Wu Xing Circle – the circle of 5 elements or 5 transformations.

In Chinese philosophy an important part belongs to the circle of 5 transformations or 5 elements, also known as Wu Xing circle. It represents understanding of Chinese people of life and how all elements are interconnected and affect each other.

The 5 elements in the circle are:

  • Fire
  • Earth
  • Metal
  • Water
  • Wood

The outer arrows on the picture above, shown in black/bold, represent a generation cycle. Here the Fire produces ashes that nourish the Earth, Earth bears Metal, we can create a Metal bucket to carry the Water, Water nourishes the Wood, and Wood feeds the Fire.

The inner relationships, shown with gray arrows on the picture above, represent controlling action. Here Fire controls Metal because it can melt metal. Earth controls Water because it can absorb water. Metal controls Wood because we can create a metal axe and chop down the wood. Water controls Fire because in can extinguish fire. And Wood controls Earth because it can part or hold together Earth.

So why is that important for our health somebody can ask? As Chinese philosophers believe, as above so below. According to that theory, a human body has also body parts or systems that each represent one of the five elements. They are:

  • Heart is Fire
  • Spleen is Earth
  • Lungs are Metal
  • Kidneys are Water
  • Liver is Wood

So according to this theory, we need to look at the human body as a system of interconnected organs and not just a bucket of different organs thrown in together just for the heck of it. According to this theory Heart gives Energy to Spleen, Spleen feeds Lungs, Lungs feed energy to Kidneys, and Kidneys give energy to Liver, and Liver gives it back to Heart.

So how does TCM and Image Therapy uses this information? The goal of Image Therapy is to find the cause of the disease, and treat the cause, not the symptoms. So if client comes and complains about not being able to run long distance, and also feeling short of breath even after easy work out, we should treat lungs, right? Well, according to the Wu Xing circle – wrong. The client may or may not mention that he has a minor issue with his heart like feeling pain in heart are once in a while, and having irregular heartbeat sometimes, as well as some minor digestion issues, as those issues are really mild and don’t give him that much trouble, he just really want to be able to run that 5k race. So if we look at the Wu Xing circle – we see that Heart controls Lungs, and if lungs not getting enough energy and not able to function correctly – it does not really matter how we going to treat his lungs – we will not be successful.  In fact we need to treat his heart first, get it working correctly, and then Spleen and Lungs will start getting enough energy and working as they are suppose to, and our client will be able to run that 5k race.

This is one of the main differences between Western Medicine and Image Therapy/TCM view of disease, and the main reason why Image Therapy and TCM are able to get people back to good health and not just trying to give minor improvements or sustain their current condition with medications.