The Five Elements: Summer, Fire, and the Heart - Root + Bones

The Five Elements: Summer, Fire, and the Heart

A central feature of TCM cosmology is The Five Elements framework, which expands upon the cyclical interplay of Yin and Yang. Each element – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water – represents a specific season, organ system, bodily tissue, emotion, taste, color, and other energetic qualities. The Five Elements interact to form complex relationships that elaborate upon the phases of life’s natural cycles, each person’s individual constitution, and the affinities of every tonic herb. This framework highlights the comprehensive nature of TCM that incorporates all of nature’s laws and phenomena – ultimately, mirroring our place in the web of life so that we can trace our way back to realignment and cultivate vibrant health. 


The seasons of the year are divided into Yin and Yang, with autumn and winter embodying the energies of Yin, while spring and summer embody the energies of Yang. Summer belongs to the element of Fire, which is currently at its peak and represents the peak of Yang energy, associated with qualities that are more masculine, bright, warm, expansive, and action oriented. Summer also corresponds to the Heart organ-meridian system, which coordinates all physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual activity. By making these connections, we can understand both the kindling that helps cultivate Fire and the qualities of its highest expression – joy, love, enthusiasm, vitality, compassion, generosity, wisdom, and courage. Thus, the qualities that feeds fire are also indicative of its health and balance. 


As always in TCM, the ultimate goal is balance – harmony within and in relation to the world around us… and these threads of connection have long been woven into the Chinese medicinal cosmology. For example, Shen or “spirit” is housed in the Heart, reflecting the higher consciousness of human beings and the presence of the divine within each of us. When the Heart is balanced, sleep is replenishing and one is well-rested – yes, even during the most exciting, fiery, Yang time of year! Shen is impacted when the Heart becomes imbalanced either through excess or deficient Fire. Excess can express as anxiety, irritability, restlessness, palpitations, constipation, excessive thirst, and dryness. Conversely, deficiency can express as fatigue, depression, lack of motivation, disconnection, and low libido.


In the center of The Five Elements is Earth, which embodies the energy of balance. Whether you seek help in stoking that Fire to meet the vibrancy of summer or in taming the flames, tonic herbs of the Earth can be greatly supportive for your individual needs. 


Excess Fire

Our Shen blend is a great ally for those experiencing excess Fire, featuring extracts of Reishi, Jujube Seed, White Peony Root, Asparagus Root, Polygala Root, and Albizia Bark. Formulated specifically to bring well-rounded support in calming the mind, uplifting the spirit, and nourishing our heart centers, it promotes good sleep and a healthy capacity for introspection. 


Pearl powder is a wonderfully cooling and Yin-nourishing herb that tonifies Shen, helping to prevent burnout, calm heart palpitations, and soften the burn of anger. It also floods the body with bioavailable minerals that promote true hydration and restorative sleep cycles, specifically indicated for those dealing with insomnia. Pearl helps facilitate the release of nervousness, tension, irritability, and anxious tendencies. 


Deficient Fire

Eleuthero is a superior choice for fatigue and mild depression linked to fire deficiency, with warming and reinvigorating properties. As a beloved adaptogen specifically indicated for recovery, both from illness and extreme mental or physical exertion, it helps minimize the cascade of stress hormones and fortifies us with renewed energy. It also has an affinity for the Heart, tonifies Qi, and has immunomodulating properties. 


Pine Pollen is a warming Yang tonic herb that also tonifies Shen (in addition to Qi and Jing), rendering it a very well-balanced option for the summer season in general. It facilitates deep, nurturing rejuvenation through its incredible nutrient density. Pine Pollen supports stable energy, aids in recovery from stress-induced burnout, supports cognitive function, enhances immunity, and can minimize the felt sense of stress.


Vibrant health is ours to reclaim, but it need not be defined as a destination; it is really a way to live – an ongoing process of tending and rebalancing that we continuously encourage by attuning to our fundamental and evolving needs. As Samantha Story shared in a past interview, summer is the time to allow the Heart to teach us about our passions, and the germination of winter combined with the will of the Kidneys will allow for a blooming come springtime.