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The 5 Elements (metal, wood, water, fire, Earth) in Chinese Philosophy

The Yin and Yang philosophy was further refined into the system of the five elements to gain a deeper understanding of how the body, mind and spirit work and acupuncture. The five elements refer to wood, fire, earth, metal and water.Woodcorresponds to the liver, tendons and eyes.Firecorresponds to the heart, blood vessels and tongue.Earthcorresponds to the spleen, flesh and month.Metalcorresponds to the lungs, skin, hair and nose. AndWatercorresponds to the kidneys, bones and ears. These five elements can be related to our four seasons, can also be related to different colors, emotion, taste, voice, a various organs and selection of food and herbs. In Chinese medical philosophy, the five elements theory consists of four laws governing the relationships among the five materials. The five viscera are viewed as the key organs and the four laws are applied to them. The four laws are the laws of production, control, attack and resisting control.                                                       


The laws of production and control are used to illustrate the interrelationships among the viscera. For instance, the liver controls the spleen (which is called wood controlling earth), the spleen produces the lung (which is called earth producing metal) and the lungs control the liver (which is called metal controlling wood). There are patterns of relationship among the five viscera according to the laws. The laws of attack and resisting control are used to describe pathological changes as well as methods of treatment. For example, since liver disease will affect the spleen, it is called wood attaching earth and should be treated by inhibiting wood and supporting earth. And in treating lungs energy deficiency syndrome, it is necessary to strengthen the spleen and tone up the lungs, which is called developing earth in order to produce metal.

The five elements theory is based upon clinical experiences and very useful in clinical practice.

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