The Emotions, Organs and the Five Elements in Chinese Medicine

The Emotions, Organs And The Five Elements

Emotions and Five Elements

The Emotions, Organs And The Five Elements

In East Asian Medicine, energy, emotions, and physical health are closely connected. This integrated mind-body approach to health and healing operates in a loop, where emotions impact the health of the body and vice versa.

This blog is the first in a series to look in-depth at the five elementsfive body organs and five key emotions and how they contribute to our overall health. 

From a Chinese medical perspective emotional imbalance can be both symptoms and causes of physical issues. There are five basic emotions linked to a corresponding organ in the body:

  • Anger with the liver
  • Joy with the heart
  • Worry with the spleen
  • Sadness and grief with the lung
  • Fear with the kidney

The five elements

Emotions and organs correlate with each other. And so, do the different elements of nature and our life force, the so-called Qi.

The essential elements are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. These five elements help explain the physiology and pathology of our body. 

The table below shows how the elements, organs, and emotions are related.


Organ: Liver, Gall Bladder

Emotion: Anger


Organ: Heart, Small Intestine 

Emotion: Joy


Organ: Spleen, Stomach

Emotion: Worry


Organ: Lung, Large Intestine

Emotion: Grief


Organ: Kidney, Bladder

Emotion: Fear

The importance of balance

Each of us combines these elements in constant flow. All components need to be balanced to stay healthy because they are interdependent. They are evolving and changing within us. Some elements become stronger and more dominant at different stages in life. A problem occurs when an element stays dominant, which leads to an imbalance of all the other parts, and symptoms and diseases develop.

For example, suppose the wood element becomes too strong. In that case, Liver energy becomes excessive and frequent outbursts of anger might occur. Dominant Liver energy can have a weakening impact on the Spleen/Stomach energy. It can therefore cause digestive problems with, e.g. bouts of diarrhoea. 

The Five Elements help us understand imbalances within the body and where shifts need to restore them. 

Acupuncture for balance

East Asian medicine has been practised for thousands of years and has helped countless people. In more recent times, studies have been designed to assess the efficacy of the practices. In 2020, researchers published work based on observational studies of Western medicine and East Asian Medicine. They noted that “considering the Five Elements theory in the diagnosis and treatment of the patient could lead to a deeper and more effective… treatment.” (1)

Acupuncture is a time-tested method for restoring a healthy balance. In the few decades since its introduction to the West, acupuncture has become one of the most widely used and well-known forms of holistic medicine that exists. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes that acupuncture is safe and effective for treating a wide range of health concerns.

How Ondol clinic can help

At Ondol Clinic, we offer a holistic approach to health, empowering you to lead your best life. 

Several services for your well-being, including acupuncture, herbal medicines, moxibustion (heat therapy), cuppingtui-na massage, and nutritional advice, will be available at our clinic.

If you would like to explore how to feel healthier and more balanced, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us as  Ondol Clinic and book an appointment. We are here to discuss your needs and help you get answers to your questions.  

Our next blog will dive into the Metal element exploring the Lung energy and the associated emotion of grief/sadness, so stay tuned.


1 Marshall AC. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology. Drug Discovery and Evaluation: Methods in Clinical Pharmacology. 2020;455-482. Published 2020 Mar 2. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-68864-0_60


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