By Julie Kelham, Acupuncturist
At the core of Chinese Medicine is the principle that nature is governed by Yin/Yang and the five elements: Wood, Fire Earth, Metal and Water. Each season is associated with a different element and with the energy system of different organs. Each element has a different colour, sound, emotion, and odour, time of day, season, and type of weather, taste and seasonal power.
In my last Spring blog, I talked about the Wood element, which was very much about planning, decision-making and having a clear vision in life. The energy of summer and the Fire element is more focused on moving forward and activating those plans/decisions using the dynamic Fire energy for expansion and growth. We are well into the summer season now, made up of long days and light mornings, with nature growing and expanding, as we see an abundance of vibrant flowers, vegetables, trees and shrubbery appearing.
The Fire element provides the energy to promote activity, excitement, communication and connection, warmth and love. Imagine the warmth of the sun shining through the trees, the flame from a candle, a cosy fire. At the same time, a forest fire raging out of control causing chaos and destruction. These all illustrate the different forms of the Fire Element.
The emotions associated with the Fire element are joy and sadness and our sense of self and identity in the world are also influenced by this element. When the Fire element is out of balance, a person may feel an ongoing deep sadness, a lack of emotional warmth and connection to others. A person may laugh when talking about painful events in their life or have no laughter or joy when talking about something pleasurable or joyful. At the other end of the spectrum, someone may feel excessive joy and elation causing disharmony. When our Fire element is in balance, we can experience joy and passion, our sense of self and confidence feels intact, we can express and receive warmth and love, we can feel sadness without feeling completely overwhelmed by the feeling or by the world around us.
The energetic systems of the Heart (Yin) and Small Intestine (Yang) are associated with the Fire Element along with two functions called the Heart Protector (Pericardium) and Triple Burner. The Fire Element governs the blood vessels and the Heart constantly pumps Blood around the body providing us with this dynamic life force. The Heart is our centre and has a special connection to all the other organs in the body. The Heart is the ‘Ruler of the Sovereign’ and has the responsibility to direct clear insight and influence.
Su Wen (Chapter 8) states:
“The Heart holds the office of lord and sovereign. The radiance of the spirits stems from it”
(Larre and Rochat de la Vallee, 1992b. p.33).
The Small Intestine energy gives us the ability to sort through ideas, thoughts or emotions. It also sorts out the waste from the much needed nutrients in the body. The Heart Protector enables us to be open appropriately, to have boundaries and flexibility rather than leaving the Heart vulnerable and exposed or cold and closed. It protects the Heart by shielding it from the blows and traumas in life and can be weakened by shock and hurt.
The Triple Burner relates to the upper, middle and lower part of the body and is important in the transformative function of moving fluids and Qi in the body and regulating temperature and warmth.
Depletion or excess of the Fire element can manifest in different ways such as poor circulation of Blood, cold extremities, hot flushes, heartburn, anxiety, depression, palpitations, agitation, poor short term memory, mental restlessness and a racing mind, insomnia, excess laughter or no laughter, over excitement, dullness in the eyes (In Chinese Medicine, the Shen is the ‘spirit of the Heart’. A person with healthy Shen will have ‘glitter’ or ‘sparkle’ in their eyes).
Ways to support and strengthen your Fire energy
Mint or Cucumber in tepid water or mint tea can be refreshing and helps maintain hydration and balance during the summer months.
Excess alcohol heats up the Fire element causing more heat during summer, so something to be mindful of, particularly over the summer months.
Try practicing a simple Qi Gong exercise called ‘The Inner Smile’. Begin with a smile and take a deep breath inwards letting the smile and feeling radiate downwards in the body to relax the Organs.
Do exercise which you enjoy as this will support and strengthen your Fire element.
What brings you joy, passion and enjoyment in life? Activities which support your connection with yourself and others will support your Fire. Connecting with others socially, politically or ethically, connecting with pets and animals and nature around us. Activities which generate passion and enjoyment, singing, dancing, sport. Meditation and yoga will help calm the Shen and Mind,
Come and have, or continue to have acupuncture treatment, as this can support your Fire element by strengthening, harmonising and regulating your Heart Qi, cooling and clearing heat if needed, nourishing your Heart Blood, calming your Shen and Mind. Acupuncture can help strengthen your Heart protector and harmonise your Small Intestine and Triple Burner energy.
Some examples of acupuncture point names on the Heart/Small Intestine, Pericardium/Triple Burner Channels illustrate the essence of the Fire Element perfectly such as: Ji Quan (Supreme Spring), Shen Men, (Spirit Gate), Ting Gong (Listening Palace), Lao Gong (Palace of Weariness), Nei Guan (Inner Gate), Wai Guan (Outer Gate).
Acupuncture is a dynamic from of medicine which harmonises and supports your overall energy base as well as addressing particular element imbalances within your body which could be manifesting on a physical and/or emotional level.
- Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture
- Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements
- Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture