Five Elements and The Human Body
Translated by Yi Ming
Chinese philosophy identifies 5 different ways that Qi
manifests itself in the universe as the five elements.(screenshot)
How five elements affect each other in our body?
In Chinese medicine, a human body is divided into five systems, namely, wood,
fire, earth, metal and water. Human organs and tissues correspond to the five
elements. The body’s five systems not only automatically self-regulate according
to the laws of yin and yang, but also co-ordinate with the five elements from
the outside world at the same time in order to achieve health.
outside world, people most likely react to a few things, such as climate,
colour, sound and so on. Climate exhibits as spring, summer, autumn and winter;
the colours present as red, yellow, white, black and green; in sounds, they are
do, re, mi, sol and la.
In fact, even moral and ethical elements
correspond with the five elements. For example, benevolence is wood,
righteousness is gold, propriety is water, wisdom is fire and trust is earth.
There are five windows connecting with the outside world for the major
systems in the human body. Traditional Chinese medicine calls these “apertures”
or “mouths”, such as for the spleen, it is the mouth; for the lung, it is the
nose; for the liver, it is the eyes; for the heart, it is the tongue; and for
the kidneys, it is the ears. Human beings learn about the outside world through
Let’s look at the relationship between the five systems
and the elements.
Five elements: earth, metal, wood, fire and water.
orifices: mouth, nose, eyes, tongue and ears.
colors: yellow, white, green red and black.
notes: do, re, mil, sol and la.
Five inner organs:
spleen, lungs, liver, heart and kidneys.
Five hollow organs: stomach, large
intestine, gall bladder, small intestine and bladder.
principles: trust, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and
The five colours, five notes and five principles exhibit from
different perspectives, but they all convey the same thing. Only when the notes
are pure can they inspire people to connect to the Tao and awaken people’s
Then, how do the five elements affect each other? For
example, “metal” is the daughter of “earth”, which has “fire” as its parent.
Earth’s subjects are water and its official is wood. If all these were employed
in a metaphorical relationship in human beings, it would look like this – a
virtuous man is loving and kind to his children, honours his parents, cares
about his subjects and is also a sincere and righteous official.
appears that every element is closely related to the other four elements.
Therefore, when the ears, the orifice of the kidneys, hear wonderful music, the
other four organs also benefit; when the eyes see something elegant, the other
four organs share in beauty. When the inner meanings from the sounds and colours
pass through the inner organs, they awaken our moral elements. In other words,
it helps a person to follow the universal principles and behave like a righteous