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Theories of TCM, The Five Elements

Theories of TCM, The Five Elements

WU XING: The Five Elements,
and the Correspondences

A Storm in the Mountains, and the Valley is Flooded

A Unique Way to Understand How Things Interact

WU XING, has been translated in many different ways.  It's been called the Five Elements, Five Phases, Five Agents, and other names.  Viewing nature through the gaze of the 5 Elements enables a practitioner to understand how the internal organs interact with one another.  This helps to determine the root of the disharmony and may also help to determine a method and course of treatment.

Relationships Between the Organs:

It is obvious that our body’s organs are dependent on one another. The Five Elements is a theory that helps us to understand these relationships. According to this schema, there exist five elemental types. These elements are known as Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. Each element relates to the other according to two cycles of influence. Disharmony in one element will thus create disharmony in others according to these cycles.  The two cycles are:

1- The generating cycle (clockwise effecting the next element)) For example, the Liver, overheated by anger, can attack the heart, 

2- The checking cycle (counter clockwise, skipping over the preceding element). For example, Insomnia from Heart Fire can be caused by Kidneys, weakened by overwork.

Correspondance: Another Idea About How Things Relate To One Another Within the WU XUNG

Some consider the theory of WU XING as separate from the theory of Correspondence, but it's easy to see how they work together as a system for diagnosis and treatment. 

Each element corresponds to a major organ system. Each type also has corresponding tastes, colors, odors, and emotions. Some of these correspondences are: 


Some WU XING Corresponences






Season Spring Summer Late Summer  Autumn Winter
Climate Wind Heat Damp Dry Cold
Direction East South Center West North
Zhang Organ Liver Heart Spleen Lung  Kidney
Fu Organ G.Bladder S. Intestine Stomach Colon U. Bladder
Tissue Sinews Vessels Muscles Skin Bone
Finger Thumb Middle Ring Index Little
Oraface Eyes Tongue Mouth Nose Ears
Sense Seeing Tasting Touching Smelling Listening
Taste Sour Bitter Sweet Spicy
Color Green Red Yellow White Black
Negative Emotion Anger Hate Worry Grief
Positive Emotion Patience
Love Empathy Courage Calm
Dissolves Water Wood Fire Earth Metal
Generates Fire Earth Metal Water Wood
Conflicts Metal Water Wood Fire Earth
Subdues Earth Metal Water Wood Fire  


 Next, The Eight Principles

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