Great Heat – Dà Shǔ 大暑
In ancient China, 24 solar terms, or Jiéqì, existed to guide farmers in agricultural affairs and farming activities throughout the year—each of these periods lasting approximately 15 days. The Jiéqì are based on the sun’s position in the zodiac and reflect changes in climate, agricultural production, natural phenomena and other aspects of living. This is often referred to as the farmer’s calendar.
On July 22nd, we entered the period of Dàshǔ 大暑, also known as ‘Great or Major Heat’. Dàshǔ is the twelfth solar term and the last node of summer. It occurs annually on July 22nd and marks the hottest time of the year in most parts of China. Dàshǔ is the period in which crops grow most rapidly, fireflies appear, the soil becomes more humid and heavy thunderstorms arrive. Despite a brief respite from the season’s most sweltering weather, the end of July saw a wave of extreme heat and record-high temperatures.
With our bodies existing as a microcosm of the outside world, summer (the Fire element) is represented within the human body as the Heart—the Emperor. Within Chinese medicine, therefore, Dàshǔ is a time for “Clearing” (清 Qing): clearing heat from the body and clearing the Heart—heat injures the ‘Heart Qi‘. In addition to removing heat, it is vital to nourish the Heart to achieve an optimal mind-body balance, clearing excesses such as dampness and stagnation from the body.
The folk customs of Dàshǔ are primarily shown within one’s eating habits. It is recommended that one consume foods with a cold nature to relieve the summer heat. For example, there is a saying in the southeastern part of Guangdong that “Eating Xiancao (grass jelly) in June and during Dàshǔ promotes a life as youthful and energetic as the immortals.”
Tips for Dàshǔ:
- Eat light. Avoid heavy meals and spicy/oily foods.
- Avoid cold and raw foods, as these will further damage the body’s Qi.
- Make sure to hydrate appropriately by drinking lots of water.
Recommended Foods for Clearing Heat:
- Alfalfa, Apple, Asparagus, Aubergine
- Bamboo Shoot, Banana, Barley, Broccoli
- Cabbage, Celery, Chard, Chinese Cabbage, Clam, Cucumber
- Egg White, Elderflower
- Lemon, Lettuce
- Millet, Mint, Mung Bean, Mung Beansprout
- Pear, Peppermint, Persimmon, Potato
- Salt, Seaweed, Spirulina
- Tofu, Tomato
- Watermelon, Wheat
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