What are the four elements?
Traditional Thai Medicine assumes that health and disease are primarily due to the balance of the body’s four elements. TTM considers these elements of utmost importance to optimal health and longevity. The elements can be upset through climate change, food intake, emotional or psychological factors, heredity, allergic reactions, environmental factors, astrological forces and sorcery, among other influences. Dietary regimes or medicinal herbs can therapeutically manipulate the elements.
Thai medical thought breaks down the world into categories based on the predominant element(s) present in any particular object.
The Earth element has the quality of solidity and is the primary in all solid objects in nature, such as rocks and wood. The Earth element is associated with smell; its sense organ is the nose. Earth is Sukhum, neither hot nor cold, and it is hard, has form, and is still stable. Earth is also heavy, slow, moist, sweet, bulky and rough.
Earth represents the structural organs that make up the physical building blocks of the body. There are twenty parts of the body comprised of the Earth element: hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, bone marrow, spleen, brain, heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, colons, intestines, stomach, and rectum.
Health issues like bone disease, tumours, and skin diseases result from an imbalance in the Earth element.
The stretching in Thai massage stimulates and detoxifies organs and creates balance in the Earth element by relaxing muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
With the quality of liquidity, the Water element dominates in fluids like water and fruits. The Water element is associated with taste, and its sense organ is the mouth. Water is cold, fluid, flexible, flowing, permeating and soft, and the Water element is also damp, sticky and soft.
Water represents all liquids, phlegm and semi-solids that flow through the body and that the body absorbs. The components of Water are bile, mucus, lymph, blood, sweat, liquid fat, solid fat, tears, saliva, nasal mucus, synovial fluid, and urine. The Water element resides in the Earth element and requires the Wind element for movement.
Any imbalance of the Water element will appear as symptoms of the organs associated with the Water element, such as blood disease, eye disorders, venereal and renal diseases, bladder or urinary tract infections or stones, diabetes, or any disease showing in abnormal urine or other bodily liquid discharge.
Thai massage stimulates the Water element by improving circulation, which helps maintain the organs’ healthy function.
With the quality of heat, you perceive the Fire element as the temperature in the sun, summer heat or fire. The Fire element is associated with the sense of sight, and its sense organ is the eye. Fire is hot, bright, clear, radiant, and acidic, causing reactions and constantly changing.
Fire has the nature to burn and destroy, but it also transforms, produces and spreads life energy. Fire supports the Wind and Water elements by allowing them to flow and move at the proper temperature. Fire also keeps the Earth element warm, maintaining the body’s organs and systems’ health.
The Fire element warms our body, and there are four manifestations of Fire in the human body. Fire near the lungs keeps the body warm, but near the heart, fire creates restlessness. In the digestive system, fire digests food, and fire in the lower part of the body causes deterioration.
Any imbalance in the Fire element shows as diseases of the heart, conditions relating to our digestive or lymphatic systems, or problems with our blood circulation.
Thai massage works on the Fire element by improving circulation and helping the body maintain the right temperature for optimal health.
With the quality of mobility, you see the Wind element in the movement of things in nature. The Wind element is associated with the sense of touch and hearing; its sense organs are the skin and ear. The Wind element is cool, dry, rough, uneven, light, and piercing.
Wind provides energy for movement in all activities and functions of the body. Wind energy flows through the body in six different directions. One type of Wind flows from the lower part of the body to the upper. The second Wind flows in the reverse direction, from the upper to the lower part of the body. The third Wind flows inside the abdominal cavity but outside the stomach and intestines. The fourth Wind flows inside the stomach and intestines. The fifth Wind flows throughout the entire body via blood circulation. And finally, the sixth Wind flows as breath through inhalation and exhalation.
Any imbalance of the Wind element will manifest itself as symptoms of the organs associated with the Wind element, such as pneumonia, cough, mucous congestion, tuberculosis, bronchitis, other respiratory infections, fainting, dizziness, and arthritis.
Thai massage helps direct the Wind elements to flow correctly to benefit the body.