The fire element, in traditional Chinese medicine, is the element uppermost in summer

Have you recently started struggling with palpitations, dizziness or lightheadedness, rosacea, hot flushes, panic attacks, a heavy sensation on the chest area or restlessness, insomnia or feelings of being burnt out? If so, it’s highly likely your body’s suffering from a seasonal imbalance – and you need to nurture your Fire Element (21 June-21 August). Here’s our naturopathic nutritionist Rhi Hepple’s advice on the support your body needs at this time of year

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Naturopathic seasonal support for The Fire Element
21 June-1 August)

As a naturopathic nutritionist I follow the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system of The Five Elements that bring balance to our mind, body, emotions and spirit. They work in a cycle within us all and outside us in the seasons. The Five Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. As individuals we may resonate with one element more than others and at various times a particular element can go out of balance which can bring up health issues and disturb our natural wellbeing.

We come into the Fire Element today (21 June) and stay with it until 21 August when we come into the Earth Element. During this summer season we need to work on nurturing our own Fire Element to support not only our health but also mind and mood.

If you are struggling with some recent health symptoms that have come up for you, it could be because of a weakness in your Fire Element which makes the change of season a challenge for you. Or do you always get ill at this time of year, then your Fire Element needs strengthening so you can be more resilient June to August. Have you experienced a time of stress recently which is now impacting on the health of your Fire Element?

What The Fire Element means

Physically The Fire Element is about the heart and heart supporters (the pericardium, and triple burner), and the small intestine which helps us to digest and absorb nutrients. It is also about the health of the tongue and blood vessels. Often during the Fire Element season we may see stronger symptoms in these areas.

Emotionally The emotions of this element are happiness but also lack of joy. Laughter but also its opposite: seriousness. Emotionally we may be feeling a need to be sociable, enjoying being around people, or we could be feeling very vulnerable and feeling drained by too much attention and wanting to be isolated.

Living true to your Fire Element

The Fire Element is a short but busy season where it’s natural to want to be out and enjoying the heat of the sunshine. Enjoying being around people and having a need for contact or even attention. It’s a time of growth. Those seeds we have planted should be nurtured and cared for and be coming into bloom or fruition soon so it’s a time of really ‘bedding’ in those essential nutrients, ensuring we are absorbing everything we need so that come the late summer we can fully manifest all our dreams.

Think of the Fire Element as the flames of creativity and inspiration, our deep ambition or our passion or vocation that burns inside our bellies and needs to be stoked and nourished for us to feel fully ignited. We may be feeling like a beautifully glowing fire that is mesmerising to watch, those flames dancing around and everyone is drawn to that warmth and comfort – or, conversely, we may have embers that simmer away but never truly ignite and flourish. In which case read on for what you can do about this…

Symptoms of a Fire Element imbalance

If you have a feeling of damp around this time (such as never being able to warm yourself up), then it will really be drawing away your vitality. Or if you have the opposite (feeling overly hot all the time, or hot flushes, or flushed skin that comes up and goes), then this is a symptom you’re not being able to control the Fire Element heat.

The Fire Element is vulnerable emotionally – we may be easily hurt, actually feeling pain in our hearts from a spiteful comment. Or we may be harsh and impatient of others. We may lash out or be unfeeling, or have a stutter and not be able to express our heart’s true emotions for fear of being ‘burnt’. Maybe we do too much at once, have a restless nature that has to be fuelled and satisfied but can then leave us feeling totally drained and burnt out from ‘burning that candle at both ends’.

An imbalance in the Fire Element can manifest physically in heart problems such as high blood pressure, issues with blood vessels, varicose veins, haemorrhoids or burning sensations in the mouth, hands and feet. You may have a tremble or suffer panic attacks or have a sensation of heaviness over the chest area. You may suffer with insomnia or feel restless or dizzy or light-headed. Perhaps you have a lack of sexual desire or impotency. And you may suffer with stomach pains or have malabsorption issues – particularly issues with being deficient in magnesium, B12, iron, zinc and calcium.

