Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


Complementary Corner

Acupuncture and the Five Elements

Renee Lehman

The Fire Element, part 2

The Five Elements is the cyclical pattern of expression in nature as observed by the ancient Chinese. These Elements or energies are felt to be the prime energetic building blocks from which everything in the material world is composed, and were never seen as five "distinct things". So, every living thing and every person is a unique embodiment and combination of these Five Elements. The Five Elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal (see the figure below). In the first part of the article on the Fire Element, the associations of the season of Summer, and the two Yin and Yang Organs (Heart, Pericardium, Small Intestine, and Triple Heater, respectively) were discussed.


Remember that each Element describes a particular movement and the particular qualities which belong to a specific state of the changing energy seen in the universe. Together, the Five Elements help us to understand the process of dynamic harmony and balance in the whole system of energy. Therefore, when it comes to our health, if all Five Elements are in balance within us, then we are at a state of optimal health/wellness.

So, as you read this article on the Fire Element, Part 2, keep in mind that you are reading only about one part of a much bigger picture!

Summer is nature’s season for maturation and fulfillment. It is a time of long daylight hours. Hopefully you have been enjoying the warm days, outdoor festivals and picnics, Sunday afternoon drives in the car, ice cream with friends, and walks with a loved one as the sun is setting, all examples of the many gifts of Summer.

Along with being associated with the season of Summer, the Fire Element is also defined as having other associations. In this article the following associations will be discussed: a body tissue (Blood Vessels), an external manifestation (Complexion), a sound in the voice (Laughing), an emotion (Joy), a color (Red), a taste (Bitter), a direction (South), and a climate (Hot).

Body Tissue and External Manifestation Correspondences

The body tissues associated with the Fire element are your blood vessels. In the ancient text, Su Wen, it is written that "The Heart rules the Blood and Blood Vessels". Just visualize how all of your blood travels through the heart and then through the blood vessels to reach every cell in your body. In this blood are nutrients keeping you vital! A healthy heart determines your circulation (think about your heart as a pump), and hardening of the coronary arteries can lead to a heart attack.

The external manifestation of the Fire element is your complexion. Someone with anemia may have a pale complexion, someone who gets overheated may develop a "blotchy" complexion, and someone who is "stressed out" by relationship problems may develop some acne. All of these changes in complexion are related to the Fire element.

A well balanced Fire Element will show as: a strong, regular pulse; a healthy heart, healthy blood vessels allowing for good circulation throughout the body (good nail bed color and warm hands/feet), and a brilliant complexion.

Below is a list of questions that I would like you to ask yourself. Think about what shows up for you when you answer each question. You may need to "nourish" your Fire Element to bring it into better balance.

  1. Do you have any heart disease or hardening of the arteries?
  2. Do you have an irregular heart beat or heart palpitations?
  3. Do you have problems with your hands/feet being too cold?
  4. Do you have problems with fainting?
  5. How would you describe your complexion?

Sound and Emotion Correspondences

What sounds do you hear from children playing outside in the Summer? Joyful, playful sounds. The sound and the emotion that correspond with the Fire element are laughing and joy, respectively. If you had to draw what the sound of someone’s voice looked like when they were excited or when laughing it would probably look like flames of a fire (up and down in a jagged manner).

Think about the fire of the sun. We have the same "fire" within us. This "inner warmth" creates a sense of joy. Joy is seen when one cultivates and appropriately expresses this inner warmth. And where on the body is joy easily seen? On the face and especially the eyes! Just think of the famous proverb, "The eyes are the window to the soul."

A well balanced Fire Element will show as: appropriate laughter and joy, having the capacity for quality relationships and intimacy, charisma, friendliness, and passion for things in your life.

Ask yourself the following questions. Think about what shows up for you when you answer each question. You may need to "nourish" your Fire Element to bring it into better balance.

  1. Do you often "blow hot or cold?"
  2. How would you describe the quality of your relationships?
  3. How would you describe your ability to feel emotions?
  4. How often do you experience dread or anxiety?
  5. How much fun do you have each day and how often do you laugh?

Color, Taste, Direction, and Climate Correspondences

The color correspondence of the Fire element is red. Redness is associated with warmth and heat. What color is your skin when burnt? How red does your face get when you are overheated? Think about how you blush when embarrassed or being modest (this is the red blood flushing the face), and on the other hand, think about how someone’s face may look ashen or grey when they are not feeling vivacious.

The taste associated with the Fire element is bitter. Foods that tend to be bitter tasting are: asparagus, coffee, hops, kohlrabi, some lettuces, vinegar, wine, and don’t forget about dark chocolate (good for your heart). The bitter foods can decrease body heat and dry up excess body fluids. Doesn’t this sound like a great way to cool yourself in the heat of summer? With coffee you say? Yes, in fact in the Middle East, coffee is drunk even during the hottest times of the year to cause them to sweat and then result in cooling.

The direction of the Fire element is south, and the climate of the Fire element is hot. Think about how the south side of your home gets more sun, how it is warmer in the southern portion of the states all year round, and how summer is the hottest time of the year. This warmth is directly related to the Fire element.

Nourishing your Fire Element

So, if you are interested in nourishing and keeping your Fire Element in balance, try some of the following things:

  1. On a physical level, try aerobic exercise that keeps your cardiovascular system healthy (once you have had a physical by your doctor).
  2. Connect with people who are important to you.
  3. Cultivate relationships with yourself and others.
  4. Eat foods that are bitter tasting (dark chocolate), warming (black pepper), strengthening of your blood (red meat), and are red in color (tomatoes, cherries, red peppers). Avoid too much salt, fat, and stimulants.
  5. Be joyful when eating! Enjoy food with friends.
  6. SING!
  7. Take time to meditate – this will calm the distracting chatter of your mind.
  8. Celebrate life!

To do this, you may need a professional to work with you (a physician, nutritionist, acupuncturist, personal trainer, massage therapist, counselor, spiritual director, or other wellness professionals).

Until then, keep observing your movement through Summer, and how well your Fire Element is balanced. And remember: It is tempting to say that the ‘Fire is this or that’, or declare ‘I am only Fire, but this is NOT how the Elements are meant to be described. There are aspects of the Fire Element that resonate for each individual, and it should! The Fire Element is an integral piece of describing the ONENESS of the universe (including our own body/mind/spirit) that is constantly changing and transforming!

Read other article on well being by Renee Lehman