In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and in many countries around the world, Summer is a beautiful time to pause and celebrate all of the hard work of the year so far – that we are seeing fruition in some of our goals set and plans made in the Springtime.
We’re moving from the birth and growth focused energy of Spring and into the expansive and active energetic quality of Summer. With the waves of warmer weather brings an opportunity to come out of our shell and into the sunshine. To warm up. To delight in the presence of friends and/or family. During the Summer season and the Fire element time, most plants reach their full potential stretching their limbs, stems, and petals out to the farthest points possible – and we humans are gifted with the same invitation. How much do you want to expand this summer? What new terrain calls on you? What needs celebrating?
If you’re familiar with my work and that of the Five-Elements, then you know that Summer is associated with the Fire element. The unique part about the Fire element is that there are not two organs associated with it – but four – and each of them actively work to keep the body warm or cool depending on what is needed to support the circulation and distribution of blood throughout the body. Ok – technically two organs and two functions!
The heart, small intestine, pericardium, and triple burner are the organs of the Fire element and all work together to keep the blood moving and sort through the pure versus the impure of what enters the body. Each organ serves its purpose in protecting the heart, the Empress.
What are you allowing in? What are you holding at arm’s length?
When the Fire element is out of balance, it is typically an indication of burnout, excess heat/inflammation, overexertion (especially if we didn’t rest and restore enough during Winter and beginning of Spring), and constantly going from air conditioning out to the heat of summer back into AC. The same can be said for managing the temperature differences with icy drinks and foods.
In Chinese medicine, we never drink iced things! And if you travel or work in east Asian countries like I do, you will see that people eat hot soup and drink hot tea year ‘round. Why is that? Because hot things make you sweat. And when you sweat, you cool off. Seems counterintuitive but try it sometime, would you?
On a deeper level, during the Summertime when the Fire Element is at its peak – we’re even more vulnerable to spirit imbalances like anxiety, insomnia, heart palpitations, etc.
Reflecting on the energy of Summer and the Fire element, it’s important to increase our intake of foods and beverages that not only nourish us but also increase and expand our energy by moving it upward and out. By consuming foods and beverages that move our energy upward and outward, this movement supports our heart, small intestine, pericardium, and triple burner in moving the blood, reducing stagnation, and lightening up our spirit to carry us through the rest of the year.
Signs of an Unbalanced Fire Element:
- Heart palpitations
- Chronic sadness
- Sensitivity to heat
- Inability to trust
- Vivid and/or disturbing dreams
Here are 5 Ways to Support Yourself (and all four organs!) During Fire Element Season:
- Slowly increase your raw food intake
- Avoid iced/frozen foods (except in small doses)
- Add bitter flavors to all of your meals (especially digestive bitters!)
- Eat foods that are red in color
- Consume less salt and larger amounts of protein
Each of these supportive methods nourish a balanced Fire Element, supporting the functioning of the Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium, and Triple Burner and engage in community connection, expressing our creativity, using our voice, and spending time with the sun. This is a magically potent time to be of service, work out more rigorously than Winter and Spring, laugh more to sooth the body, mind, and spirit, and cleansing/freshening up our outdoor and/or social spaces.