In traditional Chinese medicine, the Five Element Theory describes the Fire element as the essence of summer: warm, expansive, and symbolic of the fullness of growth. Fire is strongly associated with both relationships and mental function, and those with a predominantly Fire personality tend to be talkative, charismatic and outgoing.
TCM Organs Associated with the Fire Element
The yin organ associated with the Fire element is the heart. In addition to controlling blood circulation, TCM regards the heart as being responsible for mental activity, thoughts and ideas. Both the mind and spirit, or Shen, reside in the heart. The Shen is the source of our creative energy, self-awareness, compassion and vitality. Imbalances in the Fire element can manifest as heart problems such as palpitations, high or low blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, as well as mental or emotional issues.
The yang organ associated with Fire is the small intestine. This organ is responsible for “separating the pure from the impure,” as it absorbs nutrients from food and passes on waste. In addition to its physical duties, the small intestine confers mental clarity, helping us to discriminate between what is good and bad, beneficial and detrimental.
Emotions Associated with the Fire Element
Joy is the emotion associated with Fire. In traditional Chinese medicine, joy is understood to be more than just a feeling of happiness or elation. Excess joy can manifest as overindulgence, agitation or mania. The characteristic personality type of Fire is outgoing and sociable, but if this is carried to an extreme, they can become agitated, suffer from nervous exhaustion, insomnia, or delirium.
Other Correspondences to the Fire Element
The Fire element corresponds to the hours of 11 am to 3 pm, the brightest time of day.
The sounds of the Fire element are laughter and speech. Laughing too frequently or inappropriately, or talking incessantly may indicate an excess in the Fire element. Conversely, rarely talking and never laughing are indications of a Fire deficiency. The Fire element is associated with the tongue, and Fire types tend to be talkative and articulate, but an imbalance can cause speech impediments, stuttering or aphasia.
The blood vessels and complexion are associated with Fire. A healthy heart will efficiently pump blood throughout the body. A pale, colorless complexion indicates an insufficiency of blood from the heart.
The color corresponding to Fire is red, and the flavor associated with this element is bitter. Excess heat in the body is often associated with an inflammation, and many medicinal herbs that have anti-inflammatory properties are bitter and cooling.
Michael and Lesley Tierra. Chinese Traditional Herbal Medicine, Vol. 1. Lotus Press, 1998.
Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold. Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine. Ballantine Books, 1991.