Essential Oils for Five Element Personality Types - Balancing the Fire Archetype

Salvador Cefalu, M.S., L.Ac. & Setareh Moafi, PhD, L.Ac.

The Fire element relates to Summer and is the most Yang energy of all the elements in Chinese Medicine, so managing heat is key to keeping the associated organs healthy and functioning optimally.

Fire is associated with the Heart and Small Intestine organ systems. Fire energy is about control, both in terms of its relationship to the Heart as emperor of all the organs via its function of controlling blood circulation, as well as metaphorically in terms of the need to have control.

This is why Heart Fire with accompanying symptoms of anxiety and insomnia can result when we feel the need to control or feel out of control in some aspect of our lives.

Since the Heart system in Chinese Medicine is most closely related to the Shen, or spirit, Fire type personalities can be very animated.

Each of the Five Elements have associated personality types which can be broken up into Yin and Yang archetypes.

The Yang Fire Archetype

Yang Fire types tend to have an extremely unpredictable personality and can be the most manic-depressive of all elemental types. One moment they can be the life of the party, filled with joy and excitement, and the next moment they can find themselves in deep despair as they explore the full spectrum and drama of human emotion.

Since Fire radiates and is Yang by nature, it’s no wonder that Yang Fire types can fill an entire room with their lightness and joy when feeling great and in the same way drain all the energy out of a room when they’re feeling down.

Yang Fire types are artistic, passionate, seductive, and easily attract attention. They can be wonderfully successful in the performing arts. These archetypes feel best when they can enthusiastically pursue their passions in life and often prefer to work for a cause they deeply care about. 

Yang Fire personalities tend to have a sharp intellect, incredible memory and will work tirelessly often until burnout. These individuals tend to easily develop addictions to coffee, drugs and alcohol, and are prone to heart rhythm disturbances, hypertension, angina, heart attacks, insomnia, manic depression, and anxiety. Their intense nature also makes them prone to intestinal problems such as Irritable Bowel and Crohn’s disease, which relate to the Small Intestine aspect of the Fire Element.

Essential Oils to Balance the Yang Fire Archetype

The focus to balance the Yang Fire archetype is to cool the blood in order to calm the heart and nervous system.

This can be supported with essential oils such as Lemon Verbena, Sweet Marjoram, Neroli, Melissa (Lemon Balm), Spikenard and Valerian.

The Yin Fire Archetype

In contrast to the expressive, extroverted Yang Fire personality, the Yin Fire type personality tends to be more introverted and may even be quite shy. 

Though the Yin Fire archetype is more prone to a negative and pessimistic outlook on life, she can nonetheless be very committed, passionate and often quite patient in striving toward her life aspirations.

Physically, the Yin Fire type tends to have a weak heart and slow blood circulation.

Since according to Chinese Medicine the Heart relates to mental and emotional vitality, the Yin Fire archetype tends to have a restless mind and emotional fragility, and this unsettled state of mind can easily lead to insomnia and anxiety. 

Essential Oils to Balance the Yin Fire Archetype

Sandalwood and Frankincense are excellent essential oils to counter the health imbalances that tend to develop for Yin Fire archetypes. Sandalwood and Frankincense calm the mind and relax the diaphragm to improve deep breathing and strengthen the heart for improved blood circulation. Both of these oils are excellent for anxiety, insomnia and invigorating blood circulation throughout the entire body.

Sage and Ylang Ylang are nourishing essential oils for what is called Yin Deficiency with Empty Fire. This pattern translates as a hormonal weakness that creates the common symptoms of menopausal hot flashes, anxiety, insomnia and night sweating. Ylang Ylang is especially good for those anxiety patterns that also exhibit depression concurrently.

Ylang Ylang essential oil is distilled from the flowers and we all know how flowers can brighten up your day! Same idea applies to other flower essential oils such as Rose and Geranium which can also be used for Yin deficiency Fire patterns causing anxiety and depression as well. In fact, Ylang Ylang, Rose and Geranium essential oils are each appropriate for helping balance both Yin and Yang Fire archetype patterns.

