White Dew – Báilù 白露
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 September 8th, we entered the period of Báilù, also known as ‘White Dew’. Báilù is the fifteenth solar term, which occurs annually around September 8th. Báilù indicates the true beginning of autumn. The temperature gradually declines and the increased moisture in the air forms into dew on the grass and trees at night. While sunshine may still allow for the days to be warm, temperatures are likely to decrease rapidly after sunset. However, don’t be fooled! Because Autumn relates to the Metal element and Dryness within five-element Chinese medicine, the lungs and sinuses can easily become dry following Báilù, particularly as the temperature is declining. As a result, White Dew is a season in which people may be more prone to sinus issues, asthma, bronchitis, and other lung and skin conditions.
White Dew season comes right when grapes become widely available. Eating grapes in the autumn is said to help expel toxins and dispel pathogenic internal heat. In addition, many Chinese believe that the humble sweet potato is a powerful food to consume during the period of White Dew. In ancient times, peasants would traditionally eat sweet potatoes on the first day of White Dew. According to Chinese medicine, the sweet potato can nourish the spleen and the Earth element and is said to prolong life and reduce the risk of disease. Too much seafood or cold, spicy, or greasy food may not be good for one’s health.
With our bodies existing as a microcosm of the world surrounding us, health care should focus on following nature’s progression. As the period of White Dew begins, we must acknowledge the gradual decline of yang qi and an inevitable inward movement towards yin, home, the interior, internal reflection and the stillness of Winter.
Here we have advice on how to live in harmony with the movement of autumn and the Metal element. In order to remain in harmony with the four seasons and the five elements, we recommend seasonal treatments to maintain this sense of balance as we transition through the year.
“The three months of autumn,
they denote taking in and balance.
The qi of heaven becomes tense.
The qi of the earth becomes bright.
Go to rest early and rise early,
get up together with the chicken.
Let the mind be peaceful and tranquil, so as
to temper the punishment carried out in autumn.
Collect the spirit qi and
cause the autumn qi to be balanced.
Do not direct your mind to the outside and
cause the lung qi to be clear.
This is correspondence with the qi of autumn and
it is the Way to nourish gathering.
Opposing it harms the lung.
In winter this causes outflow of [undigested] food andthere is little to support storage.”
Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen (Chapter 2)
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