Thursday, February 23, 2012

Application of the five elements theory

Correlations within the Five Elements


Phenomena in the natural world are grouped into one of the five elements according to their properties, functions and appearance, but other correlations can be made among them. By using wood as an example, we can illustrate its many relationships with nature and the body. In spring, wood is in season, and the climate is warm and windy. Young grass and trees start to germinate and grow. A green colour covers the grasslands and forests forming a refreshing picture. Spring, wind, germination and the colour green all belong to the wood element and relate to each other in a synergistic way.

In the body, the liver, which is also part of the wood element, is responsible for spreading and ensuring the smooth flow of qi like the wind spreads around air. In Chinese terms, the function is described as "sprinkling". Similar to germinating grass, the liver needs to be soft, light and gentle for a desirable healthy state. In addition, the liver is also physiologically and functionally related to the eyes and gall bladder. We can understand their connections better with the example of jaundice. People who have jaundice caused by gall bladder obstruction or liver malfunction will have yellow eyes.
Wood
Orientation East
Season Spring
Climate Wind
Cultivation Germinate
Yin Organ Liver
Yang Organ Gall Bladder
Orifice Eye
Tissues Tendons
Emotions Anger
Colour Blue/ Green
Taste Sour
Voice Shout

Diagnostic and Therapeutic Applications of Selected Organs

Kidneys

The kidneys belong to the water element. Just as water supports the growth and development of plants, the kidneys support the birth, development and maturation of humans. Storage of "jing" is the main function of the kidneys. "Jing" is a substance essential for reproduction, development and maturation, and additionally it provides vitality for performing daily life activities. Therefore, in TCM the kidneys are known as the root of life.

Being from the water element, the kidneys also control water, so disharmony of water in the body can also be a sign of kidney disharmony. For example, urinary incontinence (the inability to control proper urination) indicates a kidney deficiency. Hearing disorders or even deafness can also occur in elderly people who are kidney deficient. This is because the kidneys are connected with the ears, which belong to the water element under the orifice classification
.


Colour is another indication of kidney disharmony. Renal (kidney) failure patients often have a darker skin complexion than their normal colouring. From a western medicine perspective, this is due to the kidneys being unable to excrete uremic toxins that build up in the blood and body. Since ancient times, TCM practitioners have also been able to diagnose renal failure because they associated the "blackening" of the skin with kidney disharmony. This is due to the fact both the colour black and the kidneys are grouped under the water element. Another example of this type of correlation is the emotion of fear. A person who is fearful in a particular situation may experience urinary incontinence. Again, the relationship of fear to the kidneys and bladder under the water element is what causes urinary incontinence to occur and not something else.

Water
Orientation North
Season Winter
Climate Cold
Cultivation Store
Yin Organ Kidney
Yang Organ Bladder
Orifice Ear
Tissues Bones
Emotions Fear
Colour Black
Taste Salty
Voice Groan


Liver  

As previously mentioned, the liver belongs to the wood element and controls the flow of qi. If a person has angry emotions, the liver will be adversely affected and liver disharmony can manifest as a shady green colour on the face. Since the liver is connected to the eyes, some types of dizziness and eye disorders are related to liver dysfunction from a TCM point of view. By restoring normal liver function, the eye problem will automatically be cured.

Wood
Orientation East
Season Spring
Climate Wind
Cultivation Germinate
Yin Organ Liver
Yang Organ Gall Bladder
Orifice Eye
Tissues Tendons
Emotions Anger
Colour Blue/ Green
Taste Sour
Voice Shout

How Generation and Restriction Works

The story of a clever doctor

There once was a newly elected mayor who came to a village to help the people. Being new, he met many challenges in governing the village and was overwhelmed by his tasks. Soon, he experienced profound pensiveness and felt very sick. One day, he invited a renowned village doctor to his house to help cure him. The doctor felt his pulse and then thought for a while. Suddenly, he had a crazy idea and said, "Congratulations, mayor! Your symptoms are signs of pregnancy. Don't worry too much. You will get better soon." No sooner had the doctor spoken, the mayor shouted angrily, "Get out! I am male. How can I be pregnant? How ridiculous you are!" A short time later, the mayor's illness disappeared, just as the doctor had predicted.

How was the mayor cured? The answer lies in the generation and restriction abilities of the five elements. According to TCM, the mayor's sickness belonged to earth disharmony, because pensiveness is part of the element earth. Excessive pensiveness harms the spleen, which is also part of the element earth, but wood restricts earth. While anger is the emotion of liver and wood element, sudden and excessive anger can easily inhibit the excessive earth. Therefore, the renowned doctor deliberately made the mayor angry and effectively neutralized his pensiveness. By controlling the mayor's excessive earth element, his body's harmony was restored and he was cured.


The Five Elements and a Healthy Lifestyle

The relationships of the five elements play an important role in maintaining a balanced lifestyle. This is illustrated in season changes. During the spring season, which belongs to the wood element, we should avoid excessive anger in order to stay healthy. In the winter season, which belongs to the water element, our bodies prefer to store energy so rest is important. Storage is an important function of the water element; therefore, in winter it is advisable for people to go to bed early. Even today, the application of the five elements theory remains relevant in promoting health. Understanding the relationships between the elements is the first step to achieve a harmonious balance in nature and life.

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