Five Phase Generating and Control Cycle

Five Phase Generating and Control Cycle

The theory of the five elements or five phases comes from the Chinese observation of the natural world. All phenomenon in this world and even in this universe, said the ancient Chinese thinkers, are the products of five qualities: earth, wood, fire, metal, and water. 

As you will see in the following sections, though these are ancient ideas, there is a beautiful application of it in medicine that still works in incredibly effective ways for diagnosis and treatment of the body.

Definition and Concept of Five Element Theory

What five element theory is and how it fits into the universe of Chinese medicine. This section also contains what you need to know about the characteristics of the elements, their correspondences, what organs in TCM are associated with each, and how they inter-relate.


This is about the growing, bendable, spreading nature of Qi in the body. Think trees. Lots of trees.


Qi that warms and consumes and the organs that relate to it.


This is the element associated with the core of everything and everything grows from it.


This element represents that which is hard, dense, and heavy. Fun factoid: it also correlates to the element of Air in other disciplines. That’s why the Swords suit in a tarot deck has so much to do with air.


The element that is fluid, flowing, and heavy.

Five Element Correspondences

What seasons, climates, directions, organs, tissues, and more are associated with each element. You’ll need to know these correspondences approximately forever!

Bonus: Blank Five Element Correspondence Chart