An important aspect of a Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis is smell. According to the Five Element Theory, each element has a corresponding odor. Unlike a person’s body odor, the smell of an organ system which is out of balance will not be overpowering. Instead it may just suddenly come into the doctor’s awareness as he is talking to you or examining you. Each odor has its own descriptive name.
Wood is rancid
The liver and gallbladder organ system is responsible for the production of bile. The smell is like fat or oil that spoils.
Fire is scorched or burnt
Associated with the heart and small intestine, this smell is ascending in energy and can be found high in the air in the treatment room.
Earth is sweet or fragrant
Coming from the stomach and spleen, this smell is more sickly than sweet, like old decaying flowers.
Metal is rank or rotten
The smell associated with the lungs and large intestine is like that of rotting leaves in fall. It will be found around the floor of a treatment room, as it is descending in energy.
Water is putrid
If the kidneys and urinary bladder meridians are out of balance, there may be a smell of urine or ammonia, or a fresh smell like a salty sea breeze.
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