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The Chinese Medicine Sampler - Foundation Concepts

Foundations Main

Definition of Qi

Definition of Health

Hierachy of Healing

Organ Functions

Yin & Yang Page 1

Yin & Yang Page 2

Wu Xiang
The 5 Elements

The 6 External Qi

Jing Qi - Essence

Shen Qi - Spirit

The 8 Principles

THE FIVE ELEMENTS

Another powerful tool of analysis and organization in Oriental Medicine is called the Five Phases or Elements Theory or The Medicine of Correspondences. Being in harmony with the universe was very important to the Taoists. The fundamental processes of the universe were thus also considered a good basis for understanding the world. Five Element Theory is an attempt to classify existence according to these processes.

Through both observation and theorizing, numerous correspondences were discovered. Things as diverse as compass directions, taste, human organs, sounds, grains, emotions, animals, and stages of growth were found to have something in common. They were associated in discernible patterns; The Five Phases. Being naturalist philosophers the Taoists took the names of the categories of correspondence from nature. The Five Elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal.

Abbreviated Table of Correspondences

Abbreviated Table of Correspondences
 
WATER
WOOD
FIRE
EARTH
METAL
Season
Winter
Spring
Summer
Late Summer
Autumn
Climatic Qi
Cold
Wind
Heat
Damp
Dryness
Yang Organ
Bladder
Gallbladder
Sm. Intestine
Stomach
Lg. Intestine
Yin Organ
Kidney
Liver
Heart
Spleen
Lung
Sense Organ
Ears
Eyes
Tongue
Mouth
Nose
Body Tissue
Bone
Sinews
Blood Vessel
Muscles
Skin
Emotion
Fear
Anger
Joy/Shock
Worry
Sadness
Color
Black
Green
Red
Yellow
White
Taste
Salty
Sour
Bitter
Sweet
Spicy

It's a short jump from the principle of the inter-connectedness of all things to the principle that all things contain a microcosm of the universe. Being a part of the universe man contains a microcosm of it. Man therefore embodies the fundamental processes of the universe; AKA The Five Phases or Elements. This being the case man can be analyzed according to the Five Elemensts.

Let’s examine a simplified case. A 32 year old man had a fight with his wife during breakfast. He became very 1) angry and forgot about finishing his meal. He presented at the clinic with 2) strong cramping pain around the lower right front ribs, 3) nausea, 4) greenish facial complexion, 5)and a frontal headache which seemed to affect his eyes.

Anger is the emotion of Wood
Possible gallbladder pain. - Wood Yang organ
Nausea - Earth Yang Organ -Stomach
Green is the color of wood
Eyes are the sense organs of Wood
Diagnosis: The gentleman’s Wood element is out of balance and 
is affecting his Earth element.

Relationships Among the Elements

The Shen or Nourishing Cycle
The clockwise sequence on the circle represents the Shen cycle. The Shen cycle is often called the nourishing cycle or the mother-son cycle. Each element is mother to the next element. Water nourishes Wood, Wood fuels Fire, Fire makes Earth (ashes), Earth yields Metal, Metal produces Water (e.g. condensation).

Shen Cycle

The Ko or Regulating Cycle
The clockwise sequence depicted by the pentagon represents the regulating or destructive cycle. Water can extinguish Fire, Fire can melt Metal, Metal can cut Wood, Wood can contain Earth and Earth can absorb Water. The Ko cycle is often referred to as the grandmother-son cycle.

Ko cycle

It has been said that Confucian social theory considered this to be the natural order of things though a few moments thought about real families suggests that the Ko cycle is probably an ideal and not a reflection of reality. Water extinguishes Fire, Fire melts or tempers Metal, Metal cuts and shapes Wood, Wood can contain Earth, Earth absorbs Water. When balanced these are the healthy relationships of the Five Elements.

 

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