The element of Fire in Traditional Chinese Medicine
One of the theories in TCM, which governs a principle of its practice, is called the Theory of the 5 Elements. This theory divides energy (QI) in its natural form, into five qualities. These are structured around natural elements of Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. Each element may push or pull the natural order in our body into an excess or deficiency. The idea in TCM is ensure that there is no disharmony between these QI elements. For this you may use Acupuncture, prescribe Herbs, massage Tuina or recommend some Qigong exercises.
As we are in summer, the warmest season, we will write about FIRE, one of the 5 elements assigned to this time of year.
Fire can mean heat, something that is burning, also urgency or speed. Fire gives life, warmth and also maturity. An emotion associated with Fire for example is happiness.
Fire is also associated with Yang, movement or intensity. Where Fire is concerned we divide syndromes or imbalances in the body into two areas. FIRE Syndrome (HUOZHEN) and Syndrome of HEAT (REZHENG), though they are similar as the words define them they are very different in intensity. The first looks at an imbalance in the body that affect the person more from the inside, where an internal organ in Excess or YANG begins to affect other parts of the body, if not checked it will consume the YIN part of our organs.
The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor mentions that “When the YIN is consumed there is internal heat, an excess of YANG produces external heat. FIRE will always be an excess of QI.”
For health matters, Fire may be seen as having a fever, and there is a dislike to other elements, such as cold or wind. Fire manifests itself in headaches, dry mucous, thirst, and insomnia. Extreme Fire can lead to hyperactivity, to the extent of losing consciousness.
In TCM it is said that as Fire has an ascending property it will affect the upper regions of our body such as ulcers in our mouth, throat infections, gum problems, red eyes, etc. To follow on, if the Fire is burning YIN or liquids in our body, then water regulation is also affected; we may have dryness in our mouth or constipation and little urine.
Extreme emotions such as euphoria, sadness, worry, fear and anger may also produce Fire. Each of these emotions is energetically associated with an organ. An imbalance will affect the organs in its own way.
- Happiness with the Heart
- Sadness with the Lungs
- Worry with Spleen Stomach
- Fear with the Kidneys
- Anger with the Liver
How to get back into balance from Fire? TCM believes that internal heat is controlled by having clear objectives and act accordingly. The hard part is trying to understand what emotion is governing us at any given moment, and being able to express it. Try and do activities that are not always a great effort, enjoy doing what you do such as singing and dancing, even in the shower. FIRE is released when we express ourselves with motivation in any art form, but not looking for recognition, just pleasure.
As we are in the Fire season, Summer, protect yourself from too much external heat and drink plenty of fluids to make up for the fire burning the liquids, but above all, enjoy the creativity of the summer in all its form!