The Five Elements

The Five Elements

The Five Elements or Wu Xing is another major aspect of the fundamental theory of Chinese medicine. They are the five basic substances that everything in world is made up from. They are:

  • Water.
  • Wood.
  • Fire.
  • Earth.
  • Metal.

Each of the elements has specific characteristics which are found in all aspects of nature, as well as in humans. They are also evident in the nature and characteristics of disease. By studying their interrelationships, how they move, interact and affect each other, one can understand disease and imbalances.

The Five Elements

 

 

 

Water – Shui: It is related to the season of Winter, the colour black, the climate of Cold and the flavour of saltiness. Water is related to the Kidney and Urinary Bladder.

The Five Elements

Wood – Mu: It is related to the season of Spring, the colour green, the climate of Wind and the flavour of sourness. Its’ corresponding organs are the Liver and Gall-Bladder.

The Five Elements

Fire – Huo: This corresponds to Summer, the colour red, the climate of Heat and the flavour of bitterness. Its’ related organs are the Heart and Small Intestine.

The Five Elements

Earth – Tu: This element is not related to any seasons. Its’ colour is yellow, its’ climate is Dampness and its’ flavour is sweetness. Its’ corresponding organs are the Spleen and Stomach. 

The Five Elements

Metal – Jin: Metal is the element of Autumn. Its’ colour is white and its’ climate is dryness. It is connected to pungent flavours. The corresponding organs of Metal are the Lungs and Large Intestines.

In Chinese philosophy, the Five Elements (Wu Xing) are closely related to cycles or phases of nature and cosmology. In terms of health, they can be interpreted in a variety of ways and we describe these as sequences. The three main cycles are the Generating Cycle, the Controlling Cycle and the Insulting Cycle. The cycles provide information on how the Five Elements (Wu Xing) interact when in balance. They also provide information of clinical benefit when they are out of balance therefore aiding TCM diagnosis.