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The 5 Elements in TCM

The 5 element theory in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) describes the relationship of the elements wood, fire, earth, water and metal in the body. Each element has correlating channel/organ, sense organ, season, color, personality and more.

The Elements are standing in different relationships with each other. For TCM practitioners it's important to know the interactions of the Elements to find the cause of the disease and to differentiate the symptoms.

The elements generate (support) each other, control each other and they can injure each other.

The Elements are:


Yin Channel/Organ: Liver

Yang Channel/Organ: Gallbladder

Sense Organ: Eyes

Tissue: Sinews (tendons)

Emotion: Anger

Season: Spring

Color: Green

Taste: Sour

Climate: Wind



Yin Channel/Organ: Heart

Yang Channel/Organ: Small Intestine

Sense Organ: Tongue

Tissue: Blood Vessels

Emotion: Joy

Season: Summer

Color: Red

Taste: Bitter

Climate: Heat



Yin Channel/Organ: Spleen

Yang Channel/Organ: Stomach

Sense Organ: Mouth

Tissue: Muscles

Emotion: Worry

Season: change of season from into to other

Color: Yellow

Taste: Sweet

Climate: Dampness



Yin Channel/Organ: Lung

Yang Channel/Organ: Large Intestine

Sense Organ: Nose

Tissue: Skin

Emotion: Grief

Season: Autumn

Color: White

Taste: pungent

Climate: Dryness



Yin Channel/Organ: Kidney

Yang Channel/Organ: Urinary Bladder

Sense Organ: Ears

Tissue: Bones

Emotion: Fear

Season: Winter

Color: Black

Taste: Salty

Climate: Cold

Their relationships with each other:

The Generating cycle is shown with the green arrows. Earth generates Metal, Metal generates Water, Water generates Wood and Wood generates Fire.

Thousand of years ago when Traditional Chinese Medicine started to develop the practitioners of that practice watched nature and our interactions with nature very closely. We are part of nature and so it makes sense to find the elements that are found in nature can be found within us.

For example the Spleen and Stomach belong to the earth element. The stomach breaks down food into small nutritional parts, just as the organisms do in the soil. They break down old leaves, and plant parts into small nutritional parts to make them available again for other plants to use so they can grow.

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