Traditional Chinese Medicine

Pathological Cycles of the 5 Elements

When the 2 cycles of Sheng and/or Ke relationships get out of control, deficiency or excessive occurs in the organ systems and diseases occur.

There are 2 ways the Sheng cycles can be out of control, when the relationships between the mother and child elements are not in harmony. They are:

  1. Mother Affecting Child 母病即子
  2. Child Affecting mother 子病及母

Within the Ke cycle, the grandparents and grandchild elements can also get out of control, either with grandparents exerting too much restraint or the grandchild out of control. They are:

  1. The Overwhelming Cyclce (Cheng Cycle) 五行相乘
  2. The Insulting Cycle (Wu Cycle) 五行相侮


Sheng Cycle Pathologies

Ke Cycle Pathologies





Mother illness affecting the health of the child

Child illness affecting the health of the mother

Excess inhibition from the grandparents causing the grandchild to become weak (Apparently this is the most common pathological condition seen in practice)

Reverse Ke cycle. This happened when the grandparent is weak and grandchild is excessive, the flow of control is reversed and the grandchild takes control of the grandparents.

Analogy: A overworked mother not able to care for her child, thus leaving the child undernourished.

Analogy: A chronically ill child requiring all the attention from the mother, thus the mother is left stressed out and sometimes become sick herself

Analogy: See above

Analogy: See above

Example: Liver blood deficiency —> Heart blood deficiency

Example: Spleen deficiency leads to heart deficiency

Example: Excess heart fire inhibit Lung metal element, causing problem in the lung as well. This is very similar to cardiac disease leading to pulmonary pathology in Western medicine

Example: If Lung metal is excess (the grandchild) and/or the heart fire (the grandparent) is weak, the lung problem can begin to cause problem for the heart.


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