TCM / Five-Element theory


Five-Element theory of China

As one of the most important achievements of Chinese philosophy, the Five-element Theory talks about the movement and transformation of five elements which are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. It is thought by the Chinese classic philosophy that all components of the universe are made of by the movement and transformation among these five elements. Hippocrates, known as”the father of medicine in western countries”, pointed out that there were four fundamental elements that made up the world, namely, Fire, Gas, Water, and Earth. The Four-Element Theory and Five-Element Theory show the similarity between the medical concepts of the eastern world and the western world.

Characteristics of Wood: growing, developing and relaxing; characteristics of Fire: warm and uprising: characteristics of Earth: generating, bearing and accepting; characteristics of Metal: clean, pure and contracting; characteristics of Water: cold, nourishing, moistening and descendant. These five elements interact with each other: the interaction that one element promotes and breeds another is called “generating”, and one restrains and restricts another is called”overcoming”. Generating: Wood feeds Fire; Fire creates Earth; Earth bears Metal; Metal carries Water; Water nourishes Wood. Overcoming: Wood parts Earth; Metal chops Wood; Fire melts Metal; Water quenches Fire; Earth dams Water.

The Five-element Theory applied in the TCM embodies the mutual relationships among the five Zang-viscera of the human body. Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water stand for liver, heart, spleen, lung, and kidney, respectively. What TMC cares most is to balance among different parts of the human body by traditional Chinese medicine, massage, acupuncture, and moxibustion or even psychotherapy for the health of the body as a whole.

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