"The Five Elemental Energies of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water
encompass all the myriad phenomena of nature. It is a paradigm that applies
equally to humans." -- The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (2nd
In traditional Chinese philosophy, the Five Elements theory can be applied to
everything, from rivers to sounds to body organs, and is used to describe
interactions and relationships between phenomena in the universe.
This theory is actually fundamental to the Chinese health care system and the
foundation of traditional Chinese medicine, which holds that bitter flavor
relates to the heart, sour to the liver, sweet to the spleen, spicy to the lungs
and salty to the kidneys. So sour wood-energy foods are prescribed for weak
livers but not advised for overactive livers. Spicy metal-energy foods stimulate
the lungs and large intestine, and salty water-energy foods have a diuretic
effect on the kidneys and bladder.
Interested in how the five elements theory
function in Chinese cooking? Find more information on page 26-27 at