Part 2: Understanding 5 Elements
By Grandmaster James Shyun, O.M.D. and Sifu Nicholas Willan

This is the second in a series of short articles that will hopefully explain some of the mysticism and misinformation regarding Chinese medicine. Each article will shed some light on a new topic regarding Abimoxi and hopefully leave the reader with a sense of understanding and connection between the concept that is and the reality that lies within.

The human body works as a system and when functioning at its peak potential, allows no single organ to work independently or to over-control any other organ. Each organ has its specific function and each organ works as a symbiosis with every other organ to maintain health and protect the body from outside influences. This type of a system works very efficiently, effectively, and independent of our conscious understanding. Each part of the human organism has a relationship with every other part and no single part can function properly without each counterpart. It is this reason that Chinese Medicine is considered holistic and has five fundamental components (5 elements) which govern, mediate, and assist in our function and survival.

The foundational components of Chinese medicine rely on understanding the five elements and the properties associated with each element. The five main elements are metal, water, wood, fire, and earth with the accompanying organs being lung, kidney, liver, heart, and spleen respectively. Each has numerous properties distinguishing it from the others and each play a crucial role in the others fulfillment. The components associated with each element (each organ) include a: color, season, direction, flavor, emotion, sensing organ, and an expression, etc.

As stated above, when discussing the 5 elements we must look at how each element interacts with every other element and how each affect the others. This interaction or relationship is typically divided into four categories; the promoting function, controlling function, over-controlling function, and resistance function. These relationships are relatively simple. Imagine for a moment that each element is arranged in a pentagon fashion, shown in the image below. The healthy promoting function (when everything is working properly) allows each element to support and promote another, so everything is in harmony. When everything is in harmony our bodies are healthy and balanced.

Promoting Function

As well, the controlling function (shown in the image below) acts as the checks and balances system, whereby each organ provides a normal and necessary control over another to ensure all activities are in check at all times. Hence, allowing our bodies to remain in a healthy balanced state. It is only when our bodies become out of balance that illness ensues.

Controlling Function

When the body becomes out of balance one type of unhealthy relationship that may have occurred is called an over-control relationship. The name implies exactly what happens, one element over-controls another and the equilibrium which once was, no longer exists. See the following image.

Over-Control Function

The other relationship that may occur during sickness is resistance of control. Resistance of control is where one organ does not allow itself to be normally controlled by another and pushes back rather than accepts.

Resistance of Control

The human body functions as a delicate balance of organs and processes and a simple thing such as a cold breeze from the winter air can affect this system greatly. This is why we must listen to our bodies and respond accordingly.