What is the Fire Element? The Fire Element is one of the five elements in the Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory (TCM). As we discussed previously, the five elements are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood, as shown in the diagram below. They are inter-related; they support each other in a clock-wise direction. Wood controls Earth, Earth controls Water, Water regulates Fire, Fire controls Metal, and Metal controls Wood. Therefore, if one element is out of balance, it will affect the other four elements; and when one element is out of balance, others have to compensate for the losses.
In the last blog we talked about the Wood Element and its meridian stretches, Wood supports Fire, and Fire supports Earth. The Fire Element is the biggest element amongst the five. It consists of the Heart organ, Small Intestine, Pericardium and Triple heater. The functions of the Fire element are integration, assimilation, circulation and protection. The Heart is the centre and the engine of the body. It pumps oxygenated blood and nutrients around the body through a network of arteries and veins. It also removes unwanted waste products and carbon dioxide. It is the driver of the whole circulatory system.
In Chinese Medicine, the heart is the housing of “Shen” or “神“ in Chinese, which means our spirit, mind or consciousness. The heart is also known as the Emperor of the body; the Pericardium is the Emperor’s guard, and the Liver is the Emperor’s Commander.
The Pericardium is the outer layer of the heart. It consists of an inner serous membrane layer and a structural fibrous outer layer to keep the heart in the right place. The small intestine works with heart as the ‘yang’ pair organ. It absorbs nutrients from the food we eat and it completes the chemical digestion of the food we consume. The Triple Heater or triple warmer works with the Pericardium to aid in warmth circulation. The body is divided into Upper warmer, Middle warmer and Lower warmer. Upper warmer consists organs such as the heart and lungs. Middle warmer consists of liver, gallbladder, stomach, and spleen. Lower warmer consists of small intestine and large intestine, kidney and urinary bladder.
The Heart meridian is relatively short, and only consists of 9 major acupressure points starting at the deepest part of the armpit Ht1. It then travels down between the biceps and the triceps towards the elbow Ht3, then the medial part of the anterior of the arm towards the wrist Ht7, and it finishes on the small fingernail’s base Ht9.
The Heart is the yin organ, and Small Intestine is the Yang organ in the Fire element. The Small Intestine meridian consists of 19 acupressure points. The channel starts from the ulnar side of the little finger nail base SI1. It travels along the edge of the hand to the wrist SI5, and up along the edge of the ulnar to the medial part of the elbow SI8, then it travels up in the middle of the triceps to the shoulder just above the crease SI9. It then zigzags through the scapula to cervical vertebra 7, SI15, then travels through the side of the neck to behind the jaw, to the cheek bone SI18, then back to the ear SI19 between GB2 and SJ21.
The Pericardium is also a yin organ. Its meridian starts from the lateral side of the nipple PC1 and travels up the chest to the same level of the axillary crease, then it descends along the interior side of the biceps to the inner elbow PC3, then it travels down the middle of the medial side of the arm to the wrist PC7, through the centre of the palm and finishes on the radial side of the middle finger nail PC9.
The Triple Heater meridian regulates body temperature and water passages within the three warmers. Its meridian has 23 pressure points. It starts from the ulnar side of the 4th finger TH1, travels up through the centre of the dorsal side of the wrist TH4, then travels up the middle of the forearm to the elbow bone TH10, and continue ascending through the back of the triceps to the back of the deltoid TH14. It then travels along the back of the shoulder just above the scapula TH15, then it ascends to the back of the ear TH17, and wraps around the back of the ear to the front of the ear just above SI19 and it finishes at the end of the eyebrow TH23.
Psychological impacts of fire element imbalance include jumpiness, nervousness, oversensitive, anxiety, lack of concentration and forgetfulness, paying too much attention to details, cautiousness and avoidance of social life. Physical symptoms of fire element imbalance are tension between scapulae, shortness of breath, palpitation, sweaty hands, tension around throat area, neck and shoulders tension, lower back pain due to blood stagnation in abdomen, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, restless, high blood pressure, cold extremities, itchy skins and swollen glands.
The tissues that fire element governs are blood vessels. The sense organ for fire element is tongue and the sense is speech. Good communication skills and speech indicates good heart energy. Its physical manifestation is complexion. When the element is out of balance, the skin colour might show red or purple, body odour is burnt smell, and body might have excessive sweat. The season for the fire element is summer; hot summer days are damaging weather for the fire element. The Fire element prefers a southerly direction to prevent excessive heat or hot weather. Colour preference for fire element is Red, and the element likes bitter taste. The negative emotions for this element are panics, excitement and nervousness. Its positive emotions are joy, calmness and love. Laughing is good for the element, and talking too much will deplete the element’s energy. The body areas for the fire element are the chest and between the scapulae.
The time of day for fire element is between 11am and 3pm during the day, and 7pm to 11pm during the night. The yin organs of the fire element, heart and pericardium occupies the time between 11am to 1pm and 7pm to 9pm respectively. The yang organs of the fire element, small intestine and triple heaters occupie the time between 1pm and 3pm, and 9pm to 11pm respectively.
Nurturing foods for fire element are sweet corn and round leafy veggies. The heart houses the mind, spirit or consciousness. Foods that can calm the mind or Shen are lotus seed, red dates, oyster, lemons, adzuki bean, buckwheat and wheat. Foods that can nourish the heart blood are red grapes, rice, steak, chicken breast, beetroot and sweet corn. Foods that can reduce heat in the fire element are soybeans, asparagus, lettuce, celery, cucumber, rhubarb, seaweed pears, watermelon, pineapple and green tea. Foods that can regulate blood flow in the fire element are vinegar, radish, cinnamon, oats, red wine, eggplant, watercress, turnip, cherries and apple cider. Herbs that can invigorate energy flow in the fire element are Chinese Ginseng, angelica root, and water lily bulb.
Exercises that can help to strengthen the fire element are singing, Karaoke, swimming, walking, Tai Chi, meridian stretches, breathing meditation, chi-gong, Pilates, group exercise, and group dancing.
Regular shiatsu massage can promote blood circulation and energy flow to release physical tension and emotional tension within the body and harmonise the organs and its meridians in the fire element.
Benefits of the Meridian Stretches
Regular practice of Meridian stretches can increase your muscle tone, your body flexibility, your body’s immunity, blood circulation, smooth flow of energy in the twelve meridian channels and the nourishing of the internal organs.
Heart Meridian stretches (11am-1pm)(yin)(Fire)
Place your feet sole to sole; breath-in as you rock your body from side to side and bring feet towards your groin. Breath-out as you bend your head forward as far as you can until your head touches your toes. Repeat the sequence six times. Be mindful with your breath, imagine that your heart meridian channels in your arms and legs are filled up with fresh energy and revitalise your heart.
Small Meridian stretches (1pm-3pm)(yang)(Fire)
Place your feet sole to sole, hold your ankles with your hands, rocking your body from side to side and try to maintain your centre of gravity. Repeat the sequence six times.
Pericardium Meridian stretches (7pm-9pm)(yin)(fire)
Cross your legs, breath-in as you crisscross your arms and place your hands on your knees; breath-out as you bend your head forwards. Then, swap your arms, and crisscross your arms and place them on your knees, breath-out as you bend your head forwards. Repeat the sequence six times.
Triple Warmers Meridian stretches (9pm-11pm)(yang)(fire)
Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and with your arms crisscrossed over your chest, breath-in and turn your waist to one side and breath-out; back to starting position, breath-in and turn your waist to the other side and breath-out. Repeat the sequence six times.