According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Chinese Five Elements outline the relationship between nature and the body. The Five Elements Theory underlines the foundations of many Chinese disciplines, including martial arts and feng shui, and explains that for the body to be completely healthy, each element must be in balance.

What Are The Chinese Five Elements?

The Five Chinese Elements include wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Within each element-group is a series of categories which include things like: seasons, organs, emotions and environmental factors.

How Do The Chinese Five Elements Affect Our Health? 

Have you ever felt anxious and experienced tummy troubles at the same time? Have you ever endured back pain as a result of a kidney infection? If so, you have experienced the Five Element Theory. 

The Five Elements explain how the systems in our bodies are related, and how we are connected to the world around us. When something is off-balance, we may experience health difficulties – so, having an understanding of how each element comes into play can help us to treat or alleviate symptoms.

Here is an insight into how we connect with each element – mind, body and spirit:


Season: Spring
Emotion: Anger
Major Organs: Liver/Gallbladder

Liver Health

The liver is the main organ associated with the wood element and is also the organ most affected by stress and emotions. People who experience a lot of stress, irritability and anger are likely to have an underlying liver health issue. The eyes and tendons are also associated with the liver. If you experience blurred vision, itchy eyes or other eye-related symptoms, your liver may be trying to tell you something. To prevent difficulties with your tendons, try not to overstretch them through excessive exercise. If they do become tight, a deep tissue massage can help to relieve tension and rebalance your body.


Season: Summer
Emotion: Joy
Organ: Heart/Small Intestine

Heart Health

The heart is the main organ associated with the fire element. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, if the heart is in need, all other organs in the body will contribute energy towards rebalancing it. The Five Element Theory describes the stomach as the child of the heart and the liver as the mother of the heart. To ensure complete heart health, you must also pay attention to the needs of your stomach and liver. The tongue and blood vessels are also associated with heart health. Any issues with the condition of the tongue (i.e. pale colour or cracks) can indicate heart problems. Likewise, if you are overly pale or red in complexion, your heart may be suffering. Happiness/joy and relaxation are essential for a healthy heart.


Season: Summer Solstice
Emotion: Worry
Organ: Stomach/Spleen

Stomach Health

The Five Element Theory says that the stomach is not just for digesting food and drink, but also our thoughts and emotions – which explains a lot, for instance, why you may experience a stomach ache when you’re nervous about something. Worry is the emotion associated with the earth element, and it’s also responsible for stomach disorders. Experiencing excessive anxiety can disrupt your stomach and digestive health. The sensory organ associated with the stomach is the mouth, which means symptoms such as bad breath can link to the stomach. Our muscles also connect to the stomach – if they cramp easily or are weak, the organ may not be operating correctly. A variety of massage techniques can relieve symptoms associated with stomach conditions and digestive health issues.


Season: Autumn
Emotion: Grief
Organ: Lungs/Large Intestine

Lung Health

According to The Five Elements Theory, the lungs are responsible for helping the body let go, emotionally and physically. The emotion of grief is closely related to lung health – it’s thought that difficulty processing loss, or getting easily upset could correlate to an imbalance of energy in the lungs. The nose and skin are also associated with lung health – things like sinus infections, loss of smell and skin conditions can link to problems with the lungs.


Season: Winter
Emotion: Fear
Organ: Kidney/Bladder

Kidney Health

The kidney is the main organ associated with the water element; its organ partner is the bladder. Those who regularly feel emotions such as fear and anxiety, or experience panic attacks could have an underlying issue with their kidney. In the same way, those who experience these feelings can compromise their kidney and bladder function, which can lead to infections and other issues, like back pain. The kidney also links to our ears and bones – for example, an ear infection or conditions such as osteoporosis could correlate to an imbalance in kidney energy.

By listening to your body and realising how the elements, seasons and your emotions all play a part in how you feel, you’ll be able to keep your mind, body and soul balanced and in better health.