If you followed my blog, you probably have a pretty good understanding of the basic traditional Eastern medicine theory and the Five Elements principle by now. In this post, I will delve deeper into traditional Eastern medicine and the Five Elements theory.
According to traditional Eastern medicine, each of the Five Elements has its own Yin aspects and Yang aspects. In our bodies, the Yin aspects of the Five Elements are embodied in five Yin organs, which are the liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys. As for the Yang aspects of the Five Elements, they are embodied in six Yang organs, which are the gall bladder, small intestine, stomach, large intestine, urinary bladder, and San Jiao (or Samcho in Korean).
According to traditional Eastern medicine, the five Yin organs are largely responsible for our bodily functions. Yin organs are situated deeper inside the body, manufacturing, regulating, and conserving vital substances. They are more closely related to the Five Elements and thus more susceptible to the imbalance of a particular element that is assigned to them. Conversely, problems in any of these organs could offset the general imbalance of an element associated with the organ.
Liver – Yin organ of Wood
The liver is the Yin organ of the Wood Element. The characteristics of the Wood Element are reflected in the liver’s aptitude for growth, acceleration, elevation, and dispersion. The liver is akin to a commander who is in charge of the harmonious circulation and balance of the internal system. Like any other commanders, the liver has particular aversions to obstruction and oppression. The liver regulates the amount of blood that is distributed to the body. When its supply exceeds the body’s needs, the liver stores blood until the body requires its release.
The liver also commands the smooth flow of Qi energy, When Qi energy in the liver is stagnant, it provokes internal heat and creates a headache, dizziness, and sleep disturbances. According to traditional Eastern medicine, stagnant liver Qi also offsets our emotional state, and could provoke depression, irritability, tension, anger, or anxiety.
Therefore, when chronic depression is caused by the liver, the depression can be cured by treating the liver and by creating smooth Qi circulation. Herbs and acupuncture treatments are frequently used in Eastern medicine. Stagnant Qi energy could also affect the spleen and the stomach, thereby creating digestive problems.
According to traditional Eastern medicine, the liver also governs the eyes, tendons, and nails, as well as other body parts that are assigned to the Wood Elements. According to traditional Eastern medicine, an unhealthy liver could be detected by the following symptoms.
*Stiffness or discomfort in tendons
*Visual disturbances, such as blurred vision or night blindness
*Eye problems, such as drying and red eyes
*Fragile, thin, brittle, withered, or cracking nails.
As the liver plays the role of a commander in our bodies, a healthy liver enables us to remain in control of our lives and handle each situation in an appropriate manner. The health of the liver is closely interlaced with the balance of the Wood Element. When the liver is healthy, positive traits of the Wood Element are expressed as clarity, confidence, assertiveness, and drive. However, when an unhealthy liver offsets the balance of the Wood Element, we become withdrawn and feel like we have lost control of our lives. This lack of control invariably creates anger and resentment, which are the emotions of the Wood Element. An unhealthy liver could lead to an excessive Wood Element, which makes us over-controlling, overly aggressive, and inflexible. When the Wood Element is excessive, we tend to disregard the needs and feelings of others around us.
In the control cycle, the Wood Element restrains the Earth Element. Likewise, the liver (Wood organ) restrains the spleen and stomach (Earth organs). Therefore, the health of the liver affects the digestive system. According to traditional Eastern medicine, problems in the liver could provoke the following digestive problems: Abdominal pain, bloating, heartburn, nausea, belching, ulcers, and diarrhea.
The gall bladder -Yang organ of Wood
Attached to the liver, the gall bladder is the Yang organ of the Wood Element. Physically, the gall bladder performs the function of storing bile, which is also acknowledged by Western medicine. However, in traditional Eastern medicine, the gall bladder embodies the Yang aspect of the Wood Element, enabling us to express some of the element’s positive qualities.
According to traditional Eastern medicine, it is the gall bladder that provides us with the capacity to make good judgments and timely decisions. When the gall bladder and the liver are healthy, we are assertive, confident, driven, vigorous, and motivated to realize our full potential and push our capabilities to the limit, all of which are positive qualities of the Wood Element. These qualities are essential for successfully launching a new business, excelling at work, or quickly climbing the career ladder.
The gall bladder is associated with decision-making and foresight. Therefore, when our gall bladder is unhealthy, we could find it hard to make decisions and/or frequently make unwise ones due to our lack of foresight. When the gall bladder is unhealthy, we could have jaundice, discomfort in the ribs, or bitter-tasting saliva, according to traditional Eastern medicine.