle signifies having the inner wisdom and clarity of what you want out of life to shed what no longer serves you, and shifting the focus from others to oneself.  TCM suggests this stage should focus on nourishing spiritual and emotional well-being and resilience. 

Knowledge (42-48) 

Entering the early forties, female bodies undergo a profound transformation, where the emphasis is on consolidating energy and focusing on inner development. It's a time for embracing change, nurturing resilience, and preparing for the gradual shift towards perimenopause. Just like leaves shed in the fall time, this is a time to shed what is holding you back from being your true self.

Herbs for Perimenopause

For these phases we recommend Stay Well, it supports immune function, helps energy levels and the pitfalls of spreading ourselves too thin, which is so easy to do as we balance the needs of family, careers, and communities! It strengthens the metal element, which is related to boundaries between ourselves and others, a crucial element of this phase of life.

Wisdom (49-55 Years): Water Phase 

The phase beyond 49 years, related to the Water element, is characterized by wisdom, reflection, and depth—qualities of winter.  TCM views this stage as a time of reflection and wisdom. Nurturing the body, mind, and spirit during this period with plenty of rest and creative practices that bring you joy are believed to ease the natural transition into the wise sage phase of life. The transition into menopause is seen as a wonderful time, where people become the wise respected elders who share the lifetime of knowledge gained to younger generations.

Authenticity (55+): Second Spring Phase 

The way ancient texts describe this phase feels inspiring: the idea is that once someone has reached menopause, they get to start over with the fervor of a young kid - a second spring. It’s seen as the trope of the post-menopausal person not caring what anyone thinks, shouting their truth from the rooftops, and leaning in to being authentically themselves. They have the time to engage in the activities that truly inspire and energize them. It would be nice to always live life like this, it’s why the energy and empowerment that comes with stepping into this cycle is so loved and honored.

Herbs for Menopause & Postmenopause 

This is an excellent time to take Daily Harmony. It helps with any lingering menopausal symptoms, by maintaining balanced hormones and working with cooling, nourishing adaptogens. Daily Harmony is based on a traditional formula called The Free and Easy Wanderer (yes, please), which is indicated for navigating transitions, and since this is said to be one of the most major transitions one can go through, we love to see Daily Harmony utilized during the second spring.

Ginger Aide can also be helpful, as during this time of yin and winter, people often tend towards cold; beloved ginger keeps the channels warm and the digestive fire burning.

The Circle of Life

The water/winter phase is said to be the final phase, but Elix believes it to be a bit reductive to stop cycling through these energies and remain solely in one energy for pretty much an entire half of life. (To be fair, this theory dates back to over 2,000 years ago, so life expectancy looked a little different back then). If transitioning through menopause puts us in a second spring, we’d imagine we get to take the wise crone energy of the winter phase of life and transition into not only a second spring, but a second summer (and so on!) to look forward to…can any of our 55+ community speak to this? We would love to hear if you currently feel that you are living in a phase of life that reflects a second summer, or second earth and beyond!

Herbs for Every Stage of Life

We can learn from the  lessons of this ancient wisdom and nourish ourselves with appropriate herbal formulas to support each phase, encouraging holistic well-being and enjoying the cyclical ride of life. And the herbal blends suggested for each phase can be used at any time in life when you need a certain extra boost.

Click here to view Elix formulas, crafted to support you through the unique phases of your life!

Have questions about which herbs are best for you, or how to embrace your own journey navigating the seven year cycles? Talk to one of our health coaches - we love all things TCM philosophy and are happy to share more. Let your next seven year cycle be the most inspired, balanced, and fulfilled yet!

Start Enjoying All Phases of Life Now

This article was reviewed by Zoey Gong. 

Zoey Gong is a Traditional Chinese Medicine nutritionist, food therapist, and chef. Her recipes have been featured in various publications, including the cover of Food & Wine magazine in the February 2023 issue. She’s the author of The Five Elements Cookbook: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine with Recipes for Everyday Healing, where she guides readers in the basics of TCM through encyclopedic entries on common ingredients and 50 nourishing recipes.

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