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What is the best (most logical or physically practical) way, if it is even possible, to use elemental magic for the purpose of healing ? What element or elements would be manipulated in healing.

This elemental magic uses four basic 'elements'; water, air, fire, and earth and some magic users are able to use a combination of the above. A very basic knowledge of biology and physics is used by some magic users to assist/enhance their ability with the elements they can manipulate.

EDIT: To clarify what I mean by the elements; fire is fire and can be used for heating/burning etc. Water includes mixtures that are mostly water. Air is the same as what we breathe on earth (yes, mostly nitrogen, but the knowledge of a periodic table is close to non-existent). Earth includes dirt, stones, some metals (depending on the abilities of the mage), and most similar earthy stuff.

I am especially interested in combinations of two, or three (maybe even all four) of the elements (though being able to use all four is extremely rare).

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closed as too broad by JDługosz, Aify, Separatrix, Frostfyre, James Jun 6 '16 at 14:17

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ You ask about the possibilities of magic. They are literally endless. If you want them to work for healing, they work for healing. You are building your world! That being said, have you looked at TCM from China? They use 5 elements, not 4, but they make claims to heal with it which are frustratingly hard to debunk if you desire to believe they cannot work without a Western Science backing. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon May 30 '16 at 1:44
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon I am not necessarily asking about the possibilities of magic (I understand that the possibilities are as I set them in my world). However I would like things to make sense when it comes to healing and as such I am asking for ways to use magic to manipulate the elements in order to heal people that make some sense biologically and in relation to physics also. $\endgroup$ – Theyna May 30 '16 at 1:52
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    $\begingroup$ The 4-way division into "earth, air, fire, water" really doesn't make sense in light of our current knowledge of biology and physics, so that makes it tricky to answer your question from a scientific standpoint. As Septab mentions in an answer, historically, "elements" were associated with different kinds of healing in more metaphorical ways. In Europe, an example of this was humorism. $\endgroup$ – sumelic May 30 '16 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ In the Suicide Squad comics, El Diablo uses his elemental power of fire to burn toxins from the blood of a poisoned person. $\endgroup$ – Renan Jun 3 '16 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ organic matter (including us) is usually found under "earth" in your definition you have earth as including "some metals" so you could also (potentially) take advantage of iron in blood $\endgroup$ – Ajnatorix Zersolar Feb 19 '18 at 10:35
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The use of greek "elements" in medicine:

Fire:

Well, this one is, in my humble opinion, the most direct and obvious of these elements. It's a plasma or very hot air.

  • cauterize wounds to prevent excessive bleeding
  • sterilize utensils for operations
  • production of activated charcoal for treating certain poisons.
  • Easy solution to hypothermia, of course.

Water:

  • clean wounds (especially if "alcohol" is a kind of water or water+fire mixture)
  • If you can direct water, you can re-inflate lungs
  • Also assuming you can direct water, you can treat diarrhea or constipation.
  • Clean arteries or help with cardiac arrest? This one is kinda tricky, since blood is mostly water, but filled with other stuff.

Air

Assuming air can be directed, and is the average composition as found on Earth.

  • Reinflate lungs
  • Removing poisonous air from lungs, such as the case of heavier-than-air chemicals in lungs (of course, simply flipping someone upside down could work just as well.)
  • Breathing aid, for when people experience respiratory failure.

Earth

Okay, this will make some assumptions as to what pure, elemental earth is. Is earth clay? Basalt? Lava? Salt? I don't know, but assuming earth is something along those lines:

  • Treating poison with activated charcoal, clay, or palygorskite.
  • Did I mention palygorskite? It treats diarrhea.
  • If salt counts as earth, you could use it to clean wounds.
  • If wood and plaster fall under earth (earth + other elements?), then you can use these to make splints for legs and arms or braces for necks.
  • Clean arteries? I don't know what arterial plaque would count as, but if you can convince it to move out of the way or dissolve in blood, you can be better than a stent.
  • An impromptu bandage for wounds, assuming you make bacteria, parasite, and virus free mud.
  • Assuming bone is "earth," you can set or even mend bones with it. (Thanks, SJuan76!)

There can be more uses, but these are some that I found.

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  • $\begingroup$ Earth = broken bones / regenerate tissues around wounds. $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 May 29 '16 at 23:42
  • $\begingroup$ I like a lot of these suggestions, not sure about the bone being manipulable by earth though. Can you think of anything that could involve combining elemts? $\endgroup$ – Theyna May 30 '16 at 2:25
  • $\begingroup$ I'm currently writing a rpg with a lot of elemental magic and this is almost how I manage magic healing. I would add telekinesis with air and maybe a form of it with earth : "cerakinesis" for the bones. $\endgroup$ – MakorDal May 30 '16 at 6:54
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The human body is basically a combination of water, and minerals that are similar to mud. Air & Heat are both things we produce/use, but what we're made of is basically reorganized volcanic mud. In a magic/4-element setting, it pretty much would make sense to call us mud elementals. So other than specialty uses, general "healing" would probably be a water-earth combo.

Edit: On further reflection, the human body is roughly 80% water, with the other 20% being the assorted minerals. The vast majority of wounds that humans suffer from in a combat setting are heavily related to blood-loss, and that blood-loss resulting from a lack of blood pressure. Water also serves as a conduit for most of the things in our body. However, all of the complexity of our body (DNA, organelles, protiens, etc.) are all more complex chemicals... or "Earth."

So if you wanted to further designate, water would probably be field triage, be a relatively easy and common skill of just preventing death while the wound is bound by conventional means and heals normally.

Anything more complex or involved (stitching wounds shut, setting bones, curing illness and poison, etc.) would likely be Earth.

Also, probably repeated water-healings without time between or without assisted earth healing would probably result in lightheadedness as blood becomes more and more diluted.

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The doshas system of Ancient India holds that the human body is made up by five elements: fire, water, earth, air and ether. People can be predominantly one dosha or several, and it goes something like this (this is from memory from a class taken years ago): Vata is air and ether. Movement (thoughts, food etc). Imbalanced people are impulsive and upset Pitta is fire and water and concerns the blood and digestion. Imbalanced people are angry and lustful Kapha is earth and water. Imbalanced people are sluggish and sleep a lot.

Food has a lot to do with it too, and one's dosha can be aggravated or balanced depending on your diet and habits. Like, no spicy food for aggravated pitta and no creamy foods for kapha.

I think it can be applied to elemental healing magic because it holds that the elements are in us already, and also in outside forces like food. Maybe the magic could play off what each person has in them predominantly, both healer and healed.

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  • $\begingroup$ interesting concept, thanks for your input $\endgroup$ – Theyna May 30 '16 at 2:07
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In the Wheel of Time universe, magic users use Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Spirit. For the first half/two thirds of the books, Healing was done using only Water, Air and Spirit, but (spoiler alert) later in the books they discover a better method, using all five elements. Frustratingly, the books never go into detail as to how each element is used for that, but in-universe it's obvious that the combination of all five is way better than using only three, so that implies Earth and Fire have a valuable role to play.

I wish I could give you more detail, but despite looking around on the interwebs for a while, I can't find any more specifics.

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