Throughout the history of medicine, healers have classified qualities of health and disease according to ‘elements’.  Hippocratic medicine had the ‘4 humors’ of earth, air, fire, and water that corresponded with the 4 seasons and qualities of emotion, colors, and type of disease.  Ayurveda adds a fifth element, space, to its paradigm, and assigns attributes such as softness, stability, subtlety, and warmth.  The ancient Chinese embraced the concept as well, and assigned characteristics to the elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

Each of these medical systems consider health to be a manifestation of balance.  When one of the elements becomes stronger or weaker than the others, disease results.  Therefore, medical treatment is aimed at bringing each of the elements back into harmony with the others.

In the Chinese system, each of the elements is associated with its own organs, emotion, flavor, climate, and season.  This fantastic graphic by angel b. lee shows the 5 element system at a glance.  Have fun finding the qualities that best describe you.

The 5 Elements at a Glance

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