Fire Element

Summer is upon us. In the five element system, summer is ruled by fire element.  This is an extremely expansive season.  The extra fire from the sun fuels plant growth and expansion.  Lots of yang energy, which means, heat, fruition, passion, expansion, and glory.  The fire element is all about an external show of power, form and structure.

Mandala for the Fire Element

Mandala for the Fire Element

Summer in Phoenix is a good example of what excess fire/yang energy can do.  In Phoenix, the excess fire scorches the earth and instead of expansion we experience a withering of resources and energy.  Usually the water element is activated to balance and subdue fire.  We experience this as the summer monsoons.  The rain pours down to temper the effects of the summer heat. Good to prevent the fire element from turning everything to dust!

Similarly, too much fire in the body is experienced as inflammation and eruptions.  If balance is not restored, the internal organs can fall apart from the scorching action of the fire element.  The treatment?  Much like the desert monsoons, one can find relief with cooling substances such as anti-oxidant rich juices and herbs like burdock and dandelion root.  In contrast, conditions where fire is lacking, including indigestion, are benefited by things that create fire, such as the spices like cloves, cardamon, and ginger.

Sometimes it is not so clear how to treat digestive disturbances.  For instance, lack of “fire” in the stomach can result in intestinal ulcers (a fire condition) or other inflammatory conditions of the gut (cramping, gas and bloating).  From an allopathic perspective treatment for an ulcer involves suppressing fire by the use of anti-acids.  From a traditional perspective, the cause of the ulcer would need to be determined first.  Some people get ulcers from hyper-secretion of acid while others get ulcers from hypo-secretion of acid.  One situation calls for a cooling action the other requires more fuel be added to the fire.


Scientific Name:  Matricaria recutita.  Other chamomiles, i.e. Anthemis sp.,  have similar properties and can be used interchangeably.

Properties:  Good anti-inflammatory.  Sedative.  Do not underestimate this herb!

Preparation:  1teaspoon to 1Tablespoon per cup water as needed.  My teacher told me it would get bitter if steeped longer, but not necessarily stronger.  The entire above ground portion of the plant can be used.
chamomile flowersActions and Uses: 
Stimulates digestion and relaxes stomach muscles.  It lowers flatulence and is good with gastritis after heavy drinking.  It is an extremely nice anti-inflammatory for the stomach and duodenum.  Can be used as an enema for colitis.  Use five to fifteen cups of tea a day to get rid of ulcers.

Chamomile calms the mind and may help some fall asleep.  Excellent for calming children and colicky babies.  It is good for light to moderate pain, but don’t expect dramatic short term effects.

This is the best remedy for swollen eyes.  Use chamomile tea bags as a poultice directly on the eyes.

Can also be used topically to reduce inflammation and associated pain.

Contraindications:  May be a uterine stimulant.

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