by Andrew Pacholyk MS, L.Ac
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we have a healing methodology called the 5 Phases (Elements). Summer is ruled by the Fire element and is expressed in nature as well as in the body. Growth, joy and spiritual awareness between the heart and mind are the focus during this season. Summer-heat belongs to the element of fire and is predominant during the summer season. Symptoms of summer heat are excess body heat, profuse sweating, parched mouth and throat, constipation, and heart palpitations. Overactive functioning of an organ system can result in symptoms of thirst, aversion to heat and craving for cold, infection, inflammation, dryness, red face, sweating, irritability, dark yellow urine, restlessness, constipation and “hyper” conditions such as hypertension.
Strengthening the immune system should be a part of any seasonal ritual! Any tonic formula that strengthens the essence, nourishes the Qi and regulates the heart is appropriate. Remember, the best form of medicine is preventative. Learning how to heal with the seasons is one of the greatest strengths in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Heart and Small Intestine
In summer, our energy dominates the Heart and the Small Intestine meridians. There is a secondary relationship to the Pericardium and San Jiao or Triple (Burner) Warmer. The heart dominates the blood and vessels, pumping lifeblood through them. The function of the heart is to circulate blood to the body. As long as the heart is in motion, blood circulates through the vessels maintaining life. The power of the heart manifests on the face. When our face is well supplied with life circulating blood, the fine capillaries in the face will present on the face with a rosy and lustrous complexion. Chinese medicine traditionally regards the face as a mirror of the condition of our heart.
It is said that the heart houses the mind or our Shen. The Shen is described as the Spirit. In the Huang di Neijing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon), the ancient Chinese medical text that has been treated as the fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine for more than two millennia, the Shen refers to the mechanism of change or the mystery of sudden and profound transformation, and the expression in a person’s face, particularly the eyes. When applied to our body, the Shen describes what would be called our physical vitality, mental activity, and spirit.
Sweat is considered the humour or fluid of the heart. A humour is a liquid or fluent part of the body. For example, The vitreous humor is the clear gel that fills the space between the lens and the retina of the eyeball Sweating is a natural cooling process for the body. Because sweat is the humor of the heart and blood along with fluids are the same source, there is a direct correspondence. Someone who has lost a large quantity of blood does not sweat, and someone that has excessive sweat tends to have poor blood circulation, anemia or excessive heat signs.
The heart also opens to the tongue. The color of the body of the tongue reflects the condition of heart blood. Chinese medicine practitioners often discover information about the heart’s condition from the tip of the tongue where imbalances of the upper (burner) organs, lung, and heart, may express themselves. The important signs in heart syndromes are palpitations, a tendency to be frightened, chest oppression, pain in the cardiac region, insomnia, nightmares, poor memory, and delirium.
The Small Intestine transforms food particles, separating the pure from the turbid. The small intestine receives partially digested food from the stomach and processes it for further digestion by separating it into what the body needs and waste providing its function to transfer what is needed to the spleen, which is in charge of transporting it to the five organ networks. Fluids reabsorbed and is passed on to the bladder. Solid waste is transferred to and expelled through the large intestine. The relation between the Heart and the Small Intestine is best shown in the mental activities of the two. The heart meridian communicates with the small intestine as they have an exterior and interior relationship and influence each other closely. It is of great importance to our spirit to be of clear mind and make wise decisions. Therefore, when the small intestine is out of balance, it can express as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea or indigestion. All of these disorders appear to have a huge emotional connection to their manifestation. Some cases of burning urination (particularly if accompanied by symptoms of dark or red urine) are treated by clearing heat in the heart. This heat, transferred from heart to small intestine is then carried to the bladder with the fluid wastes. Other symptoms may cause thirst, bitter taste in the mouth, tongue ulcers and blood in the urine.
The Pericardium takes care of protecting the heart. The pericardium is a double-walled sac that contains the heart and the roots of the great vessels. The pericardium’s outer coat (the parietal pericardium) is tough and thickened, loosely cloaks the heart, and is attached to the central part of the diaphragm and the back of the breastbone. Its inner coat (the visceral pericardium or epicardium) is double, with one layer closely adherent to the heart and the other lining the inner surface of the outer coat. The intervening space between these layers is filled with pericardial fluid. This small amount of fluid acts as a lubricant to allow normal heart movement within the chest.
