The 5 Elements of Chinese Medicine

Chinese Medicine has 5 elements, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood in a system based on a holistic Yin and Yang or balance of body, mind and spirit.

Fire Element

The Fire Element includes the functions associated with the heart and small intestine. In Chinese, the fire element also involves the functioning of the glandular system and is said to be the seat of the spirit, or “shen”. This means the mind is controlled by the fire element.

Fire Yang, the easiest way to think of these formulas is: When fire is out of control, symptoms may include heart palpitations, scattered thinking, inability to relax and fall asleep; what is generally referred to as “being stressed out”.

Think of other analogies, such as “burning the candle at both ends.” This is a yang condition addressed by formula STR-C. The Chinese translation of An Shen is “Pacifies Spirit”.

Fire Yin, or opposite will generally occur if a person has been stressed for awhile, resulting in the fire eventually burning itself out. This will be evidenced by a lack of energy, exhausted adrenals, forgetfulness, and possibly waking in the middle of the night.

It would be what we call “burned out”. Formula HS-C, stands for Heart Stimulant which helps balance this condition. The Chinese translation  of Yang Yin for this formula is “Nurtures the Heart.”

Earth Element

Represents the digestive and assimilative functions and includes the organs of the stomach, spleen and pancreas. Associated body parts are muscles.

Earth Yang or excess can include excess gas, bloating, weight and a feeling of fullness. The formula AG-C, which stands for Anti Gas, helps to digest stagnant food and moisture from the digestive system. The Chinese translation of Xioa Dao means “Clears Congestions”.  It is most effective if taken after a meal.

Earth Yin occurs when a person does not seem to be getting the nutrition from the food they eat. The formula UC-C helps to digest and assimilate better and can often help a person who is thin, lacking in muscle tone, and suffering from food allergies.

It actually stands for Undernourished Colon, which is a bit of a misnomer, but it is also very effective if someone is suffering from weakened colon conditions, irritable bowel, colitis, or diarrhea. The Chinese translation for Wen Zhong is “Warms Center”, which is appropriate if you think of needing an active digestive fire to burn or break down food.

Metal Element

The Metal Element includes the lungs and colon. Associated with these organs is also the skin and other parts of the respiratory system, such as the sinuses.

Metal Yang formula AL-C, which you can remember by thinking of Allergies. It is useful when there is excess mucous, such as runny eyes, nose and phlegmy cough. The Chinese translation of Yuan Fei means “Ventilate the Lungs”, which is what this does. AL-C has helped many people with their spring allergies.

Metal Yin formula LH-C stands for Lung Healer. It is used when these organs are in a weakened condition. The Chinese Fu Lei means Supports Weak”. This works wonders when someone has a dry cough or tight chest and they need something to moisten it up, loosen it and help them increase the energy to get it out. It can also help with a “dry” colon in the same way.

Water Element

The Water Element representing the kidneys, bladder and adrenals. The water element in Chinese Herbology is responsible for the structural system, and functioning of the ears.

Water Yang formula K-C is easy to remember as Kidney. It is useful for backache, kidney inflammation, and conditions where the body is holding onto excess water. The Chinese translation of Qu Shi menas “Clears Dampness”.

Water Yin formula KB-C can be remembered as Kidney Bone. It is effective for arthritis, which is a condition where the bones are dried out”, sore knees, and weakness in the kidney, bladder or prostate. Chiropractors love this formula, and Steven Horne has called it “chiropractor in a bottle”, as it helps strengthen the structural system. This formula has also helped some people with tinnitus, or ringing of the ears, along with Gingko. To think in the Chinese terms, this can be a condition of the eardrum being “dried out”. The Chinese name for this formula is Jian Gu, which means “Strengthen Bones”.

Wood Element

The Wood Element includes the liver & gallbladder and associated body parts of eyes and hair. The liver is responsible for over 500 functions in the body, so many health challenges can relate to this organ.

Wood Yang formula LIV-C  is used when the liver is stressed out, and may need to release toxins or pent up emotions. The Chinese name is Tiao He, which means “Mediate Harmony”. This is one of the six formulas in the Tiao He Pak, our 10 day cleanse. LIV-C has proved useful in helping to release upper body, neck tension, headaches, temper tantrums, and PMS. Think of it as a releaser to restore harmony.

Wood Yin formula BP-C stands for Blood Purifier. It helps to nurture and build the blood and support a weakened liver or gall bladder. People with varied and changing complaints, may be called hypochondriac by the medical profession.

This is actually a correct term, because it means under functioning (hypo) liver . BP-C can be very helpful in supporting these organs to carry out its many functions better. The Chinese translation of Bu Xue means “Nourishes Blood”.

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