five elements, chinese medicine


As a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, one of the questions I am most commonly asked is what is my zodiac animal and what element am I? In Chinese Medicine we believe that the five elements play a role in balancing energy in the body, contributing to everything from personality traits to your health and well-being.

As we move into the Year of the Tiger, ushering in themes of determination, enthusiasm, and fearlessness, there’s no better time to learn more about the 2,000-year-old system of the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

The animal corresponding to the year you were born is only one part of your Chinese zodiac; the philosophy of the Five Elements is another. Drawn from the Chinese concept of Wu Xing, or Five Element Theory, it shows us how the structures and systems in our body are connected to each other and the effects that the wider world has on them. The Five Elements prescribes that being out of harmony and balance with the forces of the universe is the root cause of disease.


It all starts with Physics

We are living in a fascinating age where Western science is aligning to Eastern philosophy. Qi is, quite simply, energy and quantum physicists have identified a concept that explains it. This is known as String Theory, a unified theory of the universe that says that the fundamental ingredients of nature are not zero-dimensional point particles but tiny one-dimensional filaments called strings. A ‘string ’has its own vibrational pattern. These tiny loops of string make up the smallest physical units to make up an atom. Atoms then collect together to form a molecule, which make up anything and everything. The Chinese Masters believe these ‘strings ’vibrate in five different ways to form all substance and matter, and this is the fundamental concept of the Five Elements. In terms of Chinese Medicine, the vibrational energy that these tiny loops of string move with is called Qi.



The Five Elements

The five elements control everything from our emotions, to health, well-being and the flow of Qi through our bodies. The Five Elements is a fundamental theory of Chinese medicine. It holds that everything in the universe can be categorised into one of five groups – Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.

These elements create a continuous cycle of energy, in an ideal world all five elements would be in balance and harmony, but with the pressures of modern society, this is rare. According to Chinese medicine, the moment of your birth determines how much each element has an impact on you. You can have too much or too little of an element, which can cause illness or emotional difficulties if you don’t compensate for it.

As a Chinese medicine practitioner, I am always looking for ways to balance my patients, and myself; and the answer is within the ancient practice of Yang Sheng. Despite having such ancient roots, I’ve seen how Yang Sheng can deal with the challenges of modern life, from stress to sleeplessness and anxiety to acne. That’s because it’s based on Chinese medicine’s holistic and sophisticated understanding of how we function.

5 Elelements of Chinese medicine

The Organs in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, the whole health of the body is ruled by our organs. Consider your organs as little mini kingdoms. They all have territories, rivers of Qi that interact and weave all over the body like a canal system. Each element has a Yin and Yang organ, which relate to how our bodies function and remain healthy.

In Chinese wisdom, any symptoms of ill health will always relate to one of these five key organs. These are the Heart, Lung, Liver, Stomach/Spleen and Kidney, all of which relate to a certain emotion, colour, sound, emotion, climate, body part, flavour and sense.


How Do The Five Elements Affect Me?

If your Five Elements are in perfect balance, then you will be in good physical and mental health. If they are not, then this will be the root cause of any illness. Modern living often knocks our Five Elements off-kilter. Therefore, we must work to harmonise them ourselves – and we can do this by aligning more with nature. Understanding the energetic make-up of the Five Elements can help us to live in greater harmony with our bodies.

In Chinese wisdom, the moment of your birth determines how much each element has an impact on you. This framework helps us to understand how forces of nature interact and react to each other and how nature interacts with the body. When I read charts during Bazi readings, I have found a number of patients often identify with one element, actually feeling as if the section on that element has been personally written about them. This process is my favourite part of getting to know the patient, as it aligns with a sort of ‘awakening ’phase of the path to recovery. Usually, after discovering your true element you find a life-changing reason as to how you have gotten to the state of health that you are in today. This part of Chinese medicine is a powerful tool for self-healing and giving yourself the self-care you deserve.



In conclusion

Once you have an understanding of which element you are, you can then apply the wisdom of the Five Elements to start looking at why you make the life choices you do. And then set about changing things if you need.

How to find out more about Chinese Medicine and the Five Elements? Join me on my blog, YouTube and Instagram channels for a deeper insight, or one of my Healing Qigong classes.

If you want to look further into your chart and dominant element then please join me for a BaZi reading. It’s a once-in-a-life-changing experience. A BaZi reading firstly answers the question ‘why’ you are the way you are, why things happen the way they do, why you have the illnesses or symptoms you have. You can enjoy a full 2 hour Bazi, a 20-minute consultation in my virtual clinic or your own bespoke plan.