Summer – The Fire Element According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Summer – The Fire Element According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

written by: Ms. Denise Thunderhawk
by: Ms. Denise Thunderhawk
Fire element symbol Fire element symbol

Excerpted

from The 5-Element Guide to Healing with Whole Foods: Discover Your Unique Nutritional Needs Using Ancient Medicine in Modern Life

(Lulu Press, Inc., 2016)

By Denise Thunderhawk, L.Ac.

Fire is the element of summer, the most Yang season. It is during this time when it is best to apply the principle of Yang: expansion, growth, lightness, and (outdoor) activity. It's a good time to rise early and enjoy time in the sun – in other words, "put your heart into it." Summer is also the time when many fruits and vegetables ripen. Because they are light, they cool us down and generate body fluids. Eating heavy foods during this season creates sluggishness, especially in the intestines.

Due to the warming nature of Yang, food preparation this time of year should be light and flavorful: use a variety of produce to create a colorful palette on your plate and spice accordingly. Pungent and slightly fiery spices (e.g., cayenne) are a nice addition to induce sweating, which naturally cools the body. Sauté, steam, and short-term simmer are best cooking choices this time of year because they use little heat. (Barbecue, a popular way to cook this time of year, can dry out food. Cook foods wrapped in foil or coated in moist sauces to keep food from drying out.)

Summer is the season to attend to the Heart/Small Intestine organ system by keeping cool in the heat of the season. Cooling, fresh foods like cucumber, fruits (berries, melons, tropical), summer squash, and salads (not drowned in heavy dressing but coated lightly with olive oil, vinegar, or lemon juice) will keep one's body temperature cooler. Drink your beverages hot/warm and take warm showers, to induce sweating. However, it is important to replenish those fluids lost through sweating with a sufficient intake of water and electrolytes. Also, the extreme heat of summer, combined with too many cold, raw foods, will weaken Digestive Fire. While it is popular to eat cold foods like ice cream during the summer months because we think they cool us down, cold foods actually cause contraction and stagnation of digestion. (Picture a wet towel being thrown on a small fire.)

Some Foods That Are Bitter in Flavor

Functions: descending (Yin), dry Damp, resolve Phlegm; clears Heat by inducing bowel movements; clear arteries of mucous deposits (Phlegm-Heat, which consumes body fluids that, in turn, dry and harden blood vessels); sedates (spirit/mind not housed in the Heart and results in insomnia) Foods: rye, oat, quinoa, wheat bran, amaranth; asparagus, burdock root, chicory root, carrot greens (tops), celery, dandelion and most dark, leafy greens; rhubarb,turnip, parsnips, green bell peppers, walnuts, bitter almond, vinegars (these are also sour); some black and green teas Herbs/Spices: celery seed, coriander, cumin, alfalfa, white pepper, chamomile, hops, valerian root, Echinacea

Fire Personality

Energy Self-assured; present; poised; strong emotions; highly instinctual; impatient; quick at making decisions; needs to be on the go; quick thinking; present moment; spark of intuition; good at initiating but not following through (creating new ideas, not good with the details); easily burned out; no sense of completion Speech/Behavior Patterns Superlative – exaggerates things; straightforward; confronting; speaks in short, picturesque sentences; speech bursts out like a machine gun; laughs quickly; doesn't bear grudges; thrives on recognition; can have big ego; make themselves center of attention; Fire feels no constraints – they start dancing and they can see themselves at the Bolshoi; they are informed; like to be on the crest of things; Fire needs focused recognition; needs plenty of fuel (mental); you let them know you see them in a consistent way; radiate love in calmness and peace/harmony; balance spontaneity with contemplation and wisdom Jobs Leadership; management; advertising; fashion – dress extravagantly, colorfully; intensive sports; love competition; action gives them a kick; must be kept busy (need mental and physical challenges); likes autonomy Life Lesson Conserve energy, build strength; practice moderation, avoid extremes; work in areas that provide enjoyment; learn to express feelings/needs; to know when to stop (boundaries for yourself); turn attention inward, find stillness, peace; balance love with contemplation, wisdom; allow inner fire to radiate outwards for all to see and feel

Energy Self-assured; present; poised; strong emotions; highly instinctual; impatient; quick at making decisions; needs to be on the go; quick thinking; present moment; spark of intuition; good at initiating but not following through (creating new ideas, not good with the details); easily burned out; no sense of completion Speech/Behavior Patterns Superlative – exaggerates things; straightforward; confronting; speaks in short, picturesque sentences; speech bursts out like a machine gun; laughs quickly; doesn't bear grudges; thrives on recognition; can have big ego; make themselves center of attention; Fire feels no constraints – they start dancing and they can see themselves at the Bolshoi; they are informed; like to be on the crest of things; Fire needs focused recognition; needs plenty of fuel (mental); you let them know you see them in a consistent way; radiate love in calmness and peace/harmony; balance spontaneity with contemplation and wisdom Jobs Leadership; management; advertising; fashion – dress extravagantly, colorfully; intensive sports; love competition; action gives them a kick; must be kept busy (need mental and physical challenges); likes autonomy Life Lesson Conserve energy, build strength; practice moderation, avoid extremes; work in areas that provide enjoyment; learn to express feelings/needs; to know when to stop (boundaries for yourself); turn attention inward, find stillness, peace; balance love with contemplation, wisdom; allow inner fire to radiate outwards for all to see and feel