One very important concept in Oriental Medicine is Five Element theory, which describes basic elements (fire, earth, metal, water, and wood) in the body and the inter-relationships of those elements similar to those same elements found in nature. Each element corresponds to specific organs, flavors, emotions, colors, seasons, etc. One such element is fire, which corresponds to the Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium, and metabolic function. Another element is earth, which corresponds to Spleen/Pancreatic system and Stomach function. The metal element corresponds to Lung and Large Intestine function. The water element corresponds to Kidney/ Adrenal system and Urinary Bladder function. The wood element corresponds to Liver and Gallbladder function.

There are many, many useful applications of this theory that help one understand and also treat many symptoms people may experience.  One application of the theory is nutrition.

A full Oriental Medical Examination (classical pulse and tongue diagnosis) is necessary to determine your constitution (basic overall state of health) and using that information, you could effectively choose foods which will gently harmonize the function of your body over time.  Please visit this link to learn more:

The following are some basic guidelines that could immediately apply in your life by putting such items onto your shopping list:

Earth: To stimulate spleen and stomach function (which correspond to the season of late summer), eat foods that are sweet, yellow or orange, for example, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, free-range organic beef or beets. Sweet cravings can indicate stomach and spleen deficiency.

Metal: To stimulate lung and large intestine function (which correspond to autumn), consume foods that are pungent or spicy; for example: garlic, ginger or moderate amounts of cayenne or jalapeno pepper (if you can tolerate them, of course). Spicy cravings can indicate lung or large intestine deficiency.

Water: To stimulate kidney and urinary bladder function (which correspond to winter), consume foods that are salty flavored or black; for example: black sesame seeds, mussels, walnuts or sea vegetables (such as hijiki, kelp or dulse). Salt cravings can indicate kidney or bladder deficiency!

Wood: To stimulate liver and gall bladder function (which correspond to spring), eat sour or green foods, such as lemon squeezed into water, dill pickles, chicken, kale, chard or green apples. Sour cravings (pregnancy!) can show liver or gall bladder deficiency.

Fire: To stimulate heart, small intestine, pericardium, or overall metabolism function (which all correspond to summer), use foods that are bitter flavored, like brussels sprouts, lamb, peaches or mustard greens. Interestingly, people who crave the taste of unsweetened coffee (bitter) are inadvertently making up for a deficiency in heart function in many cases!

Of course, nothing in this document is intended to replace any medical doctor’s advice.