Summertime + The Fire Within

Although the sun has been a bit shy to shine this year, summer is here. The bees are buzzing over wild rose and lavender bushes, the hummingbirds are back to feast on honeysuckles, and I finally harvested the first radishes of the season. On our evening walks, the sounds and smells of people gathered in backyards over barbecued food overflow to the streets.

Summer in Traditional Chinese Medicine relates to the Fire Element in Nature, and Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium, and San Jiao organ systems in the body. Fire also resonates with the bitter flavour, color red, laughter as sound, emotions of joy and enthusiasm, blood + blood vessels, as well as the tongue as sense organ.

The utmost Yang season, Summer is about expansion, luxurious growth, illumination, connection, joy, and creativity. It is the time to bloom.

Summer in The Kitchen

As we gather around big tables under twinkly lights or campfires by the ocean, summer is the time to display the colors of the rainbow on our plates and decorate them with flowers… Bringing beauty in everything we do is medicine for the Heart.

  • Eat an abundance of variety to reflect the season of growth. Brightly colored foods of the summer are offerings of joy from Mother Nature: watermelon, berries, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes…
  • Cook your food lightly and add little spicy, pungent and fiery flavours. Steam/simmer foods quickly, and sauté over high heat for a short period of time.
  • Listen to your body and hydrate! Consume hot liquids to induce sudden sweating to cool the body, rather than indulging in an over consumption of cold foods. (This is a very common practice in my homelands of Turkey to sip on hot tea during the summer to sweat off the heat). Summer heat combined with too much cold foods can weaken the digestive organs, so consume iced drinks and ice cream in moderation.
  • Eat less and lightly on hot, bright days as heavy foods combined with the climate can cause sluggishness. If the weather is too hot, enjoy your meals in cooling atmospheres (picnics under trees, on patios…) and include cooling fresh foods such as salads in your meals.
  • Foods that reduce nervousness, treat insomnia, and calm the mind include: mushrooms*, mulberries, lemons, chia seeds, dill, basil, and chamomile.*if you are interested in foraging, the forest is abundant with oyster mushrooms right now.

Summer in The Body + Psyche

Fire element is represented by four organs in the body, in comparison to two organs that represent every other one of the Five Elements. This goes to show the importance of finding balance within our Fire element to find overall ease in our existence. Fire element in Nature is embodied by the Sun and its ruling of the cyclical movements of day and seasons. In the body, the Heart beats to create a similar rhythm for being.

Heart disharmony in the body can present in the body as: palpitations, pale face, speech problems, poor circulation, insomnia, menstrual problems, infertility, and aversion to heat.

The Heart’s spirit, or Shen, mirrors the function of the ventral vagus nerve, relating to our capacity for intimacy, vulnerability, and connection with others, as well as our ability to access consciousness, thinking, and a balance of emotions. When the Heart is in imbalance, every organ system is called to arousal. In hyperarousal, the Fire element can present in panic attacks, mania, insomnia, dark humor, and racing thoughts. In hypoarousal, it can cause flat emotions, dissociation, difficulty connecting, and poor focus+memory.

The gifts of the Fire element in the body include having high spirits, easeful social interactions, a healthy sexual expression, as well as feeling centered and connected to ourselves and the universe at large. Here’s some inspiration on finding ease and connecting with the Fire in our hearts:

  • As Nature exists in its utmost Yang state, surround yourself with the Yin of Water to find balance within. It’s also beach season after all.
  • Seek joy. Indulge in beauty. Create for the sake of creating. Tap into the energy of the season to support your thirst for life.
  • Fire element exists and finds harmony within the context of relationships. Cultivate capacity within for authentic connections with others. Cut out the unnecessary engagement (ie. social media) to shift your focus on what is genuine.
  • Check in with your Mind and Heart to see where they are at, and what they need. Here are some questions to ponder upon during Fire season:

    Can experience joy?
    Can I find love within myself and with other beings?
    Do I feel a sparkle and light in my body? Can I communicate it to my community? Can I see it in my eyes when I look in the mirror?
    Are my social interactions easeful? Can I connect with other humans, animals, and plants?
    Do my relationships feel loving and supportive?
    Can my mind rest at night? Can I fall and stay asleep? If not, what may be causing this?
    What is the nature of my sexual expression? Can I allow intimacy and pleasure?
    Can I love in the face of heartbreak?

  • Acupuncture can aid with nervous system regulation, as well as tuning our bodies to the Fire season. If you are experiencing anxiety, a scattered mind, insomnia, difficulty connecting with others, or simply needing preventative care, please reach out to a licensed TCM Acupuncturist, Practitioner, or Doctor in your community.
  • You can find me at Island Optimal Health + Performance (Rutherford Location) on Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays.

    Happy Summer!

*Disclaimer: This information is meant to invite curiosity and inspiration about what TCM Acupuncture can offer to one’s wellness. TCM is a rich and nuanced medicine that takes a comprehensive and holistic approach to wellness. If available to you, please reach out to a licensed TCM Acupuncturist / Practitioner/ Doctor to receive treatments and lifestyle counselling tailored to your unique self.


The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.
The Tao of Trauma by Alaine D. Duncan + Kathy L. Kain.MD.
Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Guide by Giovanni Maciocia.
Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements by Dianne M. Connelly,PhD., M.Ac.
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.