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The Theory of Five Elements

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Updated: Friday, Mar 27,2009, 12:59:52 PM
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      In traditional Chinese medicine, the visceral organs, and other organs and tissues, have similar properties to the five elements, they interact physiologically and pathologically, as are the five elements. Through the similarity comparison, different phenomena are attributed to the category of the five elements. Based on the characteristics, forms and functions of different phenomena, the complex links between physiology and pathology and the interconnection between the human body and the natural world are explained.

Similar to the theory of yin-yang, the theory of five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water is an ancient philosophical concept used to explain the composition and the phenomena of the physical universe. In traditional Chinese medicine theory of five elements is used to interpret the relationship between physiology and pathology of the human body and the natural environment. According to the theory, five elements are in constant movement and change, and interdependence and mutual restraint of the five factors explain the complex links between physical objects, as well as the unity between the human body and the natural world . 

      The five elements emerged from the observation of different groups of dynamic processes, functions and characteristics observed in the natural world. The issues at stake in each of the five elements are:

      Fire: draft, heat, flaring, descent, movement, etc.

      Wood: germination, extension, softness, harmony, flexibility, etc.

      Metal: strength, strength, killing, cutting, cleaning, etc.

      Earth: more and more changing, feeding, production, etc.

      Water: damp, cold, descending, running, etc.

      Between the five elements, there are close relations can be classified as the promotion of mutual restraint and under physiological conditions, and the mutual support and trespass violation under pathological conditions. By mutual promotion and restraint, the functions of different coordinate systems and homeostasis maintained. And encroaching into the breach, pathological changes can be explained and predictable complications.

      The order of promoting cooperation between the five elements that wood promotes fire, fire promotes earth, earth metal supports, metal promotes water, and generates the promotion of wood. In this way, each of the five elements to this type of promotion of sharing with others, thus the circular and endless. According to the order of mutual restraint, however, wood restrains earth, metal restrains wood, etc. Each of the five elements of restraint also share this relationship with the other. The promotion of mutual support and restraint are two aspects that can not be separated. If there is no promotion, there is no birth and growth. If there is no restraint, there is no change for the maintenance and development of normal relations. Thus, movement and change of all things exist through their mutual understanding and promotion of restraint. These relationships are the basis of the movement of natural elements.

      Infringement and violates the pathological conditions of normal mutual restraint and promotion of relations. Indicates that the encroachment of retaining one of the five elements to the other exceeds the normal level, while the violation means that one of the five elements retains the other opposite to the normal mutual injunction.

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