5 elements of Chinese medicine
The core principles of the 5 elements of Chinese cosmology are based on the constant search for balance and harmony between the energies symbolized by the Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water elements.
In this article, we examine the role of the 5 elements of Nature in Chinese medicine and Feng Shui, how seasons are related to health in traditional Chinese medicine and which organs are related to each of the 5 elements. Finally, we list the meaning and psychological manifestations of each element in relation with their potential energetic states (deficiency, balanced, excess).
The Qi cycles of traditional Chinese medicine
The biological clock of the five elements
When energy imbalances are observed, traditional Chinese medicine relies on the biological clock of the cycles of Qi (vital breath) to establish a diagnosis and provide appropriate treatments. The biological clock is decomposed into 12 hours of two hours, each corresponding to an organ.
Each organ is also connected to one of the 5 elements, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal or Water. The 5 elements of Wu Xing can also be linked to the seasons: Wood for Spring, Fire for Summer, Metal for Autumn, Water for Winter, Earth for Inter-season.
Infography of the biological clock of Chinese medicine
Chinese seasons and their corresponding element
|🌳||Wood||February 14 - April 17||Spring|
|🗿||Earth||April 18 - May 3||5th Season|
|🔥||Fire||May 4 - July 17||Summer|
|🗿||Earth||July 18 - August 4||5th Season|
|🛠||Metal||August 5 - October 17||Fall|
|🗿||Earth||October 18 - November 4||5th Season|
|💧||Water||November 5 - January 16||Winter|
|🗿||Earth||January 17 - February 13||5th Season|
The 5 elements used in Chinese medicine and Feng Shui
Characteristics, Meanings and influence on health and personality
🌳 Wood element
Meaning of the Wood element: Spring, visual acuity, eyes, irritability, muscles, tendons, ligaments, elimination, birth, anger, aggression, gall bladder, liver, acid taste, wind, sigh, potassium, east, lukewarm, scream, wheat, the green color, the "cheee" sound, the planet Jupiter.
Psychological manifestations of the Wood element in a Chinese horoscope:
Wood deficiency: Guilt and depression.
Balanced Wood: Good self-esteem and lucid appreciation of one's abilities. More willingness and less hesitation for a better ability to anticipate, in the short term (reaction to an event) and in the long term (construction, realization and fulfillment).
Wood excess: Anger, irascibility, tendency to let oneself be carried away.
🔥 Fire element
Meaning of the Fire element: Summer, circulation, heart, blood vessels, small intestine, tongue, speech, heat, sweat, joy, millet, growth, excitement, laughter, bitter taste, throat, phosphorus, the red color, the "haaa" sound, the planet Mars.
Psychological manifestations of the Fire element in a Chinese horoscope:
Fire deficiency: Lack of vivacity, limpness, apathy.
Balanced Fire: Pleasant and profound emotion in the face of existence. Inspires one the will to do good around oneself. Good communication skills and good moral stability, which allow a better appreciation of one’s actions and a more impartial judgment in a stressful situation.
Fire excess: Nervousness, euphoria.
🗿 Earth element
Meaning of the Earth element: Inter-season, mouth, taste, lips, tact, song, rye, transformation, moisture, rumination, compassion, flesh, blood, inner liquids, saliva, smell, obsession, center, pancreas, spleen, stomach, sweet taste, humidity, sympathy, magnesium, the yellow and brown colors, the "ro-ro-ro" sound, the planet Saturn.
Psychological manifestations of the Earth element in a Chinese horoscope:
Earth deficiency: Lack of concentration, dependence on others.
Balanced Earth: Strength of empathy, ability to understand and share the suffering of others. Acute concentration of the mind on a single object. Faculty of in-depth reasoning on complex subjects. Good memory and realism.
Earth excess: Worry, compulsivity.
🛠 Metal element
Meaning of the Metal element: Autumn, drought, cool, decline, pungent taste, nose, lungs, skin, hair, grief, tears, crying, large intestine, sadness, mucus, rice, gathering, decline, harvest, west, calcium, the white, metal and gold colors, the sound "sssss", the planet Venus.
Psychological manifestations of the Metal element in a Chinese horoscope:
Metal deficiency: Insensitivity.
Balanced Metal: Ability to better overcome difficult events. Possibility to control pain and emotional suffering without being insensitive. Objectivity, ability to judge impartially. Insight.
Metal excess: Depression, self-pity.
💧 Water element
Meaning of the Water element: Winter, marrow, bones, joints, ear, hearing, saliva, cold, salty, bean, complaint, kidneys, bladder, urine, anxiety, stagnation, death, fear, setting aside, sodium, the black and blue colors, the sound "tcho", the planet Mercury.
Psychological manifestations of the Water element in a Chinese horoscope:
Water deficiency: Imprudence, carelessness, endangering one's own physical integrity. Clumsy communication, misunderstandings.
Balanced Water: Gives the necessary moral strength to overcome difficulties. Ability to concentrate energy towards action. Removes fear and shyness. Ability to avoid mistakes and bad luck. Greater caution also improves emotional and material security.
Water excess: Fear, panic.