Extinguishing the “Fire” in the Body
There is "fire" (excessive internal heat) in one's body. To some extent, the fire is necessary; however, when there is too much, he/she will feel uncomfortable and develop symptoms, such as red skin, swelling, pain and agitation.
Sometimes, when there is too much fire in the body, it doesn't matter how much water you drink, how many vegetables you eat or how much "fire-releasing medicine" you take. In fact, taking medicine, without applying preventive measures, will help you feel better, but, if you want to extinguish the fire, you should expel it from your body.
What Is 'Fire?'
Chinese herbalists believe the greatest sum of "evil fire" (fire beyond what one can endure) is created within the body.More specifically, the fire results from the imbalance of yin and yang (the ancient Chinese philosophy based on the idea that everything in the universe is formed and influenced by the combination of two opposing forces called yin and yang) in the body.
Symptoms vary, depending on the type and cause of fire; for example, stomach fire may cause a stomachache and constipation, lung fire may cause cough and yellow phlegm; while liver fire may cause fidgeting and insomnia, and women may have aches in their breasts.
Types of Fire
The main symptom of external fire is heatstroke, which generally occurs — when the body's temperature rises — due to lack of water and long exposure to high temperatures.
Generally speaking, a person experiences more internal fire than external fire because he/she feels more intense pressure, tends to stay up late and eats too many spicy foods.
There are many types of fire, from false fire and true fire to liver fire and lung fire. Some Chinese medicine can help extinguish fire, such as rhubarb, Chinese goldthread, corktree, weeping forsythia, and honeysuckle.
Acupuncture, cupping therapy, massage and kneading are suitable treatments for excessive fire.
The earliest written account of cupping therapy is Elbow Rear (Jin Dynasty 281-361) by Ge Hong. With this method, small cups cling to a person's body after the air is removed — with heat — from each cup. As the cups cling to the body, a negative pressure is created, which causes blood stasis.
This will help warm and stimulate the skin. That stimulation can cause blood vessels to expand, which will promote blood circulation and metabolism. It will also increase discharges of bodily wastes and toxins.
Lin Lu, a tour guide, knows firsthand about the benefits of cupping therapy: One summer, when she visited Xishuangbanna, in Yunnan Province, she experienced climate sickness. She had a fever, headache and sore muscles. At one point, she was too weak to walk. She went to an herbalist and received cupping therapy. She was relaxed after the treatment and, after a short rest, she resumed the trip.
Gua sha, a treatment for sunstroke that involves the scraping of the patient's neck, chest and/or back, dates back more than 2,000 years. Sha means blood stasis, and once blood circulation is obstructed, illnesses are sure to follow. Gua sha can help excrete noxious waste and dissipate blood stasis.
The therapy uses acupuncture points and exerts influence on different reflex sections of the body. The treatment of channels and collaterals in the waist will strengthen the kidneys, while treatment of the channels in the upper back will strengthen the heart and lungs.
In daily life, we should strike a proper balance between work and rest, and we should eat more vegetables and fruit that are rich in vitamins. We should also drink more water. We should eat fewer spicy foods, avoid smoking and drink less wine. Fire is closely related to one's mental health. Therefore, an optimistic outlook may be the best fire extinguisher.