Understanding the Five Elements

Those born in the spring season between

  • 19 February and 4 May is “Metal Deficient”
  • 5 May to 7 August is “Water Deficient”
  • 8 August to 7 November is “Wood Deficient”
  • 8 November to 18 February is “Fire Deficient”

According to this philosophy, no one element can be called the strongest or the weakest. Like the Yin and Yang, they are forever interdependent and always equal in strength. They are eternally joined in the chain of life that brings about their existence.

In Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, the elements rule the ten major organs of the body. Metal is linked to the lungs and large intestine. Fire controls the heart and small intestine. Water is associated with the kidneys and bladder. Earth rules the spleen and stomach. And Wood is identified with liver. So when a Chinese doctor, herbalist or acupuncturist treats an illness. He has to keep these interrelations “Controlling” and “Generating” in mind.

The Generating and Controlling Sequences:

Wood generates Fire and generated by Water. So we can say that the “liver is the mother of the heart and the child of the kidneys”

Here are some examples of Generating sequence relationship:
The liver is the mother of the heart. The liver stores blood and blood houses the mind. If liver blood is weak, the heart will suffer.

The heart is the mother of the spleen. Heart Qi pushes the blood and thus helps the spleen function of transportation.

The spleen is the mother of the lungs. Spleen Qi provides food Qi to the lungs where it interacts with air to form the gathering Qi.

The lungs are the mother of the kidneys. Lungs Qi descends to meet kidneys Qi. The lungs also send fluids down to the kidneys.

The kidneys are the mother of the liver. Kidneys yin nourishes liver blood.

The Controlling Sequences:

The liver controls the stomach and spleen: Liver can actually interfere with and impair the stomach and spleen functions.

The heart controls the lungs: Heart and lungs are closely related as they are both situated in upper burner. The heart governs blood and lungs govern Qi. Qi and blood mutually assist and nourish each other.

The spleen controls the kidneys: both spleen and kidneys transform body fluids. The spleen activity in transforming and transporting fluids is essential to the kidneys transformation and excretion of fluids.

The lungs control the liver: the lungs send Qi downwards, whereas the liver spreads Qi upwards. If lung Qi is weak and cannot descend, liver Qi may tend to rise too much. When a deficiency of the lung Qi leads to rising of liver yang or stagnation of liver Qi.

The kidneys control the heart: kidneys and heart actually assist and support each other proper interaction between kidneys and heart is essential for health.