Summer – Heart/Small Intestine and Pericardium/Triple Warmer

Summer’s Fire Element is very complicated because it has 2 sets of yin/yang meridians associated with it. The dance that these meridians do with each other and with the other meridians in the body make for an intricate and complex relationship of balance, far too detailed for this article except as an overview. In summer, the energy, according to the Chinese, relates to the Heart (Yin) and the Small Intestine (Yang) meridians. There is also the secondary relationship to the Pericardium (Yin) and Triple Warmer (Yang). The color of the fire element is red, the season’s emotions are joy and sadness, the sound is laughter and its taste is bitter. Summer is the time of blossoming, growth and heat.

The heart dominates the blood and vessels and manifests on the face. It also houses the mind. The function of the heart is to circulate blood to the body. The small intestines transform food matter, separating the pure from the unpure. The pericardium takes care of protecting the heart and the triple warmer balances various forms of energy (qi), including the harmony of hormonal function. Together these four meridians are in charge of the processing, storage, and distribution of vital energy and therefore the maintenance of life.

There are many physical symptoms that the fire element, when imbalanced, can exhibit. The Yin meridian symptoms are obvious as they are heart related – i.e. cardiac disease, circulatory disease, arrhythmias, heart palpitations, poor circulation, fatigue, confusion. There are some good essential oils that deal with heart related issues. Heart stimulating essential oils are angelica, anise and rosemary. For palpitations or fluttering of the heart the essential oils to use are lavender, melissa, neroli, chamomile, peppermint, rose and ylang ylang. One of the best oils for the heart is hyssop. Hyssop is an excellent aid in regulating blood pressure. Considered a heart tonic, when the blood pressure is too low, it balances it and when high, it can decrease it. Hyssop strengthens the heart both physically and emotionally. But because of its effect on the heart, the essential oil should not be used by anyone suffering from epilepsy, nor should it be used during pregnancy.

Likewise the yang meridian, the small intestine, has symptoms that can be addressed by essential oils. Irritable bowel syndrome can be soothed with lavender, tea tree, chamomile, eucalyptus or peppermint. Constipation can be eased with black pepper, fennel, ginger, rosemary, thyme or rose. Diarrhea can be alleviated with black pepper, clove, ginger, geranium, lavender, neroli, rosemary or peppermint, as can indigestion.

The taste of the fire element is bitter. This is a strange notion to Westerners, but how a food tastes or its action on the tongue can help the body aligned to the specific elemental season more easily. Bitter stimulates appetite and secretion of digestive juices throughout the gastro-intestinal system and enhances digestion and flow of bile. Essential oils that can do a similar support to the digestive tract would be anise, basil, black pepper, cardamom, fennel, marjoram, melissa and rosemary. It’s interesting that all the basic digestive oils are herbs that are found regularly in our gardens. We have all we need in the summer to keep our fire element happy!

Other physical imbalanced symptoms of the fire element might include light headedness (oils to assist would include bergamot, lavender, peppermint, melissa, and rosemary); shoulder discomfort or poor muscle tone (chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, and black pepper); and dry hair and skin (chamomile, frankincense, geranium, lavender and tea tree); mouth ulcers (fennel, clove, lemon, myrrh and tea tree), or pimples (tea tree, rose, peppermint, lavender, helichrysum, geranium and cedarwood).

The emotional components of summer’s meridians can also be supported by essential oils. The sound of the fire element is laughter. Joy and laughter are part of the summer fun and when we are out in the sun, enjoying outdoor activities, we feel more alive and balanced. When these emotions are absent, we could be imbalanced in the fire element. Oils that can help rebalance us back into joy are basil, clary sage, lavender, melissa, patchouli, neroli, rose, ylang ylang, jasmine and geranium. Fire is also associated with providing heat and warmth, but when it is in excess we can feel burnt out and exhausted. Oils that bring back vitality and strength are basil, cardamom, rosemary, peppermint, and black pepper. Enthusiasm and creativity are also positive fire attributes, but when out of balance can bring about aggression, impatience and impulsive behavior. Oils to restore the natural sense of harmony and ease are neroli, rose, ylang ylang, lavender, melissa, grapefruit, frankincense, sandalwood, elemi, angelica and vetiver.

Summer can be a care-free time of year, especially if we keep the fire element balanced and supported. Enjoy this season to the fullest, living in joy and laughter!

Below are the heart, small intestine, pericardium and triple heater meridians, in that order:

  1. Heart
  2. Small Intestine
  3. Pericardium
  4. Tripe Heater