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The Five Elements in Chinese Medicine

The five elements in Chinese medicine refer to the fundamental components and cycles of Mother Nature.  The theory behind Chinese medicine is based on the relationship between these elements. The elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Wood feeds fire. Fire creates ash which forms the earth. Metal is formed in the earth. When metal is heated, water vapor forms. This water feeds the trees made of wood.

Each element corresponds to a part of the body.  Each one can increase health or deplete Qi, which adversely affects health.


Wood corresponds to the liver and gall bladder. Ailments associated with wood include brittle nails, migraines, eye problems, hernias, sinus problems and fibroids. They occur when wood Qi is weak or stagnant.


Fire is associated with the heart and small intestines. When the fire Qi is weakened, anxiety, insomnia, and blood problems can occur. It can also lead to stuttering, talking too fast, or nervous laughter. Sores on the mouth or tongue may occur as well.


Earth corresponds to the stomach and spleen. Weak earth Qi can lead to digestive problems, gas, bloating, eating disorders, worrying, cloudy thinking and heartburn.


The element metal is tied to the lungs and large intestines. When there is an imbalance or blockage of Qi related to the metal organs, lung illnesses can occur. Asthma, allergies, colds and problems with constipation and diarrhea all present themselves as symptoms when there is a metal Qi problem.


The water element is related to the kidneys and bladder. When there is an imbalance, metabolic problems are likely to occur.  Fertility and sexual disorders may also present themselves when water Qi is weakened.

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