In traditional Eastern medicine, there are five seasons, which are spring, summer, late summer, autumn, and winter. Each season is governed by one of the Five Elements and accordingly affects the human bodily conditions. In traditional Eastern medicine, there are also five climatic factors that significantly affect the human body. These five climatic factors are the wind, heat, dampness, dryness, and cold, which are a manifestation of each of the Five Elements.
Summer and heat are both governed by the Fire Element. In this post, I will explain how heat and summer affect the human body. Please note that the below content is for informational purposes only and in no way is intended to be a substitute for medical advice.
Summer – Season of the Fire Element
Summer is the time of expansion, growth, development, and flourishing when nature exhibits its splendor. In the summer, the Fire Element serves as the governing force in nature, in order to help all lives to flourish.
As the energy of the Fire Element becomes prevalent in nature, the human body also increases the consumption of Fire energy in order to maintain a balance with nature, drawing the energy of the Fire Element from within. Consequently, the Fire Element in the human body tends to become debilitated in summer.
The heart and the small intestine correspond to the Fire Element. People who dread summer could have a weak heart or a weak small intestine and could suffer an unhealthy Fire Element. If they consume the energy of their Fire Element more than they can handle, their discomfort aggravates during this season.
Bitter foods correspond to the Fire Element. The intake of bitter foods helps fortify the heart and the small intestine and stimulates the Fire Element in the body, according to traditional Eastern medicine.
Excitement and joy are the emotions that correspond to the Fire Element. According to traditional Eastern medicine, too much excitement and joy could hurt the heart and offset the balance of the Fire Element. Therefore, it is important to remain centered and to maintain a sense of balance and stability during summertime.
Heat – Manifestation of the Fire Element
Heat is an expression of the Fire Element, which moves to the surface and has the effect of ascending. Heat also has the tendency to ascend in an upward movement. Heated air tends to flow upward and heated water evaporates into the air. Also when we have fever, the hot temperature first manifests in our head.
Heat promotes growth, movement, and development. On our planet, the sun is the major source of heat and is essential for life and activity. Heat prevails in nature during the season of the Fire Element – summer.
While a proper amount of heat is needed for all lives, excessive heat depletes a life force in plants and animals. When excessive heat is not restrained by rain, plants wither away, flowers wilt, and natural springs run dry. Prolonged exposure to natural heat can cause some animals to die of dehydration.
Naturally, excessive heat greatly affects the human body. Heat is fundamentally Yang in nature, so its invasion abruptly leads to a temporary Yang excess, causing a fever, perspiration, dehydration, or flushing in the face, according to traditional Eastern medicine. Like a fire that quenches the water, excessive heat could deplete bodily fluids and provoke a frequent sensation of thirst, constipation, or scanty urine.
Given that the heart is an organ of the Fire Element, the penetration of heat could greatly affect the heart, accelerating the heart rate and the pulse rate. As the heart is affected, it offsets the general balance of the Fire Element in the body.
Consequently, it could trigger insomnia, irritability, or lethargy, and lead to unclear thinking, according to traditional Eastern medicine. You might have experienced these symptoms when you were exposed to heat for a long time on a hot sunny day without air-conditioning.
When heat attacks the body, it is recommended to increase the consumption of Yin foods such as mineral water, fruits, and raw vegetables (with the exception of peppers, onions, garlic and ginger, which are Yang foods). Tropical fruits have excellent cooling effects and are thus good for hot summer days.