Chinese Philosophy: Five Seasons – Five Elements

In the fifth century BC, the Greek physician Hippocrates argued that human health depends on the balance of four bodily fluids, which corresponded to their counterparts in nature: air, water, fire and earth.

The same idea – with the addition of the fifth component (ether) – is reflected in the ancient Indian medicine Ayurveda. And finally, for thousands of years, Chinese philosophy has considered health as the harmony of the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water. These five components form the basis of the concept of feng shui, acupuncture, qigong, as well as the martial arts of China.

In accordance with traditional Chinese medicine, which is a holistic approach to human wellness, each of the five elements corresponds to a season, life stage, color, shape, time of day, emotion, activity, internal organ.

The tree element is associated with the spring season, the time of birth and new beginnings. According to Chinese traditional medicine, spring is the time when we open ourselves to the world. During this period, it is important to maintain “stability in the wind”, in body language this means: pay special attention to the spine, limbs, joints, as well as muscles, ligaments and tendons. In the spring, it is also important to take care of the liver, which cleanses the blood and produces bile, which helps metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

To support the functioning of the liver, the following is recommended: drink plenty of water with the addition of lemon juice, such a drink nourishes the liver. Choose light, raw foods such as sprouts, fruits, herbs, nuts, and seeds. Avoid alcohol and fried foods.

In addition to diet, there are other ways to balance the wood element. This component corresponds to the early morning hours. Just as the morning is a great time to plan your day, spring is the perfect time to reflect and decide how you want your future to be. , suggests Dr. Elson Haas, founder of the Preventive Medical Center in San Rafael, California.

Fire is warmth, transformation, dynamics. The heat of the sun, long days, people full of energy – all this is due to the fire received from the heat of the sun. “In the cycle of the five elements, fire is the peak of power,” writes Gail Reichstein in Wood Turns to Water: Chinese Medicine in Everyday Life, “Fire is the peak—achieving maximum activity.”

Cardio exercises are especially recommended in the summer because fire governs the heart and blood circulation. It is also responsible for the small intestine, which in traditional Chinese medicine is inextricably linked to the heart. The small intestine converts the foods we eat into components suitable for the body, which enter directly into the bloodstream. The latter moves to the heart and circulates through the rest of the system. By feeding your body toxic food, your small intestine will hardly fulfill its duty of delivering beneficial nutrients.

From the point of view of Chinese medicine, there may be too much or too little of an element in a person, which causes illness and/or emotional symptoms. Fire deficiency is characterized by a lack of activity. Signs can be a cold, weakness, lack of enthusiasm. In case of fire in the body, warming foods are recommended:

When the fire is, it often leads to overexcitation and excessive activity. To counter Reichstein suggests In the “fiery” period, it is important to exclude meat, eggs and oils.

Summer is the perfect time for hearty (but healthy!) lunches, soulful gatherings with friends, because fire is associated with connection.

The earth is a stabilizing force. After all the activities of spring and summer, the earth element helps us to ground ourselves and prepare for the autumn harvest and then winter – a season of rest and tranquility.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the earth element is associated with the spleen, pancreas, and stomach, the digestive and nutritional organs. Choose sweet foods carefully in late summer, the best options are: Also, pay special attention to HOW you eat. Slow and measured eating in moderation will allow the stomach and spleen to work at their best. After eating, movement is recommended, as it helps digestion, absorption and distribution of nutrients.

Harvest season, waning days and preparation for winter. The metal element, from rough ore to sparkling gems, symbolizes. In autumn, it is important to make sure that everything is clean, the necessary is used, and everything unnecessary is eliminated.

The Chinese do not include the element of air in their system, but the metal has a similar nature. “For example, both air and metal energy represent psychic and spiritual activities, including the workings of the mind, intellect, and communication,” writes Janice McKenzie in Discovering the Five Elements: One Day at a Time, — .

A metal-balancing diet is hearty, warm meals, nuts, oils, some spices: mustard, pepper, roquefort. Root vegetables – potatoes, carrots, garlic and onions. Fruits – banana and mango. Cayenne pepper, ginger and curry aid digestion.

The cold and dark season is a time of reflection, rest and recovery. Winter is associated with water -. In the body, the element of water is associated with the circulation of blood, sweat, tears, the bladder and, most importantly, the kidneys.

“In Chinese medicine, the kidneys are especially revered,” says Shoshanna Katzman, founder and director of the New Jersey Wellness Center and author of the qigong book Qigong for Staying Young. “The kidneys are the root of all your body’s energy.”

In order to keep the kidneys healthy, it is important to keep them warm and hydrated. Therefore, it is very important not to allow the lower back to freeze, just as it is unacceptable to drink cold drinks.

In winter, the body needs an easy way to be more connected to the elements of water: use sea salt instead of regular table salt. It is worth noting that for the healthy functioning of the kidneys, an extremely moderate amount of salt is needed.

Winter is a period of economical energy consumption, but this does not mean that you need to be immobile. Tai chi, qigong, yoga are the best forms of activity during the winter months.

Associated with introspection, receptivity and night, the winter season is

When the five elements are in harmony, they mutually support each other: water feeds wood, wood feeds fire, fire creates earth, earth produces metal, and metal water (by condensation). But when the elements are out of balance, they can harm each other. In the destructive cycle, water extinguishes fire, wood divides earth, metal cuts wood, fire melts metal, earth absorbs water.

By making an effort to rebalance the elements in your body, you can be on the path to improved health and vitality. Maintain balance – reap the benefits of great health! 

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