Herbal Balance Program, Inc.

Five Element Theory

   The Five Element Theory is based on the concept that all things in nature, including human beings, are composed of five basic Elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.

  • Wood symbolizes growth, the Yang phase, also seen as birth, new life.
  • Fire symbolizes the peak of this Yang phase when adulthood and a sense of self is reached.
  • Earth resembles the stage of ripening when maturity is reached, a balance and neutrality
  • Metal symbolizes the Yin phase, harvesting, declining of energy, degeneration and aging
  • Water symbolizes maximum rest, the Yin state of dissolution, the final state of rest before growth

   This concept suggests that the body is divided into five Organ Networks, each corresponding to one Element:

Element Organ Network
Wood Liver / Gall Bladder
Fire Heart / Small Intestine
Earth Spleen / Stomach
Metal Lung / Large Intestine
Water Kidney / Urinary Bladder

   The Organ Networks describe the physiology and psychology of the organism. The Organ Networks as described in Traditional Chinese Medicine are not equivalent to the description of anatomical organ structures in Western Medicine. Beyond the Organ Networks the entire universe, including man, is divided up amongst the Five Elements. The Table of Five Element Characteristics provides a comprehensive overview of the components in the Five Element Theory concept.

   Man is subordinate to the laws of nature, to seasonal changes, to food changes, and emotional, physical and mental stresses. Environmental pollution attacks our lungs on a daily basis, hurting our Metal Element. Poor dietary habits deplete the function of our digestive system hurting the Earth Element. Alcohol, cigarettes, coffee and other stimulants injure our Liver, our Wood Element and our Heart, the Fire Element.

   All Elements are present in a person's Make Up. However every individual may have a fundamental tendency towards an imbalance in a particular Element or Organ Network. The result will be repeated occurrence of particular symptoms, diseases or behavior problems.

   When one Element develops a more predominant role than the other Elements, our physical and emotional health and many aspects of our life may be adversely affected. This Element could have been over-emphasized in order to better perform a particular job or social function creating an imbalance in all of the other Elements.

Five Element Map

Five Element Cycles | Questionnaire (What Element Are You?)


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© Herbal Balance Program, Inc. 2002