How to Know if Your Fire Element Is Out of Balance

Written by Kate Sciolino, LAc

Summer is officially underway. The sun is shining, and it’s time to be out and about, to visit with friends, go to concerts and parties, to enjoy the warmth and share the fun of this season with others. It is the time of year when the fire element takes center stage, and acupuncture treatments focus on balancing this element.

The fire element is the element of love and all affairs of the heart. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the fire of the heart represents our relationship to ourselves and to others. It governs our ability to share love, warmth and joy with our friends, colleagues, intimate partners, and even enjoy a feeling of oneness with the entire human race. It is the spark inside that allows us to feel loving and inspired in what we do. When the sun is at its highest in the sky, burning the most brightly of the entire year, we are invited to celebrate this same energy of warmth and guiding light inside ourselves.

The best way to understand the fire element is to picture a campfire at the center of a summer barbeque party. When the fire is in balance, it is warm, glowing and inviting. People are drawn to its radiance and gather around it, chatting and laughing with one another, enjoying the pleasure of coming together. This scene displays the virtues of the fire element: joy, charisma, connection, sharing, fun, play, communication and love.

Now picture that campfire once it has started to die out. The once glowing flames become fading embers without a spark. The radiant color is now ashen grey. As the lifeblood of the party diminishes, the guests begin to feel cold, and disperse. This explains what happens if the fire element becomes depleted in a person. Without the spark of the fire element to ignite the heart, one becomes flat, lifeless, isolated, cold, anxious, lonely, and depressed.

Now imagine that same fire blazing out of control. As flames spill over the pit’s boundary, party guests run away to protect themselves. Likewise, a person with an excessive fire element may appear overwhelming and out of control, excessively seeking attention, while laughing loudly and inappropriately, meanwhile, scaring people away. No amount of attention will feed this person, and the imbalanced attempt to experience connection ends up pushing people away.

It’s important to remember that these, and any symptom of an element out of balance, can be shifted with acupuncture so the virtues of the element in balance can be enjoyed. Below are some other ways the fire element shows up, both in and out of balance:

Fire Element In Balance

~Ability to give and receive love

~Ability to communicate clearly and resolve conflicts

~Joy, play, freedom

~Satisfaction with intimacy and relationships


~Clear boundaries

~Clear speech




Fire Element Out of Balance:

~Extreme anxiety or palpitations

~Depression from loss of spark

~Feeling that one’s heart is not at the helm


~Apathy or hopelessness

~Attempts to control self or others

~Lack of boundaries

~Dissatisfaction with intimate relationships

~Flatness, dullness

~Loneliness, isolation

~Inability to be vulnerable or let love into the heart

~Inability to trust appropriately

~Excessive vulnerability, no protection, constant heartbreak


~Skin eruptions

~Blood and circulatory disorders

~Heart disease

~Neck and shoulder pain

~Excessive or deficient sexual energy, sexual dysfunction

If you are experiencing challenges in any of these areas, I encourage you to contact a Five-Element Acupuncturist in your area!

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