The San Jiao is a term found in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), as part of modeling the workings of the human body attempted by early Chinese medical writers. References to it can be found in the oldest Chinese medical texts the triple warmer balances various forms of energy (qi), including the harmony of hormonal function. The San Jiao has been translated as the triple heater, triple warmer, three warmers or triple burner. The Shang Jiao (upper burner) – corresponding to the thoracic cavity. This space includes the lungs and heart and is associated with respiration. The Zhong Jiao (middle burner) – corresponding to the upper part of the dorsal cavity. This space includes the stomach and spleen and includes the Hepatic Portal System, various secretory pancreatic cells, perhaps the duodenum, portions of the lymphatic system carrying chyle, as well as catabolic and functions of liver cells and is associated with digestion. The Xia Jiao (lower burner) – corresponding to the lower part of the dorsal cavity. This space includes the small intestine, the large intestine, the kidneys, the bladder and is associated with elimination.
Together these four meridians are in charge of the processing, storage, and distribution of vital energy and therefore the maintenance of life.
The Fire Element
The element, Fire is associated with the Summer season and with heat. In the Chinese Medicine paradigm, the element is associated with the heart, pericardium, small intestines and related to the tongue.
Fire represents physical strength, force, courage, desire, initiative, fertility, passion, purification, and rejuvenation. It represents both light and heat. A positive fire person is strong, courageous and bold, dramatic and passionate in all areas within himself.
Emotionally, this element is associated with the mind and its stability. The heart is the “seat” of the mind and therefore, its highest expression is love. Enthusiasm, warmth in human relationships and conscious awareness.
Finding Balance in Joy
Finding joy in things we do can give great pleasure, satisfaction and the ability to appreciate all that we are given in life! The greatness of finding JOY in anything we do is an art, which encompasses other feelings of appreciation, happiness, and self-contentment. These wonderful emotions have a balancing counterpart and are found with every emotion we feel. On one end of the spectrum is Joy, on the other sadness. On one end of the spectrum, there is anger, on the other there is pensiveness. This balancing act we experience all the time.
From a Western Science point of view, emotions arise from complex chemical reactions deep inside our brain. We actually have different classes of emotions that arise from different brain areas. We have ancient, primitive emotions that we share with all animals that have brains. These emotions are very powerful and drive what we think of as instinctual behavior.
Traditional Chinese Medical Theory recognizes control of our body by Five Elements: Earth, Wood, Fire, Water, and Metal. Each of the Five Elements is associated with a particular organ. The Ancients related a variety of different characteristics with each element and therefore with each organ. Traditional Chinese Medical practitioners use such characteristics to help diagnose patients and to understand the etiology of the symptoms. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, joy is most prevalent in the Summer. It is considered the emotion of Summer. Although we can and do experience joy at any time or season, it is Summer when this emotion is most in excess. This is believed to be due to the changes of light and great heat which vary the balance within us.
Joy (Over-excitement or Manic behavior)
Affects the Heart and Fire Element
Slows the flow of Qi, then Fear controls Joy (Water controls Fire)
Common signs and symptoms include:
Mania, Disturbed Shen (possibly manic, risk-taking)
An example of this is:
Migraine headache caused by sudden joy from receiving good news.
Joy, as the energy of love, is one of the highest vibrations on this planet. According to the Universal Law of Attraction, as we think and feel we vibrate. And as we vibrate, we attract. When we vibrate with joy and love, we attract what is for our greater good.
Bring the joy, love, and happiness that’s already inside you to life! Sages tell us that joy is realized when the personality and soul are in harmony. Experience ways to go beyond conditional happiness to the blissful state of joy and love. As you resonate with joy, love, and happiness you automatically draw to you a more meaningful, healthy, loving life.
The experience of joy can:
*strengthen your immune system.
*regenerate your whole physical system.
*burn away the impurities in your emotional system.
*disperse worries, anxieties, grief, greed, irritation and other negative emotions.
*sharpen your intellect and strengthen your memory.
*clarify and balance your mind.
*expand your consciousness and understanding.
*open you to receive higher impressions, inspirations, and transforming energies.