It is important to note that Sage is an estrogenic oil and contains a chemical called thujone which can be irritating to the nervous system so it requires caution in its use and best with professional guidance. Sage is however relatively safe when diluted as a topical agent and a very important and unique oil with two contrasting actions as it is nourishing to the hormonal system while supporting detoxification of phlegm stasis in the body. In general, Clary Sage is a safer alternative in terms of Sage oils if there is a history of neurological problems.

Clary Sage also helps reduce Yin deficiency heat patterns which may involve menopausal symptoms as well. Symptoms such as feeling overly nervous and anxious have been found to improve as Clary Sage can help reduce cortisol levels through inhalation. Since it calms and relaxes the nervous system, Clary Sage can also reduce blood pressure so it is beneficial for hypertension, but may be too strong if someone has low blood pressure. For these reasons, it is always best to blend essential oils into a formula to balance out qualities and actions of each essential oil so your specific needs are properly supported.

Clary Sage is also an important oil to reduce depression, especially if it is related to a Yin deficiency heat problem that has exhausted the Qi which can occur with over-exercising, over-work, general burn-out syndrome and postpartum situations as well.

Remember, essential oils are chemical agents that resonate with the body’s deepest energetic level of Jing Essence and therefore can impact the body and mind in powerful ways to alter the most serious of conditions. When used wisely they can be a wonderful aide for your healing in body, mind and spirit.

*Please note these recommendations are for educational purposes only and we suggest consulting a professional healthcare clinician trained in essential oil therapy for your specific needs.


Salvador Cefalu, L.Ac. is the Founder & Co-Director of A Center for Natural Healing in Santa Clara, California, a health and wellness clinic run by he and his wife, Setareh Moafi, L.Ac. that specializes in Classical Chinese Medicine. Salvador is a leading U.S. practitioner of Japanese Meridian Therapy, a rare form of non-insertion Acupuncture using Gold & Silver needles. More information at www.acenterfornaturalhealing.com.

Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac. is Co-Owner and Director of A Center for Natural Healing in Santa Clara, California, a health and wellness clinic that specializes in Classical Chinese Medicine and Traditional Japanese Acupuncture. Setareh offers clinical services and transformational workshops that blend the ancient practices of Classical Chinese Medicine and Yoga. More information at www.setarehmoafi.com and www.acenterfornaturalhealing.com.

Is Fire Accelerating Your Aging? A Look at How Heat is Impacting Your Body and Mind

by Salvador Cefalu, M.S., L.Ac.

With Summer upon us, the energy of the Fire element is quickly heating up.

Fire energy relates to the Heart and cardiovascular system so it's important to know how to protect these systems from excessive Fire. Excessive Fire energy causes inflammation and when chronic or lingering for a long time, can particularly damage areas in which it occurs.

Fire is created not only from the sun's radiation but also via electromagnetic radiation from electronic equipment which most of us are exposed to daily in the form of Wifi signals, electrical power lines throughout our homes, cell phones and a host of other sources. The Fire energy of radiation in any form leads to oxidative stress which creates degeneration on the cellular level.

To be clear, oxidation is a natural part of physiological function. Problems occur when oxidative stress is too great for the body to manage leading to the accelerated breakdown of cellular structures on all levels and thus premature aging.

 

Fire Energy and Pathology

In Chinese Medicine, the primary organ of Fire energy is the Heart which relates to the mind and our desires. 

In today's modern society, mental and visual overstimulation tend to create excess Fire energy in the Heart, which can be at the root of many cases of nervousness and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). With today's common problem of screen addiction, it's not surprising to see more and more children or young adults on medication to manage their ADHD or anxiety.

In addition, since the element of Fire relates to one's desires and passions in life and the emotion of joy, if we are overly driven by these attributes, we may find ourselves with a Heart Fire based emotional problem.

Essentially, any situation that overstimulates the mind or emotions - be it a trauma or too many responsibilities in one's life - may create too much Fire in the Heart and potentially lead to the emotional problems of nervousness, anxiety and in extreme cases mania. These are all indications of Fire out of balance in the body.

Sometimes the Fire energy gets burned out or it can be smothered by an excess of dampness in the body leading to a state called Phlegm Misting the Heart.

In these cases, the person will exhibit a state of indifference and apathy towards life. The weaker the Fire energy in one's life, the more one will tend to be cold, withdrawn and introverted.

