A solar term is a period of about two weeks and is based on the sun’s position in the zodiac. Solar terms form the traditional Chinese calendar system. The calendar follows the ancient Chinese belief that living in accordance with nature will enable one to live a harmonious life. This article series explores each of the year’s 24 solar terms, offering guidance on how to best navigate the season.
Solar Term: ‘Major Heat’ – 2021 Date: July 22 to Aug. 6
“Major Heat” is the last solar term of summer, often accompanied by heavy rain, floods, and thunder.
The ancient Chinese saw summer as the peak of one’s life, but it precipitates the decline in the same way that summer soon cools into autumn with winter following. So as it is in life, so goes the year, and summer is the middle age of seasons.
Knowing the solar terms allows one to live in harmony with the ways of nature. As all things have a season and a rhythm, living in harmony with this basic truth of the world is also beneficial for our health.
It’s also a unique time, called San-Fu-Tian, according to traditional Chinese medicine, to purge winter diseases from the body. This year, the ideal period for this is between July 12 and Aug. 21. This also is the time to start building health reserves for the cooler months ahead.
Impact on People
There is an old Chinese saying, “The best time to fix winter diseases is summer, and the best time to treat summer diseases is winter.” Winter diseases are like extremely cold ice present inside our bodies; if we want to melt them away, we need to find a time when both the environment and our bodies are hot. Major Heat is such a time.
The top Chinese doctors work with nature to treat diseases, and so can we, as individuals. We can help our bodies to recover from our old problems and prepare to transition into a safe winter if we take care of our bodies well.
Living in Harmony With the Season
Although it might be hard starting out, or a major change for some people, our bodies will appreciate it in the long run if we can avoid eating cold foods. Cold for this purpose means colder than our bodies’ temperature. Especially food colder than room temperature should be avoided.
Our digestive system is a fire of sorts. This is why we used to burn food to see how much it could heat water to calculate the energy our body would derive from eating it. This process of determining the calories contained in a given food was refined as food regulators required that manufacturers provide more specific nutritional information, but the essential practice holds.
This is one reason not to eat cold foods. Doing so can affect the digestive process and unsettle the balance of cold and heat in the body.
It is also good to avoid being caught out in or soaked by the rain. And it’s good to have your belly covered if you find yourself in an air-conditioned room. For those feeling hot, you may massage the back of your neck to reduce the feeling of heat. Anyone (even those not feeling hot) can massage the zusanli acupoint on the outer boundary of your shin bone, four finger widths down from the bottom of your knee cap.
The famous Tang Dynasty doctor, Sun Si Miao, lived to be more than 140 years old. He said the zusanli acupoint helps to strengthen one’s health and avoid disease. It is one of the foremost acupoints for longevity and helps to improve digestion, activate blood circulation, and repel humidity inside one’s body, according to ancient Chinese medicinal theory.
Foods to Eat: Eel, pineapple, pumpkin, mango, lamb, potato, yam, sweet potato, cumin, and pepper.
Those who have excess body heat can eat tomato, eggplant, peach, and green beans.