The five elements is a cornerstone of ancient Chinese medicine and has been used for thousands of years to help practitioners of the Chinese herbalism and acupuncture interpret health and disease.
The theory of the five elements came about from the ancient masters of Chinese medicine observing the changes of nature and their impact upon health and disease. As such, they categorised everything into the elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
When it comes to the human body they also divided the twelve main organs into the five elements. These categorisations are;
- Wood = Liver and Gallbladder
- Fire = Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium and Three Heater
- Earth = Spleen and Stomach
- Metal = Lung and Colon
- Water = Kidney and Bladder
The Sheng and Ke Cycles
The Sheng and Ke cycles, which are also known as the feeding and controlling cycles respectively, are two natural movements of the energetics between the five elements and interprets how the different organs and elements help to feed, compliment and control (hold in place) each other. For example, fire feeds earth but it also controls metal, earth feeds metal but it also controls water, metal controls wood but it also feeds water, water feeds wood but it also controls fire and wood feeds fire but it also controls earth.
When these dynamics are out of balance then ill health can occur. Therefore, the Chinese medical practitioner aims to see where these dynamics may be out of balance and work to restore the harmony between these organs and elements.
More Info On The Five Elements
Here is a great explanation of the five elements in more detail by Joel Penner