This summer, as I write this fourth blog, wildfires rage in Colorado, California, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Nebraska, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii (Maui). Global warming is likely responsible for much of the temperature and weather extremes that led to these fires. A hundred years ago, when the world’s ecology was more in balance, fires begun by lightning strikes were ultimately beneficial to the environment despite their short-term harm to vegetation and animals. Fires burn away dense land-covering, re-open large areas of land to sunlight, and allow the re-emergence of grasslands and young trees. Seeds of some flowers and grasses only germinate when exposed to fire’s high temperatures. Today, closely supervised burning of carefully chosen areas is one way to effectively manage wilderness areas.
With the recent decrease of wooded areas and aquifers, and the construction of homes in or near woodlands, fires have posed an increasingly serious problem for humans. Not only do forest fires reduce the total amount of oxygen available; they also increase the amount of dioxins in the air. In cities and suburbs, destructive fires can be caused by burning leaves, neglected cigarettes, or faulty electrical wiring. Clearing sections of trees from wooded areas to provide fire-breaks and treating indoor and outdoor fires with great care can help with prevention. By keeping increasing numbers of plants in our homes and using air filters, we can partially counteract oxygen loss and air pollution due to fires.
I had the opportunity to experience the threat of forest fires at close range on a visit to Montana and Glacier National Park in 2003, a year of record fires in Glacier. As far away as Missoula, where I spent the first few days of my trip, ash filled the air and turned my white car grey overnight. Because I felt extremely fatigued, achy and feverish, and too ill to treat myself, I made an appointment with a local chiropractor and acupuncturist. She offered me warm water and powdered turmeric (an anti-inflammatory and tonic herb) afterward. Her skillful treatment kept me comfortable and energetic for the rest of my visit.
In Chinese five element theory, summer is the season of the element fire. According to this theory, forest fires or global warming could be represented by one or more pathologically strong elements in the body or Nature, such as fire (fever or inflammation) throwing some or all of the other four elements (earth, metal, water wood) out of balance. Illness or environmental distress can result. A skilled acupuncturist can use fire, the most powerful of the five elements, to help patients heal from illness and stay healthy.
This blog’s tip: mid-June through the end of July is the most powerful time for the element fire. Acupuncture treatments are especially effective during these several weeks. I highly recommend making an appointment during this time, in order to reduce inflammation and to use the strength of the fire element in your body and the environment for accelerated healing.