Heart Fire: Summer Element
In the Chinese five phases of nature, the wood element of spring transitions into the fire element of summer. Because of the upward, expansive nature of fire, it is the most dynamic and most difficult element to sustain balance. Fire is the most Yang energy in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy.
When the Fire element is balanced, it can be the source of passion and dynamism. When the energy is blocked, it cannot flow smoothly and stagnated areas become overheated which can manifest in inflammation. Heart Fire is a TCM diagnosis of excess — over the top — energy with the potential to disrupt one’s health, physically, psychologically and spiritually. Often, Heart Fire develops and coexists with Liver Fire. Emotional tension is the most common underlying factor in this condition.
Prolonged stress, anger, frustration, resentment, and depression, or juggling too many activities without enough “down time” and poor eating habits, all contribute to a build up of heat, which disrupts the energy’s proper flow.
Patients typically seek help when they are experiencing any combination of symptoms including but not limited to:
- Trouble sleeping/insomnia
- Anxiety or restlessness/irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hot flashes
- Dry mouth and excessive thirst
- Tension in the chest
- Trouble with racing thoughts/overactive mind
Insomnia is the most common complaint in the summer. Patients either have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or their sleep is filled with disturbing vivid dreams and they wake feeling tired or groggy. When this continues for several nights, insomnia alters the brain’s chemistry and can become chronic.
The acupuncturist will make a diagnosis based on the pattern of symptoms present. There are a few different patterns for insomnia, but all of them include the heart or heat. The practitioner can recognize what patterns affect the patient and treat according to TCM protocol. The acupuncturist will treat the root cause of the symptoms, not the symptoms themselves.
Fortunately, acupuncture is very successful uncovering and correcting the blocked energy, returning the patient to a calm and more balanced state. The symptoms disappear of their own accord once proper diagnosis/treatment is achieved. Always, diet and lifestyle changes are necessary for sustained benefits and long-term results.
If a patient experiences serious situational difficulties that cannot be remedied or avoided, acupuncture can mitigate the damage that is caused by the emotional tension. The goal of treatment is to clear the heat and calm the spirit.
Cooling and Calming Food:
Calming foods to eat 1-2 hours before going to bed
Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pineapple, bananas, cherries, lemon balm (tea),
Foods to avoid before bedtime:
Alcohol, pizza, tacos, steak, spicy foods, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Cooling Foods to Quell Heat Excess:
Cucumber, plantain, avocado, apples, pears, bananas, lemon, melon, yogurt, artichoke, beet, shellfish, summer squash, Swiss chard, navy beans, valerian (tea).