The Fire Element in balance

When in balance the Fire Element can help us to get out there in front of a crowd, hold their attention and ‘perform’ or be a great communicator. It can enable us to think on our feet and be spontaneous and enthusiastic. We would relish excitement and be intuitive and interactive with those around us, networking well and making good connections. Out of balance we may be highly strung or have a nervous exhaustion and not be able to relax or rest. People may be drawn to our warmth and energy or we may have a total lack of emotional warmth to others. You may be flirty and sexual… or be very sexually cold.

Sure signs of Fire Element imbalance

A sure sign of an unhappy heart are palpitations or dizzy or panicky feelings. Getting ‘a second wind’ and being wide awake 9-11pm, feeling restless and not being able to relax and fidgety. Or getting stomach ache after lunch or feelings of being very cold after eating lunch around 1-3pm. Twitching or restless muscles or tingling or numbness in fingers and toes. Or even having a hot or sore mouth or tongue, a red hot tip to the tongue that is peeling or red and swollen.

If you are experiencing a flare-up of these kind of symptoms it is good to look inward and ask if there is any feelings of vulnerability or broken-heartedness or feeling hurt by someone close to you. Historically we were much more in tune with how our emotions affected the health of our body. Ongoing, allowing this kind of emotion to be internalised will manifest in signs of ill health within the body. Finding ways to address emotional upset is important. Talking therapies, reiki and polarity therapy are great ways to rebalance the emotions.

So how can you support your Fire Element this season?

To stimulate the Fire Element we can eat more bitter foods (see below) which are believed to be good for the heart and also aid digestion. Bitter foods can stimulate our natural digestive juices which aid overall digestion, easing stomach pains and flatulence. In Ayurvedic medicine it is said that eating bitter foods can help with weight loss and control food cravings, plus they are anti-inflammatory and can help reduce fat and aid muscle tone and strength.

(As a caution excessive bitter foods can have contraindications and are not advised in large quantities especially if pregnant or breastfeeding).


Supportive food for the season:

  • Increase raw foods, salads of rocket and arugula leaves.
  • Enjoy chillis, sun dried tomatoes, red peppers, goji berries and radish.
  • Increase bitter foods such as; raw cacao, dandelion leaves, parsley, dark leafy greens such as mustard greens, collard greens, kale and Swiss chard and sesame seeds.
  • Good-quality organic coffee or water-filtered decaffeinated coffee (in small amounts).
  • Fruit: blue berries, raspberries, strawberries, redcurrants, pomegranates.
  • Spices for the season are turmeric, cayenne, chilli and paprika.
  • If you have too much heat then choose cooling foods such as cucumber and watermelon, enjoy your teas iced and eat more raw foods. If you struggle to heat up then add spices to your foods, drink warming ginger root tea and avoid eating too many cold foods or have something warm with your salads such as a miso soup or tea on the side.
  • Teas for the season are dandelion root, burdock, peppermint and rose.

Supportive supplements:

  • lecithin can help rebuild the lining of the small intestine
  • omega 3
  • magnesium

Secrets to a successful summer

  • Epsom salt baths are a great way to heat the body, absorb magnesium directly into the bloodstream and aid detoxification. Avoid in pregnancy, if you suffer with kidney issues and if you have varicose veins.
  • Boost your fire with exercise, massage and dry body brushing to stimulate the circulation.
  • Saunas are great or, of course, being out in the sunshine (taking care not to burn) and warming yourself up from the outside in.
  • Spend time with friends, laugh and make time for whatever brings joy to your heart.

Smoothie for the season

This smoothie contains a spice mix that actually counteracts heat spots in the body whether felt in the skin or inflammation in the joints. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory mix and great for the heart.

1/4 papaya

10 blueberries

Small handful of spinach or rocket leaves

1in peeled ginger root

Spice mix: 1/2tsp turmeric, 1/4tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4tsp ground cinnamon

1tbsp flaxseed oil or soaked flaxseeds

1 cup coconut water

Here’s to a happy, healthy, balanced summer!

Rhi Hepple, naturopathic nutritionist

To find out more about how naturopathic nutrition could benefit you, check out Rhi’s video