The five elements and the Yin and Yang theories are two most basic philosophies supporting the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It looks at the 5 elements of nature and connects each element to 5 major organ pairs with the same characteristics as their natural counterpart. Remember, TCM Daoism believes the human body is a microcosm of the larger cosmo around us - we are always in relationship with nature and thus contain a mini-version of nature's cycles within us. Why is this such an important basic founding principal? Because TCM believes in order to better understand the how and why of relationships in the body, is to understand these connections in nature.
Wu Xing in Chinese is a directly translates to Wu (Five) Xing (movement). So the five elements of nature are: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water. Every one of these elements are in movement, and their natural characteristics are associated to specific organ networks that have the same qualities in the body.
What are the five elements in the body? In Traditional Chinese Medicine, these organ pairs are called Zang-Fu organs
Let's first understand how the five elements move in nature. Wood is burned by fire, which turns into soil found on Earth, which contains rich minerals and Metals, and when there is rain Water, this gives rise to the growth of Wood. Just as seasonal cycles in nature exist in endless flow, the same cycles are continuous within each of our bodies.
In practice, Earth represents the Spleen/Stomach, who are responsible for transforming and transporting nutrients and water to build Qi and blood for the body. If we think about Earth's role in nourishing our plants, fruits, vegetables, animals, much of life as we know it today would be hard to imagine. Think of this as the same for the body - the Spleen/Stomach is recognized as the most important organ of the body. In Western medicine there has been a recent rise of gut health interest, which is on the right track - but this is only the start of reversing decades of damage fad diets and poor quality in food that exists in the American diet.
While this article provides a high level introduction to the five elements of nature and how they're found in the human body, this theory extends to provide connections of the body to different seasons, colors, tastes, emotions, as well as providing to the I Ching. or Chinese Cosmology.
For example, the Wood element represents the Liver which is associated to Spring time. is associated to the Sour taste, if stagnated will feel Angry, and manifests on the Eye. If your birth chart is missing wood, you be prone to weaknesses in these areas.
Take our "What is My Element" quiz. By using I Ching, we can compose your Elemental profile.
My earliest memories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) began in the living room of my childhood home, where my dad, Dr. Sun, held his first Acupuncture space. At a young age, I saw the myriad of herbs he would pull together for his patients. Our basement was an apothecary, our kitchen filled with my pieces from my Operator set, and the living room served patients. After immigrating to New York City from Shanghai in the 1970s, my parents, like many other immigrants of New York, left everything they ever knew, to build a brand new life from scratch.
As a first generation American-born-Chinese kid growing up in NYC, it was hard to understand why my parents didn't pack me Capri-suns and Fig Newtons in my lunchbox. Instead of letting me wear short-shorts and slurp Ralph's Italian ices all Summer long, I was taught to always drinking warm water no matter what, make sure my feet were never freezing cold, and to listen to my body and treat it well.
While having practiced Chinese Medicine for a lifetime with my dad, it wasn't until a few years ago that I truly started to feel like I wanted to step into this world and be a champion of this beautiful, complex, and deeply connected world of ancient healing and wisdom. My friends and family were all beginning to seek holistic and alternative forms of health, and they would come to me and I would send them to my dad.
My turning point came when I saw the wellness industry seem to explode with all sorts of Qi Balancing, Yin Boosting, He Shou Wu touting products for this-that-and the other. Appalled by the lack of direction consumers face today in navigating "what wellness products should I take and why", I felt the need to step up and bring clear and medically supported guidance in navigating the natural way to being well.
I am making a step towards building a lineage of Traditional Healers and continuing the legacy that my dad, Dr. Sun, has created. This is inspired by a life long learning of my own culture and heritage that came thousands of years before me. And together we will learn, appreciate, and share the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Welcome to a world of inspiration: here to teach you how to listen to your body, feed it what it needs, and give you the tools to understand how to rebalance the yin to your yang with everyday foods.
Modern Chinese Wellness, from my family to yours.