Understanding the five elements

Principals of the five elements

From talk by Terry Dart,  guest speaker at NatureHealth 

Based on observations of the natural world, ancient Chinese people recognised continuous patterns of transformation and change in the universe. Initially, these observations   were interpreted using yin yang. These interpretations were expanded using a new theory called the five elements.

The Five Elements
The Five Elements

These elements are:

  1.   wood
  2.   fire
  3.   water
  4.   metal
  5.   earth.

Ancient Chinese medical philosophers integrated the yin yang and five elements  theories into their medical practices as early as 475BC. Today we refer to  this medical system as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

The five elements and their relationships with nature and the body

The five elements correspond to different aspects of the natural world and the body.

  1.   Wood corresponds to spring and wind in the natural world, and to the liver, gall bladder, eyes and tendons in the body.
  2.   Fire corresponds to summer and heat in the natural world, and to the heart, blood and small intestines.
  3.   Earth corresponds to late summer and dampness in the natural world, and to mouth, stomach, muscles and spleen.
  4.   Metal corresponds to autumn and dryness in the natural world, and to lungs, large  intestines, nose and skin.
  5.   Water corresponds to winter and cold in the natural world, and to kidney, bladder, bone and ears.

Emotions also affect the organs

  •   Love – heart
  •   Grief – lungs
  •   Anger – gall bladder and liver
  •   Fear – kidneys.

Too much or too little emotion can have a detrimental effect on the organs. Terry used the example of someone who is overweight. ‘It is not about the food you eat. It is all about what is going on in the head. When you think the right thoughts and you breathe right, you will then be able to metabolise your food correctly so you don’t put on weight.’

He added: ‘Happiness is the key to health, whilst eating good food and thinking good thoughts.’

What can you do?

  1.   Use  visualisation to cure your condition.
  2.   Meditate with more focus on cleaning the condition.
  3.   Do not panic.
  4.   Eat correct food and control food intake.
  5.   Drink tea not coffee.
  6.   Have acupuncture regularly.
  7.   Exercise more.

Terry said with the Chinese philosophy of the five elements, health is the fountain of youth . This is not about living in the Western system, where we are ‘conditioned to be stupid. It’s about being a warrior.’

Terry used the example of someone who gets angry.

  •   Anger affects the liver.
  •   Liver gets hot.
  •   Leads to eye problems and stomach issues.

The lesson here is to keep calm and not to be too emotional.

Another example Terry used was someone living in grief.

  •   Grief injures the lungs.
  •   Grieve for a specific time.
  •   If it drags on too long, you will get sick.
  •   Do not be too sad or too happy.
  •   Keep a happy balance in all things.

By repeating old patterns it creates diseases. The Aboriginal people went “walk about” for health reasons. We should do the same.


Relationship between five elements, nature and the body 






Orientation East South Middle West North
Season Spring Summer Late       Summer Autumn Winter
Climate Wind Summer       Heat Dampness Dryness Cold
Cultivation Germinate Grow Transform Reap Store
Yin Organ Liver Heart Spleen Lung Kidney
Yang Organ Gall       Bladder Small       Intestine Stomach Large       Intestine Bladder
Orifice Eye Tongue Mouth Nose Ear
Tissues Tendons Vessels Muscles Skin       & Hair Bones
Emotions Anger Joy Pensiveness Grief Fear
Colour Blue/       Green Red Yellow White Black
Taste Sour Bitter Sweet Pungent Salty
Voice Shout Laugh Sing Cry Groan



The above table illustrates the organised relationship between the elements, nature and the body. Working within this system of thought, everything has a correlation in nature.

We are all connected.  We are one.

To learn more join Margie for Qigong in the park or attend the next Basic Qigong workshop.

Take charge of your health naturally