Five Chinese Elements

Five Chinese Elements.

There is another concept to understand if one is to comprehend the philosphies that are involved in acupuncture. According to Chinese acupuncture, in addition to Yin and Yang, there are five elements that are in everything in the universe and as it applies to man, is vitally active in our bodies, as well as in all matter.

This concept also involves colors, emotions, qualities, and odor, to name a few.

The five Chinese elements are:

  1. Wood
  2. Fire
  3. Earth
  4. Metal
  5. Water

Just as both Yin and Yang are present in all things, so are the five Chinese elements in all things, although one may be dominant.

The following list may be helpful in understanding which element is associated primarily with which meridian:

ELEMENT YIN MERIDIAN YANG MERIDIAN
Wood Liver Gallbladder
Fire Heart Small Intestine
Heart-Constrictor Tri-Heater
Earth Spleen Stomach
Metal Lung Large Intestine
Water Kidney Bladder

The chart of the five elements below shows how each of the meridians influence and are influenced by each other.

Three cycles are included here:

  • Sheng Cycle (Augments and Creates)
  • Ko Cycle (Inhibits and Controls)
  • Luo Cycle (Equalizes)

Five Chinese Elements

Within this chart of the Five Chinese Elements one can observe the following concepts:

Cycle of Augmentation (Sheng Cycle) - This cycle involves producing and nourishing.

  • Wood produces and nourishes fire by burning.
  • Fire nourishes the earth by leaving ashes.
  • The earth nourishes or produces metal by organizing the elements left by fire into metal.
  • Metal both displaces water and creates more water by melting.
  • Water helps wood grow by irrigating.

Cycle of Inhibition (Ko Cycle) - This uses the idea of a master dominating the servant.

  • Wood dominates the earth by covering it.
  • Earth dominates water by damming it.
  • Water dominates fire by putting it out.
  • Fire dominates metal by melting it.
  • Metal dominates wood by cutting it.

The above two cycles can be looked at like this:

  • Wood (LV&GB) creates fire (HT/SI, HC/TH). It is master of earth (SP/ST), it is created by water (KI/BL), and it is the servant of metal (LU/LI).
  • Fire (HT/SI, HC/TH) is the creator of earth (SP/ST). It is master of metal (LU/LI), it is created by wood (LV/GB), and it is the servant of water(KI/BL).
  • Earth (SP/ST) is the creator of metal (LU/LI). It is the master of water (KI/BL), it is created by fire (HT/SI) and it is the servant of wood (LV/GB).
  • Metal (LU/LI)is the creator of water (KI/BL). It is master of wood (LV/GB), it is created by earth (SP/ST), and it is the servant of fire (HT/SI).
  • Water (KI/BL) is the creator of wood (LV/GB). It is master of fire (HT/SI), it is created by metal (LU/LI), and it is the servant of earth (SP/ST).

When a meridian is deficient or in excess (chi energy), it can be influenced by applying the interrelationships listed above. Just think of how they are influenced by other meridians and how they control others.

Luo Point Effect - When assessing deficiencies or excesses, one can stimulate the Luo point on a given meridian to open a channel so that chi can equalize between coupled meridians.

Acupuncture has been beneficial in helping numerous health care concerns that people experience. It is a concept well worth the effort to both experience and understand. When you seek to understand the concepts involved in acupuncture, you will understand that acupuncture is complex and involves many avenues of thinking.

In addition, even though we will not discuss these points here, you may want to understand such concepts as tonification, sedation, remote and local effects associated with stimulating points, intersection effects, contralateral effects, etc.

It really is so fascinating as you learn and understand all of the many parts of acupuncture or acupressure. I want to thank Dr. Cook for these two great pages which make a complicated subject very understandable. Hope you enjoy it.


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