Natural Health and Healing Therapy

Theory Of Mother-Child Relationship Of Five Elements For Healing

The sheng cycle is of the utmost importance in Five Element as it is fundamental to the idea that a practitioner can generate change in the organs of one Element by treating another Element. Chapter 69 of the Nan Jing discusses the sheng cycle in terms of the relationship between a mother and child.


  • If the 'child' Element is deficient, then it may be because it is not receiving sufficient qi from its 'mother'. It may be more effective to treat the 'mother' to engender more qi in the 'child' Element than treating the child itself.

  • For example, if the Fire Element is deficient the practitioner may reinforce the Wood Element in order to provide qi for the Fire Element (by analogy, throwing more wood on the fire in order to generate more flames). This kind of connection fitted into contemporary thinking during the Han dynasty.

Five Element theory also mentions that if a 'child' Element becomes too full (shi) it can deleteriously affect the 'mother' Element. For example, if the Wood Element is too full then it may have 'robbed' the Water Element, which becomes depleted. This relationship is known as 'zi duo mu qi' or 'the son steals the mother's qi'.

The basic idea is that for healing to occur, we need a to ensure that the Five Elements is in harmony with one another. We have to adjust our lifestyle, diets, and emotions so that this balance is maintained. For serious cases of disharmony, herbs and acupuncture can be used to help resolve the disharmonies.


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