Fire – The Element of Summer

The warmth of a fire attracts us, draws us in, and brings people together. It creates moments of joy, especially at an outdoor gathering of friends. One cannot help but move toward it to be soothed by the glow that emanates from it’s embers. It can capture our attention in a way that leaves us mesmerized for a moment. It is intense, but if controlled, it is a thing of real beauty.

The fire  person can be described in much the same way. Often this person may be called charming, magnetic, or charismatic. When healthy, they are friendly, warm, and connect easily with others. They tend to be passionate and dive into life with both feet. They are able to express clearly and appropriately what is in their heart. They are fun to be around, and exiting. Their smiles and laughter are infectious; they light up the room. They love fully and dream big. They enjoy telling jokes. They are empathetic and inspirational, and imaginative.

The virtue of the fire person is warmth, propriety, appropriate intimacy and connection with others, clear articulation, ability to act on what is right. They are in rhythm with life. The primary emotion is joy. Primary concerns are love, trust, and intimacy.

Interestingly, their body odor may be like that of a campfire. This may sound odd, but rub the bend in their arm and sniff. (Like a “Scratch and sniff” – haha)  They may have the color red in their skin tone or hair. 

For a brief introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine, please click here.
For a brief description of each element (phase) wood, fire, earth, metal, water, please click here.

General Pathology of the Fire Element

When unhealthy, the converse is likely. They tend to be over-controlling, and inappropriate with boundaries around sexuality. They trust who they should not trust, and have difficulty trusting who they should. They move from one passion to another, often forgetting the original plan. They may chase their passion to their own destruction, and not understand what happened. They have difficulty expressing themselves and become very hard for others to understand. They may not realize that they are expressing themselves in a confusing way and become angry with others for not understanding them. Rather than being the life of the party, the may even become the wall flower in the corner. They can be nervous, overly talkative, unable to relax, agitated, unpredictable, impulsive, sarcastic. They are essentially “out of rhythm” with life.

Common Health Concerns of the Fire Element

Fittingly, the primary organs associated with fire are the heart and the small intestine. A fire person is wise to give special attention to heart health. If over-stimulated they may experience congestive heart conditions, palpitations, rashes, migraines, insomnia, ADD/ADHD, arrhythmia, edema, stuttering, fidgeting, cold sores/mouth ulcers, or associated mental and emotional disorders, including mania, by-polar disorder, anxiety, forgetfulness, foggy-headedness, excess desire, even inappropriate laughter. They will also experience relationship issues.

Noteworthy: Firefighters on duty, face a much higher risk or heart attack. It is more likely they will die from heart disease than fire. If you love a fire-fighter, please urge them to take care of their heart health!

Optimizing Health (Summer, Fire)
Methods for reaching the highest level possible

  • The sensory organ of the fire element is the tongue. Watch for redness on the tip of the tongue. This may suggest excessive heat in the body. Also, watch for stuttering and lisps. This may indicate vascular issues or mental confusion.
  • Related to the small intestine, watch for excessive or spontaneous sweating, sweaty palms. this may suggest issues with gluten.
  • Avoid energy drinks, coffee, cigarettes, and drug use. This may include prescription drugs– of course, do not discontinue use of any prescribed medication without consulting with your physician!
  • A fire person may be able to release heat through exercise, such as dancing and swimming. Also, helpful are calming activities such as reading, message, or lying on the beach.
  • A good diet is crucial! Cooling foods will reduce heat issues. Bitter foods are helpful for heart conditions, and inflammation.

Healing Foods – Per TCM (Summer, Fire)

In general, enjoy brightly colored fruits and vegetables of summer’s bounty. Cook foods quickly with high heat. Or eat foods which are raw, sprouted, steamed, or simmered. Eat light meals. Reduce salt. Increase water. Counter-intuitively, it is advisable to avoid very cold foods on hot days, like ice cream, as these are not easily digested when the body is hot.

Cooling Foods

These foods are helpful if a person is manifesting excessive heat in the body. Indications may include mania, chest pain, rapid pulse, mouth ulcers, inflammation, swellings, redness, mental restlessness, dark urine, tongue with a very red tip, excessive talking or cussing.

Mung beans, red beans, apples, watermelon, mulberries, persimmon, lemon, peach, strawberry, kiwi, beets, bitter melon, carrots, lotus root, cucumber, celery, duck, oysters, sushi, mint tea, flower and leaf teas, bamboo leaf tea

A cucumber salad, with many of these ingredients, would be great! Watch for future recipe postings.

Bitter Foods 

These foods are helpful in cleaning arteries of damp deposits from cholesterol and fats. They help the body to purge toxins which cause or aggravate skin eruptions, candida, lung congestion, congestion in digestive track and vessels, abscesses, tumors, and cysts.

Bitter greens, like dandelion, bitter melon, arugula, radicchio, romaine, radish leaf, burdock root, chamomile, alfalfa sprouts, citrus peels, grapefruit, papaya, scallions, turnips, taro root, amaranth, quinoa, asparagus, broccoli, celery, vinegar.

For the fire person, bitter foods may be beneficial for regular incorporation in the diet.

Personally, I like dark chocolate (bitter) with strawberries (cooling). You, and your healthcare provider, must determine what is beneficial for you.

Heart Blood Deficiency – If there are palpitations, anxiety, difficulty in falling asleep and/or staying asleep, general restlessness, poor memory, then foods high in iron, like spinach and other dark leafy greens, may be beneficial. Also, rare beef, lamb, pork, chicken, chicken eggs, homemade soup stocks, grapes, apricots, dates, berries, kidney beans, gogi berries, longan.

Small Intestine Congestion: Indications may include ADD/ADHD, mental confusion, dyslexia, sexual perversion, general lack of clarity; one may feel congested. Completely eliminate gluten, dairy and sugar. Vegetables, particularly fibrous and low sugar content, should make up at least half the diet. Beneficial choices include apple, pear, berries, legumes, okra, avocado, kale, and other greens. If there is no indication of excessive heat, such as redness or a yellow coating  on the tongue, etc., then building digestive fire in the small intestine will be helpful. In this case, you may include ginger, cinnamon, and chilies.

For more information:


During summer months, this blog will feature bright colorful nourishing summer foods, using appropriate preparation methods to make these foods both inviting and bioavailable. You can, of course, adjust them according to your personal taste and needs.


Please note: This information is provided as a general introduction to the principles of TCM. Please consult you physician of choice concerning all matters pertaining to your personal health.

7 thoughts on “Fire – The Element of Summer”

  1. It amazes me that some of these foods are what I crave a lot of the time. And I love having a lot of small meals instead of big ones. This is fascinating and please keep the information coming!

  2. Wow, that’s amazing. I rubbed my arm and it smelled like a campfire…the tip of my tongue is almost always red and I love the foods that are mentioned. I may be on to something here.

Leave a Reply