On the flip side, the strong Fire type personality is very outgoing and if the Fire energy becomes excessive, it can lead to hyperactivity and even overbearing or obnoxious behavior. This is why some people who have too much Heart Fire can become intense and obnoxious upon drinking too much alcohol or spicy stimulants like coffee.

Stress in general produces Fire in the body and comes in many forms be it physical, emotional or mental. Thus, Fire energy is ubiquitous and a natural part of life. 

What's important for graceful aging is to learn how to manage this powerful energy in your life in order to support a healthy body and mind, and to cultivate feelings of contentment and peace.

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Living Excessively Causes Fire to Flare Up

The body's structure is Yin, which represents substance in the form of skin, flesh, fluids and blood. Yang on the other hand represents function and movement.

Youthfulness is a state of abundant Yin which provides insulation to protect the body from Fire, which is very Yang.

However, as we age, Yin declines and the body becomes more vulnerable to the Fire energy. This appears as drying up of tissues causing wrinkles and other symptoms of dryness.

Any form of inflammation indicates that Yin needs to be supported and Yang Fire needs to be cooled.  

Since function and movement are Yang, one way to prevent excess Fire from building up is to avoid excessive activity, especially during the warmer Summer months.

Young people can better handle activity during the hot weather but as we get older it's important not to overheat ourselves, especially during the warmer parts of the day. It is especially important as we age to not dehydrate ourselves with excessive sweating as well.

Keep in mind, if you are drinking what seems to be sufficient amounts of water but still feel overheated or experiencing signs of dehydration such as a headache or dizziness, try adding some sea salt to your water as the minerals in the sea salt will help you rehydrate quickly.

Another common excess that creates too much Fire is overeating.

Overeating creates oxidative stress on the body especially the overconsumption of 'hot natured' foods like lamb and beef or beverages such as coffee and alcohol.  With this said, Chinese Medicine recommends the decrease consumption of these types of foods during the summer months. Furthermore, sugar creates acid in the body which generates heat. The summer is replete with fresh fruit as it's a way nature provides for hydration during hot weather. Keep in mind, however, that when over consumed, these concentrated sweet foods create damp heat in the body which essentially is a toxic fungal terrain.

Excess Fire burns out your Qi, leading to fatigue.

Oxidative stress damages the mitochondria within the cells. Mitochondria are the cell's powerhouse structures that create energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). As free radicals break down these cellular components, the body's energy production declines.

In Chinese Medicine, we say "heat destroys the Qi" and when we are not producing adequate Qi the body doesn't have sufficient energy to function optimally. Some common signs of Qi Deficiency are lethargy, low immunity, hyper-sensitivity to Wind and Cold, low libido and a weakened digestive system.

 

*Nutritional Supplements Can Help Manage Excessive Fire and Increase Your Energy

Modern nutritional science is making rapid breakthroughs in understanding how to protect and rebuild mitochondria to enhance cellular energy. A number of amino acids have been found for this purpose. 

As suggested previously, when there's too much Yang Fire, we need to support the body with cooling Yin substances. Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are considered Yin substances because they build structure. Many amino acids have also been found to have profound effects in reducing the damage of excessive free-radical activity (Yang Fire).

Considered the mother of all antioxidants, glutathione (GSH) is a peptide made of three amino acids. It is so important that cellular levels of GSH are considered a biomarker of longevity. The problem is that glutathione is not effectively absorbed directly through the digestive tract.  However, since it is manufactured in the body, it can be supported with certain food substances, especially those in the cruciferous vegetable family due to their sulfur amino acid content.

N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) is a precursor to GSH and has interestingly been found to help reduce neurocognitive problems such as bio-polar disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), addictions and even schizophrenia.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid is one of the important antioxidants that's been found to increase GSH levels and to be neuroprotective. Alpha-Lipoic Acid has been used successfully to help prevent neurotoxicity induced by chemotherapy which can lead to symptoms such as peripheral neuropathy, possibly by preventing mitochondrial destruction. 

CoQ10, or in its reduced form Ubiquinol, is especially useful in protecting the cardiovascular system from the Fire of oxidative stress, as well as enhancing mitochondrial function to boost Qi (energy) throughout the body, specifically for the heart muscle. 

Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a compound formed from the amino acid L-Carnitine. Acetyl-L-Carnitine has been found to cross the blood-brain barrier and protect the brain's neurons against oxidative stress. It also supports mitochondrial function systemically and specifically beneficial for strengthening brain function in terms of memory recall. For this reason, Acetyl-L-Carnitine is one of the important supplements being used to support individuals with Alzheimer's.

Astaxanthin is another wonder antioxidant in terms of supporting healthy aging as it has been found to reduce oxidation of the cardiovascular system including the prevention of LDL from oxidizing which leads to atherosclerosis. Astaxanthin also protects mitochondria from free-radical damage which is likely the reason it is known to increase energy and stamina.

Astaxanthin provides important cosmetic benefits as well. Known for its carotenoid content that create the pink pigmentation in flamingos and salmon, Astaxanthin has been found to support skin health through multiple mechanisms. Astaxanthin has potent anti-inflammatory effects through its suppression of inflammatory cytokines which are created in response to the sun's UV radiation. It also directly benefits skin health by supporting the skin's moisture barrier to reduce skin dehydration and by increasing collagen production.

In fact, Astaxanthin has been found to reduce wrinkles, improve skin elasticity and skin texture as well.

PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone). PQQ is one of my favorite new daily supplements as it can activate genes that promote the formation of new mitochondria for increased cellular energy production. Recent studies have shown that 20 mg per day of PQQ has demonstrated the beneficial effects of increased blood flow in the brain and enhanced cognitive function. Trials showed increased mental function after 3 months of daily supplementation with PQQ with increased blood flow to the right prefrontal cortex of the brain involved in higher level cognitive functions.

PQQ also helps reduce neurotoxicity likely through enhancing blood flow, and protects neurons from damage due to excess sugar in the blood which has been attributed to the creation of the tau proteins and amyloid brain plaques associated with dementia and Alzheimer's.

Vinpocetine is the last antioxidant I want to discuss because of its neurological and vascular protection for the brain and heart. This powerful supplement is popular in Europe and has been found to improve cognitive function as well as short and long term memory by supporting the production of ATP, improving cerebral blood flow and glucose uptake in the brain. Vinpocetine also enhances the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline to stabilize mood, decrease depression and increase the sense of pleasure in ones life.

With these benefits we can ascertain that Vinpocetine is best for cases of depression and mental lethargy when Heart Fire needs to be sparked.

 

Taming Your Fire to Support Graceful Longevity

The last point I want to discuss is about how modern society is based on cultivating too much Fire in our life.

As I mentioned earlier, screen addiction is a big problem for most individuals young and old. The more staring we do at our devices, be it the phone, TV or computer screen, the more the Heart gets over-stimulated.

Furthermore, the more active we live, the more Fire energy builds up in the body. Waking up some days it certainly seems we are part of the human race and this race just never seems to end. That's Fire energy and it is very damaging to our health on all levels.

It's true as it's been said that we should try to return to being a human being rather than a human doing.

I like to look at the idea of longevity in terms of quality over quantity. With that said, ask yourself, "Do I feel a sense of contentment with my life?" This is an important question to ponder. You may have a bucket list that seems endless with things you want to do and experience. However, it may be time in your life to try and cultivate less Fire by moving toward calmness and peacefulness to cool down your inner Fire. Perhaps rather than focusing on checking off all those things you want to experience in life, take time each day to be in gratitude for your life as it is.

A simple exercise you can practice is to write down a list of all things in your life for which you're grateful. Doing this will help you be more present in the moment and thus nourish your Yin, helping you cultivate both inner peace and graceful longevity.

*The information in this article is presented for educational purposes only so please ask your healthcare practitioner for guidance in what supplementation may be best for your specific needs.


Salvador Cefalu, M.S., L.Ac. is the Founder & Co-Director of A Center for Natural Healing in Santa Clara, California, a health and wellness clinic run by he and his wife, Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac. that specializes in Classical Chinese Medicine. Salvador is a leading U.S. practitioner of Japanese Meridian Therapy, a rare form of non-insertion Acupuncture using Gold & Silver needles. More information at www.acenterfornaturalhealing.com.