The Five Elements in Acupuncture
Fire and Earth, Metal, Water and Wood
In Chinese philosophy, the five elements reflect both the cosmic structure and natural phenomena of the physical universe. Conceptually, they illustrate the complex interactions and relationships, the interdependence and mutual restraint, the Yin-Yang of the universe.
The primordial source. Providing light and heat, fire is the beginning and the end, the spark of life and the dying ember. The “Big Bang” if you will.
The ashy residue of the dying ember. A fertile planet, earth is the aboriginal mother.
The hardened igneous remains after the red-hot, molten concoction roiling deep in the indigenous belly explodes through a week point in the skin of the earth.
Two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen–earth’s most abundant molecule–is in constant flux: freezing, melting, and evaporating. Showering the earth, water nourishes all sentient life. Destructive as well–given time, it will break rock, grind pieces into pebbles, and pebbles into grains of sand.
Rooting itself in the earth, wood holds the grainy soil together. Water feeds wood. Wood feeds fire. Ashes to ashes: Wood collapses. Water douses the dying embers. The ashy residue reconstitutes. The earth refortifies. The world rejuvenates.
Each individual, from birth to death, has an underlying constitutional foundation reflecting one of the five elements. Correspondingly, that foundational element is predictive of one’s general attitude, outlook and emotional disposition.
Before differentiating symptoms of illness, a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner must first diagnose the patient’s elemental constitutional type. This is done through observation. Below is a brief description of how the organs and elements are related to the various qualities a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner will observe before making a diagnosis.
Generation and Control Cycles of Qi Flow
Below are further correspondences of each element:
Organ: Heart/Pericardium/Small Intestine/Triple-Warmer
Season: Late Summer
Organ: Lung/Large Intestine
Organ: Kidney/Urinary Bladder
Organ: Liver/Gall Bladder