The Importance Of The Five Elements In Chinese Medicine

This article briefly summarizes the complex relationships the various parts of our body have with each other. Compared to conventional Western medicine, Chinese Medicine is more superior in that it is holistic and searches for the underlying reason of a health issue. The Chinese Five elements theory is a mystical approach that connects energy channels within the body.

All things considered, if we’re able to command energy then we can control our health. How the Chinese traditionally see the universe negates the prospect of absolutes. The relationship of the human body between the zang fu (organs) and 5 elements can be seen this way:

Notes – Sheng, Chiao, Shang, Gong, Yu

Emotions – Fear/fright, melancholy/grief, worry, joy, anger, fear

Tissues – Bone, hair/skin, muscle, vessel, tendon

Sensory organs – Ear, nose, mouth, tongue, eye

Yang (Fu) – Bladder, large intestine, abdomen, small intestine, gall bladder

Yin (Hsang) – Kidney, lung, spleen, heart, liver

Elements – Water, metal, earth, fire, wood

In a manner of speaking, the energies of the Five Elements are believed to have the following generative abilities.

  • Water is inclined to generate Wood
  • Wood is inclined to generate Fire
  • Fire is inclined to generate Earth
  • Earth is inclined to generate Metal
  • Metal is inclined to generate Water

The Controlling Cycle produces balance and harmony through opposite and complementary dispositions. It is a kind of control in what would otherwise be an infinite increase.

The Controlling Cycle

  • Fire is inclined to control Metal
  • Metal is inclined to control Wood
  • Wood is inclined to control Earth
  • Earth is inclined to control Water
  • Water is inclined to control Fire

Broken Balance

When balance is broken among the Five Elements, the insulting and overreacting sequences govern the irregular relationship among the Five Elements.

The Overreacting Cycle is similar to the pattern of the Controlling Cycle except for the fact that each Element over-acts on another energetically by one excessive Element.

The opposite of the Overreacting Cycle is the Insulting Cycle in that it governs the energetics that is opposed to the Overreacting Cycle.

The Ten Stems of the Five Elements

Each of the Five Elements has a Yin and Yang constituent to it that balances the other.

If Yin reduces, Yang increases

If Yang increases, Yin reduces

If Yin increases, Yang reduces

If Yang reduces, Yin increases

Within each Element, an opposite and complementary balance is created.

Ten Heavenly Stems Generation Cycle

Following the dispositions of the Creative Cycle, the layout of the 10 Heavenly Stems reveals how the elements of Yang generate each other and the elements of Yin generate each other.

Without dispositions or checks to generate, the result would be an accumulation of the energies from one Aspect to the other.

This is balanced and checked by the Yin Yang expressions of each Element balancing each other throughout the system.

Another way the system maintains its balance is by the Yin or Yang aspect of any Element balancing on the Controlling Cycle of the Yang or Yin aspect of the Element it controls.

These dispositions are revealed below:

  • 10 Heavenly Stems
  • Balances to the Controlling Cycle
  • The balances follow a Yin-Yang pattern and are bi-directional – If Yang is reduced then Yin increases and vice versa.
  • Fire Yin generates Earth Yin producing Metal Yin that generates Water Yin.
  • Wood Yin generated by Water Yin produces Fire Yin.
  • The Yin energetics is the same as the aforementioned Yang elements.
  • The entire system is a delicate balance of all the components.

This system continues to maintain and generate itself in perfect harmony, but if any imbalance or disharmony anywhere in the system arises, various permutations of this imbalance may arise.

Symptoms that can be deemed as adverse effects can arise from the impact of the transformations. Sometimes, no symptoms are produced by the transformations.

Based on the power of either Yin or Yang, the energetic of the Yin-Yang of any Element may impact the other Element in some way.

The key to harmony is balance.

According to Lu Shih Chun Chiu, author of the book, Chinese Studies in Philosophy, “Water in the stream remains important, yet stagnant water does not, and the hinge is ageless, yet the remainder of the door does, is because they are moving.”

The same applies to the relationship of Chi and the form.

The essential Chi or jing will not move unless the form does. Chi stagnates the when the Jing does not stream or flow.

“If there is slow movement in the head, like wind, it becomes like a tumor. Deafness will occur if stagnation occurs in the ear.”

In the Chinese classic text Lunheng written around 80 AD, Chung states, “Illness is like chaos and confusion. The Shen and Jing become mixed up and confused.”

The Huai Nan Tsu espoused the complementary viewpoint that states, Order is the “coming through without hindrance” that brings about action.

Along with the Ten Stems, this relationship is an integral and vital approach and a much better guide to diagnostics, illness, symptoms, and energetics.

This is exciting since we become more capable if we comprehend this order and promote it.

Definitely, movement is important to wellbeing. The physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the body are connected to each other.

When you attempt to only bolster the physical, the system will eventually collapse – without yin, yang cannot exist.

This article is meant to point out the virtue of yin and yang and the endless number of dispositions related to each other and to make the reader realize that besides yin and yang, weak and strong, soft and hard, positive and negative, there exist an infinite number of relative energies between contradictory forces.

As with the several wavelengths of a magnetic field between the opposite poles, there are weak and strong areas as well as intervals between the opposites, and the infinite dispositions between yin and yang has its corresponding equivalents in ever changing and constantly moving strengths of energy.

Therefore, we come up with the incontrovertible fact that all things must move. Joints harden if they don’t move. The blood stagnates if it does not flow in the proper way. There is no Chi if the lungs do not function and death eventually follows. There needs to some kind of paradigm shift into the physical by doing – thinking and not doing is not enough.

For optimum health, balance is key in all activity.

Enliven Health and Wellness
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San Antonio, TX 78229
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