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Traditional Chinese Medicine and 5 Element

5 Elements

Five Element Theory is a Chinese Philosophy used to describe interactions and relationships between things. The five elements wood, fire, earth, metal, water are believed to be the fundamental elements of everything in the universe between which interactions occur.

Five elements theory first appeared during the Spring and Autumn period ( 770 - 476 BC). it has become widely used in Chinese medicine, philosophy, fengshui, fortune-telling and martial arts.

Each element has its own characteristics and associations with different aspects of nature, such as direction, season, colour and so on. According to the 5 elements, each emotion corresponds to an element. Bad emotions can damage these organs, with reflexology we can make you feel relaxed, thus achieving the effect of curing disease.

Chinese Medicine Diagram


Heart (yin) /Small Intestine (yang)

Colour: Red ( yang ), Purple ( yin )

Season: Summer  Weather: Hot  Direction: South

Sound: Laugh  Odour: Scorched  Taste: Bitter

Emotion: Joy/Sadness  Virtue: Propriety  Planet: Mars

Spectrum of Behavioural Responses in a Fire Element

  1. Compulsively Cheerful – Miserable

  2. Open and overly Sociable – Closed and Isolated

  3. Clowning – Earnest

  4. Vulnerable – Over Protected

  5. Volatile – Flat

Main Issues of Concern in a Fire Element

  1. Happiness and Emotional Volatility

  2. Closeness and Intimacy

  3. Love and Warmth

  4. Clarity and Confusion

  5. Control or Helplessness

If the Heart is out of balance, a person often feels sad or broken-hearted or they may become overexcited. They may feel out of control of themselves and their environment.

Heart blockages or weakness can manifest physically as problems with high or low blood pressure, angina, headaches, fevers, problems with speech, throat or the tongue.

Small Intestine unbalance can cause difficulty in recognizing priorities, as the Small intestine sorts the pure from the impure on a level of body, mind and spirit.


 The Pericardium the Heart Protector, the guardian of the heart. Physically the Pericardium surrounds the heart protecting this most important organ. Emotionally and Spiritually it protects the emotions and harm attacking the Heart.

Trowel and Soil


Spleen (yin), Stomach (yang)

Colour: Yellow ( yang ), Gold ( yin )

Season: Late Summer  Weather: Damp  Direction: Centre

Sound: Sing  Odour: Fragrant  Taste: Sweet

Emotion: sympathy/worry  Virtue: Fidelity/Honesty

  Planet: Saturn

Spectrum of Behavioural Responses in an Earth Element

  1. Smothering or Mothering – Not supporting

  2. Feeling Needy – Repressing Needs

  3. Excessive Independence – Dependency

  4. Uncentred and Dispersed – Heavy or Stuck

  5. Over-dependant on security of the Home – Inability to Put Down Roots

  6. Overthinking, Worry-Sympathy

Main Issues of Concern in an Earth Element

  1. Feeling Supported

  2. Getting Nourished

  3. Being Centred and Stable

  4. Mental Clarity

  5. Being Understood

Spleen and Stomach organs are connected with the element of earth. When the Spleen is out of balance, the person can be very anxious, worrisome and pensive.

When someone has Spleen blockages and or weakness, they can get problems with mouth, muscle and dampness. This is due to lack of transformation of fluids through digestion. They can experience heaviness and slowness both emotionally and physically.

The Stomach function is to rot and ripen in order to digest physical, mental and spiritual nourishment. Emotional factors can cause digestive problems and lead to comfort eating attempting to fill your centre.


Lungs (yin), Large Intestine (yang)

Colour: White ( yang ), Silver ( yin )

Season: Autumn  Weather: Dry  Direction: West

Sound: Weeping  Odour: Rotten  Taste: Spicy

Emotion: Grief  Virtue: Righteousness  Planet: Venus 

Spectrum of Behavioural Responses in a Metal Element

  1. Fragile – Unyielding

  2. Cut off – Seeking Connection

  3. Resigned or Inert –  Overworking and Achieving

  4. Craving Quality and Purity – Messy and Polluted

  5. Deeply Motivated – Nonchalant

Main Issues of Concern in a Metal Element

  1. Grief and Loss

  2. Recognition

  3. Approval

  4. Feeling Complete

  5. Feeling Adequate in the World, Finding Meaning

When the lungs are out of balance, the person can feel loss and become an uninspired type of person. They find it hard to move into the future and can be jealous, grief-stricken, searching for quality and recognition. They may gather things of quality around them to help feel valued.

