The five elements emerged from the observation of the various groups of dynamic processes, functions and characteristics in the natural world. They are:
1. Water: wet, cool, descending, flowing, yielding
2. Fire: dry, hot, ascending, moving
3. Wood: growing, flexible, rooted, strong
4. Metal: cutting, hard, conducting
5. Earth: productive, fertile, potential for growth
Each Element is seen as having a series of correspondences relating both to the natural world and also the human body. Each is linked with a season, a climate, a taste, a colour, a sound, an emotion, an odour, an movement, a sense organ, a body part, a Yang organ and a Yin organ.
TCM uses a system of inter-relationships between the Five Elements in order to understand how the various processes of the body support and control each other. Because of these inter-relationships, when one of the organs and its associated Element is out of balance, the other elements are also affected. This imbalance will manifest in the individual with many different signs and symptoms. It may show in the facial colour, the sound of the voice, a change in the emotional state as well as disharmony in the functioning of the connected organs.
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