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The Element of Fire

As discussed in an earlier blog (see “The Five Elements”), the five elements used in Chinese Medicine are based on Taoist thought. Each element is said to reflect a natural phenomenon. In the early medical texts, the fire element was explained to encompass the characteristic of “flaring upwards”.

Within the sequence of elements, wood precedes fire. This is consistent with the natural world given that wood is used to create and sustain fire. In turn, fire is said to lead to earth. This connection is however less clear. Coal from a fire returning to the earth is an analogy which has been used to account for this connection.

Following are examples of how the element of fire is interpreted within Chinese Medicine theory.

Yin Organ: The Heart – The heart is related to fire. Treatment of fire related imbalances may involve treating the heart.

Yang Organ: The Small Intestine – Treating the element of fire can also treat imbalances associated with the small intestine.

Season: Summer – It is common for either (or both) the heart and small intestine to be out of balance during the spring.

Climate: Heat – The heart is easily affected and taken out of balance by heat.

Colour: Red – A rosy and lustrous complexion is indicative of a healthy heart.

Taste: Bitter – food and/or herbal medicine which is bitter will benefit the heart.

Sense Organ: The Tongue – The heart controls the colour, form and appearance of the tongue.

Tissues: Vessels – The heart’s energy is reflected within the state of the blood vessels.

Emotions: Joy – Excessive joy and over excitement can lead to the element of fire to become unbalanced.

Sounds: Laughing – Frequent laughing can indicate the heart is out of balance.