EMC Staff  







Five Element theory is one of the major systems of thought within traditional Chinese medicine. Also referred to as the “five phase” theory by some practitioners, Five Element theory has been used for more than 2,000 years as a method of diagnosis and treatment. While it is an important component of traditional Chinese medicine, today Five Element theory is not used by every practitioner of Oriental medicine; rather, it is employed to a certain degree, depending on the practitioner’s training and education.

The five elements
, or five-phase theory, is also grounded in the notion of harmony and balance. The concept of chi, which means "life force" or "energy," is perhaps most different from Western ideas. Traditional Chinese Medicine asserts that chi is an invisible energy force that flows freely in a healthy person, but is weakened or blocked when a person is ill. Specifically, the illness is a result of the blockage, rather than the blockage being the result of the illness. 


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Five Element Healing


The Five Element Theory, also called the five-phase theory, holds that everything in the universe, including our health, is governed by five natural elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. This theory underscores the Chinese Medicine understanding that human beings, both physically and mentally, are intertwined with nature. Although it is difficult for Westerners to relate this philosophy to the Western approach to medicine, it is fundamental to the understanding of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In the five element theory, each of the five elements has a season, particular organs, emotions and senses associated with it, such as taste, smell, color, sound. The wood element, for example, is associated with spring, the liver, and the gall bladder. Similarly, the fire element is associated with early summer, the heart, and small intestines; the earth element corresponds to late summer, the stomach and spleen; metal is associated with autumn, the lungs and large intestine; and water is associated with winter, the kidneys and bladder.

Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water are interrelated aspects of energy that are evident throughout nature, including in the human body. An individual's state of health manifests according to the balance between these Elements. In contrast to Western medicine's teaching of a separation between the mind and body, TCM views each organ as having particular body and mind functions, as illustrated in the belief that the liver is involved in planning, and in the storage of anger, while the gall bladder is the organ of decision-making.

At the heart of five element practice lies an understanding that the many physical ailments our society suffers from are often as much the product of emotional distress as of any physical cause. In many cases, they can only fully be alleviated when these inner stresses are addressed.

Five Element theory is used to help explain the cause(s) of particular diseases, and to associate signs or symptoms to particular organs and afflictions. In the context of “phases,” Five Element theory helps to explain the processes that are occurring the body throughout various stages of disease and healing. This is particularly useful in explaining the processes that take place during the generating and controlling cycles mentioned in Five Element theory.

It is the role and responsibility of a five element practitioner to learn to detect where  imbalances lie, and more importantly, from where they arise. We learn to develop the sensory skills of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and feeling - skills we are born with but rarely use in the modern world.

Five Element Healing principles help the practitioner to gain an understanding of the constitutional strengths and weaknesses of each individual. This understanding in turn helps the patient to gain a greater understanding of themselves.



For detailed information about Five Element Healing
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