Five Element Theory of Chinese Medicine is a complex theory which evolved from observing nature and the five elements found in nature, fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. We are part of nature and a microcosm of nature encapsulating the elements within us.
No one organ works in isolation. Where symptoms manifest aren’t necessarily where the symptoms originated. According to Traditional Chinese medicine, the organs have a nourishing cycle, or sheng cycle. For instance, The wood of the liver feeds the fire of the heart. The fire of the heart nourishes the earth energy of the spleen. The earth energy of the spleen feeds the metal element of the lungs and the metal element nourishes the water of the kidneys.
There’s also a Controlling Cycle, or ke cycle to keep things in check. You can think of it as a checks and balances system. For instance, water controls fire, but is controlled by earth. Although imbalance in the system can manifest from an over controlling element, this is in an overactive cycle, or Cheng Cycle. Too much water can put out the fire of the heart. There’s also an insulting cycle, or wu cycle where the forces are reversed. For instance, the Fire of the heart can dry up the water element of the kidneys.
The Five Element Theory is very complicated and could take decades to completely understand. I’m certainly not an expert in the Five Element Theory, but I do apply the principles in my work. For instance, Chi Nei Tsang (Chinese abdominal massage) is a combination of Chi Kung, massage, breathwork, and the five element theory. In general, I find the body will reveal three organs to work with at a time.
Western Medicine The colon and liver may not be the first things to come to mind when you think about hormonal balance. But if it weren’t for the liver inactivating hormones such as estrogen and your large intestine ushering out the deactivated hormones, they would recirculate through the bloodstream sending outdated messages leading to a hormonal imbalance that could lead to fertility issues, painful periods, fibroids, and PMS. Painful menses is not because your uterus is broken, we need to look at the system as a whole.
The main message that I wanted to convey in this article is that whether you look at the body from an Eastern or Western point of view you can see that no one area works in isolation. So, when looking to improve organ health zoom out to view your entire body, the microcosm within, but don’t stop there, look at your relationships, and your thoughts, as well as the environment in which you live. You are part of that environment, you can’t separate yourself from it any more than you can separate your liver from your body.