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Plum Flower Five Elements & Chinese Body Clock

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Traditional Chinese Medicine
Five Elements Chart & Body Clock

  Wood Fire Earth Metal Water
Orientation East South Middle West North
Season Spring Summer Late Summer Autumn Winter
Climate Wind Summer Heat Dampness Dryness Cold
Cultivation Germinate Grow Transform Reap Store
Yin Organ Liver Heart Spleen/Pancreas Lung Kidney
Yang Organ Gall Bladder Small Intestine Stomach Large Intestine Bladder
Orifice Eye Tongue Mouth Nose Ear
Tissues Tendons Vessels Muscles Skin & Hair Bones
Emotions Anger Joy Love Grief Fear
Body Fluid Tears Sweat Saliva Mucus Urine
Colour Blue/Green Red Yellow White Black
Taste Sour Bitter Sweet Pungent Salty
Voice Shout Laugh Sing Cry Groan
Shape Rectangle Triangle Square Round Curve
Grain Wheat Beans Rice Corn Millet
Mental Quality Sensitivity Creativity Clarity Intuition Spontaneity
Finger Index Middle Thumb Ring Little
Sense Sight Speech Taste Smell Hearing
Smell Rancid Scorched Fragrant Rotten Putrid
Life Birth Youth Adulthood Old Age Death

The doctrine of five phases describes two cycles of interactions between the phases. These cycles are a generating or creation cycle, also known as "mother-son" and an overcoming or destruction cycle, also known as "grandfather-nephew".


The common memory jogs, which help to remind in what order the phases are:

  • Wood feeds Fire;
  • Fire creates Earth (ash);
  • Earth bears Metal;
  • Metal carries Water (as in a bucket or tap, or water condenses on metal);
  • Water nourishes Wood.


  • Wood absorbs Water;
  • Water rusts Metal;
  • Metal breaks up Earth;
  • Earth smothers Fire;
  • Fire burns Wood.

Other common words for this cycle include "begets", "engenders" and "mothers."


  • Wood parts Earth (such as roots; or, Trees can prevent soil erosion);
  • Earth absorbs (or muddies) Water (or Earth dam controls the water);
  • Water quenches Fire;
  • Fire melts Metal;
  • Metal chops Wood.

This cycle might also be called "controls", "restrains" or "fathers".

Alive & Well Chinese Body Clock