Summer Has Arrived!


Dr. Kristin Schnurr, ND

We experience Fire, one of the five elements from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, most fully in the season of summer. At this time, our energy levels that began rising in the spring expand to their greatest potential. We can enhance our own health by understanding the special functions of the warmest season. Through this awareness we can help balance our own Fire energy.
Summer brings the energy of Fire, which makes it easy for us to give and receive warmth. It is the time to enjoy the fruits from the ideas planted and the plans we made earlier in the year. Autumn, the season of letting go, will be all the more difficult for us if we have not experienced the fruition of our hopes and plans.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Fire element manifests in our body through the heart, small intestine, pericardium, and the function known as the triple warmer, which regulates internal body temperature. Symptoms of an inner Fire deficiency are: chills and numbness of the extremities, impaired circulation of the blood and bodily fluids, and menstrual, urinary, and sexual dysfunction. The lungs can lose their ability to expand and contract fully and easily, resulting in poor oxygenation of the blood, coughing, and nasal congestion. We may experience sluggish digestion, abdominal pain, and watery diarrhea because the digestive organs lack the heat needed to process and assimilate nourishment.

At the other extreme, excessive heat can result in painful inflammation of the joints, hyper sexuality, chronic infections, dryness of the lung, inflamed throat and sinus, burning diarrhea and urination. Excess heat can also dry out the stool and cause constipation. Affecting the heart, an excess of Fire can cause anxiety and sleep disturbance.

Fire affects the amount of fluid in the body: Too much heat dries up our internal reservoirs and waterways, and at the other extreme too little heat can result in an excess of fluid. Menstruation, sexual secretions, lubrication at joints, digestion, and metabolism, to name a few, reflect and depend upon the balance of our Fire element.

On a deeper level, the Fire element expresses itself as joy and manifests within us as love, laughter, and enthusiasm. During summer, the season of maximum expansion, we can become aware of ourselves at our fullest. Drawing on the expansive warmth of Fire we are able to reach out and relate to the world more easily.

When our Fire is low, we lack the ease of sharing joy or compassion. Though we might crave these qualities, our relationships may be fraught with anxiety and fear of rejection. We may feel sexually blocked or inhibited, shy, or emotionally cold and easily hurt, or even overly dependent on our partner. Without the knowledge of who we are in the strength of our Fire element, we can neither enter into relationships fully nor express our true selves. Instead, we plan and calculate our moves defensively, then present an image of ourselves that lacks integrity and is not sustainable.

At the other extreme, a Fire imbalance can manifest as being stuck in overexpansion like a never-ending summer: too hot, too much, always laughing, always joking, always talking, always “on,” finding it very difficult to slow down and rest.

When our Fire is healthy, it responds appropriately to meet the tasks at hand. We know when and with whom we can be warm and open, and when and with whom we need to be more protective.
How is your Fire? Is there joy and laughter in your life? Are friendships important to you? Did you grow up in a warm family? Was it cold? Is the emotional climate of your home stable and peaceful? Is there conflict in your workplace? How do you heal from a broken heart? How are love and sex related for you?
Know that in summer the energy of Fire supports you in enriching your enjoyment of life, your relationships, in getting closer and more connected, in outward expansion and in being receptive to others.

And remember, be patient with yourself, if you still feel blocked in this area, there will be another summer. We will have many chances to open, to extend compassion, to forgive.
Ways to tend your inner Fire
• Have fun on a regular basis, even if you have to work at it at first. Make it a priority – schedule your fun, if that’s what it takes. Don’t compromise. Consider fun as important to your well being as work or anything else you do.
• Give of yourself to others. Take the time to listen. Delve into your own heart and find what you have to give to others unconditionally.
• Live your passion, whether it be the singing in a choir, dancing, sea
kayaking, advocating for the environment, or spending time in the garden. If you don’t know what your special passion is, don’t stop looking. And when you find that great interest, dive into it wholeheartedly and enjoy!
• Get physical. Get into your body and out of your head. Exercise, dance, run or play. Practice heart opening yoga postures (anything that opens your chest). Basically, find something you love and get your circulation going.