Summer & The Fire Element: Supporting Through Diet
In Traditional Chinese medicine, every season is associated with one of five elements. For summer, we have the Fire Element. Both the season and this particular element are about expansion. This makes sense as the summer is the time of year where we become more active and venture out. In Chinese medicine, the summer and the fire are the most yang season and organ, respectively.
By supporting your own Fire Element (it is said that we each have a little bit of all five elements making us up), you can help to optimize your summer experience.
How do you know if you need to strengthen your fire element? Deficient Fire can manifest as chill, poor circulation, congestion, sluggishness, poor digestion, numbness and low libido, for example. Emotionally, we may be ‘cold’ to others or inhibited, empty and craving connection.
How to strengthen your fire element through dietary support?
The fire element corresponds to four organ systems of the body: the heart, small intestine, pericardium and the triple energizer (or san jiao). Supporting these organs will help strengthen your fire.
You can do this through the foods and herbal teas you ingest. For example, the small intestine is said to love apples, carrots, raspberries and asparagus. Of course, the fire element is also associated with the color red. So eating red foods will help strengthen your fire element overall. These would include, again, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, beets, cherries, pomegranate, (red) apples, watermelon, dates, red peppers, red meat, and kidney beans. In addition to foods with certain organs like and red foods associated with the fire element, you can also incorporate foods that are bitter, as bitter is the taste associated with the fire. Some examples of bitter foods include dandelion, parsley leaves, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula, kale, celery, corn, burdock root and sesame seeds.
In terms of herbal teas, there are quite a few red herbal teas you can incorporate into your lifestyle, including: hibiscus, raspberry leaf, hung hua, hawthorn berry, rooibos, rose or rosehip, or red clover. You can also find bitter herbal teas, including dandelion, that are quite abundant in supermarkets these days.
Of course, in addition to tending to our fire element, we want to make sure that we don’t go overboard or to any extremes! Some examples of an excess of fire are inflammation, infection, and the drying up of natural fluids. We might become stuck in an overly expansive expression of excessive fire such as hyperactivity, hypersexuality or intense emotion that doesn’t relent. So think of anything that is red and angry - such as developing a summer rash, acne, boils, flushed face and fever!
If we do find ourselves wiped out, with heat exhaustion or simply overstimulated, here are some exercises to balance the fire: swimming, slow dancing and yoga. To help balance the fire organs, you can utilize acupuncture, acupressure and Eden energy medicine. Finally, to calm a fire, practice gentle breathing techniques. Incorporating cooling foods will also help to tone done a fire that has gotten too out of hand! Some examples of these include: watermelon, mung beans, cucumber, and celery with chrysanthemum, dandelion and elderberry as great herbal teas. Red chestnut is also great as it can help with excessive anxiety or panic over seen in deficient or excessive fires!