The Large intestine is the ‘drainer of the dregs’ of body, mind and spirit sorting out and letting go. This is important so internal pollution does not build up in a physical way. If mentally congested there can be difficulties to move on with life and to find quality from experiences.

With Metal imbalance there can be blockages or weakness. These can cause nose problems, dry or brittle hair problems, respiratory problems such as colds and flu. Difficulties with intimacy and relationship problems, seeking or rejecting value, accepting praise taking on new ideas and letting go. Also a general lack of energy and inspiration in their lives, due to being obstructed.

Stainless Steel


Kidneys (yin), Bladder (yang)

Colour: Black ( yang ), Grey ( yin )

Season: Winter  Weather: Cold  Direction: North

Sound: Groan  Odour: Putrid  Taste: Salty

Emotion: Fear  Virtue: Wisdom  Planet: Mercury

Spectrum of Behavioural Responses in an Water Element

  1. Risk Taking – Fearing the Worst or Overcautious

  2. Distrusting, Double Checking, Trusting

  3. Intimidating – Reassuring

  4. Driven – No Drive

  5. Agitation – Paralysis

Main Issues of Concern in an Water Element

  1. Needing to be Safe

  2. Being Reassured

  3. Trusting

  4. Drive

  5. Excitation or Stimulation in Danger

Kidneys are the servant of life they have both control and strength to keep life on a firm footing. If the kidneys are out of balance, a person often feels scared, frightened and fearful, they can be hypersensitive, mistrusting and even paranoid.

The Bladder’s main function is to is to transform and move the Qi, keeping all the body fluids in the right place and keeping the natural quality and quantity. Up to 60% of the body is water, the bladder has a crucial role to do with the functions associated with body fluids.

Water blockages and or weakness can manifest physically as ear, hair and tooth problems, urinary infections, kidney stones, infertility, sexual problems, dull headaches, lower back, leg and knee problems, oedema, a lack of willpower and determination and kidney disease.


Liver (yin), Gallbladder (yang)

Colour: Green ( yang ), Blue ( yin )

Season: Spring  Weather: Windy  Direction: East

Sound: Shout  Odour: Rancid  Taste: Sour

Emotion: Anger  Virtue: Benevolence  Planet: Jupiter

Spectrum of Behavioural Responses in a Wood Element

  1. Assertive or Direct – Passive or Indirect

  2. Seeking Justice – Apathetic

  3. Rigid – Over flexible

  4. Excessively organised – Disorganised

  5. Frustrated – Defiant

  6. Over Obedient – Compliant

  7. Decisive –  Indecisiveness

Main Issues of Concern in a Wood Element

  1. Boundaries

  2. Power

  3. Being correct

  4. Personal growth

  5. Development

Liver and Gallbladder organs are connected with the element of Wood. When the Liver is out of balance, the person can be very resistant and become literally a ‘stick in the mud’ type of person, who finds it hard to uproot themselves and adapt to changes. They can become inflexible, irritable, and nervous and even become angry, the liver promotes the free flow of emotions.

When someone has liver blockages and or weakness,  they may have eye problems, nail problems, liver diseases like Jaundice, twitching, sharp headaches. Problems and pains will move around the body like the wind moves. Limbs may become arthritic; tendons and ligaments tighten causing difficulty in movement.

The Liver influences menstruation, the blood flow with heavy or lack of periods, painful periods and can affect fertility.

If the Liver and Gall bladder to not digest and assimilate foods well it can cause pain and stagnation.

Emotional responses may turn into impatient outbursts of anger, shouting at people and things in attempt to control a situation that they feel has lost control, maybe from bad planning. 

Fire Wood
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