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The Five Elements

The harmonious balance of ‘the five elements’ are key components of a healthy life.

In Chinese philosophy the Five Elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water are the five basic aspects of Qi, or life energy. These five elements are interconnected and interdependent. The harmonious balance of ‘the five elements’ are key components of a healthy life.

Like all forms of energy, all forms of Qi, the energy of the five elements are constantly in the process of transformation:

The energy of each element is more prominent or less prominent in seasonal and daily cycles.

Each element is also more strongly connected with specific organs and energy channels in the body.

Season: Spring
Energy Channels: Liver and Gallbladder

The Qi of the Wood element is most prominent in the spring when plants are sprouting new growth. The color of this element is green. The energy channels most prominent in wood element energy are the liver and gallbladder. As the liver energy starts to flow more easily in the spring, helping to detoxify the body and helping to give us more energy and vitality. This is an important time to focus on the liver.

Season: Summer
Energy Channels: Heart, Small Intestines, Pericardium, Triple Heater

The Qi of the Fire element is most prominent in summer when the weather is hotter and fire is heat. The color of this element is red. The energy channels most prominent in the wood element are the heart, small intestines, pericardium and the triple heater. Heart energy is so critical to healing and health and joy in our lives it is important to always focus on enhancing our heart energy and especially in summer time.

Season: Fall
Energy Channels: Lung, Large Intestine

The Qi of the Metal element is most prominent in fall, which is the time of harvesting the abundance of summer. The color of this element is white. The energy channels most prominent in the metal element are the lungs and large intestines, as well as the skin and nose, which are parts of the breathing energy system. Since fall is a transition time from the heat and outdoor activity of summer to the cooler temperatures and more indoor activity it is especially important to focus on the lung energy to help prevent breathing problems, colds and the like that are associated with fall and the winter to come.

Season: Winter
Energy Channels: Kidneys, Bladder

The Qi of the Water element is most prominent in winter when the cold creates a time for hibernation and plants go into their dormant cycle storing their energy for the spring to come. The color of this element is dark, dark blue, almost black. The kidney energy is the vitality of the body and focusing on enhancing the kidney energy during the winter season is so important for giving you more energy and vitality for the more active seasons ahead.

Season: All Seasons – Especially Late Summer
Energy Channels: Stomach, Spleen

The Qi of the Earth element has no specific season because it is important and active through all of the seasons. Earth energy is especially prominent during the last seven to ten days of each month of each season and in late summer. The color of this element is yellow. All energy and all of the other elements have a great relationship with the earth element because the earth energy is grounding. Since earth energy is even more prominent the last seven to ten days of each month this is an excellent time to focus on enhancing your stomach and spleen energy channels.

While each of the five elements is more prominent during different seasons, or times of the month as in the earth element, it is not helpful to focus on those respective energy channels exclusively during these periods of prominence.

As in all things in Chinese philosophy and Chinese medicine, creating and maintaining energy balance and harmony is the goal.


Your tongue is always working for you and represents your energy in 5 Elements. Relative to its size, it is the strongest muscle in your body and if you take a close look at it on a regular basis, you can discover a lot about your energy and health. A normal healthy tongue has a light white coating on it. General Signs:
  • Sore Tongue is usually a sign of nutritional deficiency.
  • Burning Tongue is often a sign of lack of digestive juices in the stomach.
  • Thick White Coating can be a sign of too much mucus in the body.
  • Thick Yellow Coating can be excess heat in the intestines; the bowels may not be working well.
  • Horizontal Groves in the Tongue can be a sign of poor absorption of nutrients.
  • Red Tip of the tongue can be a sign of emotional stress and upset.
The Tip of your tongue is the Fire Element and heart and small intestine energy.
  • In Qigong, the spirit resides in the heart energy channels.
  • The tip corresponds to issues of the heart physical and emotional.
  • When the tip is red or there are red dots on the tip of the tongue it can be a sign that there is stress and anxiety in your life.
Just behind the tip is the Metal Element that is the lungs.
  • This corresponds to the respiratory and immune system and the large intestine.
  • When the ‘metal area’ of your tongue has small red dots it usually
  • Is a sign of a possible developing respiratory issue.
  • When the tongue is very pale in this area it can be a sign of a weakening immune system.
  • If there is a brown or black coating, is it advisable to see a doctor as there could be advanced respiratory health issues.
Sides of your tongue are the Wood Element and correspond to your liver, gallbladder, eyes and fingernails.
  • The right side of your tongue tells you how your gallbladder is doing.
  • The left side is the liver energy and eyes.
  • If there are teeth marks on the sides of the tongue, this usually is a sign of stagnant energy in the liver channels.
Middle of the Tongue is the Earth Element, stomach and spleen.
  • A crack down the middle of the tongue usually indicates weak stomach and digestion.
Back of the Tongue is the Water Element and corresponds to the kidney/bladder energy channel that includes the hormonal system and sexual glands for men and women.
  • The larger papilla on the back of the tongue are the tongue’s larger taste buds. Their larger size is normal. You can look for color and coating in this area. If the area has a thick yellow coating at the back center of the tongue it is commonly an indication of bladder issues or infection.
Remember, when you are looking at your tongue for energy health signals they will be in the wetness or dryness, the size, shape and color and the thickness of the fur. The coating on the tongue is formed when tiny amounts of impurities form the spleen float up to the tongue. When the spleen and stomach are in balance, the fir on your tongue is uniform and the center fur is slightly thicker. *If you have any questions about a health condition, please see a licensed health professional. This educational information is not intended to treat or cure any disease.