Conscious Beauty and Well-Being: Caring for the Body During ‘Major Cold’

Exploring Solar Term 1 of 24: Major Cold
January 27, 2017 Updated: January 29, 2017

In most places around the world, Major Cold begins when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 300 degrees and ends when it reaches the longitude of 315 degrees. It is often the time when the earth is frozen to its deepest level. This year, Major Cold began on Jan. 20 and will end on Feb. 2.

This time is critical for agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and animal husbandry. In most cases, insects and bacteria will die out almost completely when the temperature drops to its lowest point, and when spring comes, pest problems will be minimal.

Ancient Chinese people, especially royalty, would traditionally cut and store ice during this period, to use for cooling drinks in the summer heat.

The old Chinese people said that on the day of Major Cold, if the wind comes from the north and it’s cold, there will be a fruitful harvest in the coming year; if the wind comes from the south and is warm, the crop in the coming year will be poor. If it’s not a cold day, cold weather will last into the spring and have a negative impact on spring planting. The best scenario is that the day is fairly cold, but without rain or snow.

Major Cold is the starting time for hens to incubate eggs so they are ready to hatch when the weather is warmer. Ancient Chinese people, especially royalty, would traditionally cut and store ice during this period, to use for cooling drinks in the summer heat.

There are three major parts of our bodies that should be kept warm during Major Cold: the respiratory system, neck and spine, and feet. Here are some helpful tips to achieve this:

(Image Point Fr/Shutterstock)
(Image Point Fr/Shutterstock)

1. Respiratory System: When you’re outside, keep both the nose and chest toasty by wearing layers of warm clothing and a scarf.

For care indoors, prepare a large bowl of very warm water, a bath towel, and essential oils of eucalyptus, niaouli, or thyme. Add five drops of essential oil to the water. Hold your face over the bowl, and cover your head and the bowl with the towel. Inhale the steam for a few minutes.


2. Neck and Spine: Wear a scarf and take care always to cover the spine and lower back well. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, the midvertebrae are open around this time and may allow coldness into the body easily.

To bring heat back to the area, apply a heating pad or hot water bottle. For an at-home spa treatment, heat rocks with a slow cooker, then cover them with cloth or insert them into a small cushion and rest your neck or lower back on them.

(Bob Nelson/Unsplash)
(Bob Nelson/Unsplash)

3. Feet: Wear boots and always keep the feet warm. This is especially important for the elderly. TCM theory suggests that if one’s feet are aging, their health condition is declining rapidly.

Before sleep, prepare a foot bath with very warm water. To boost the effects, add fresh ginger, freshly ground cinnamon, or black peppercorns to the water. Then place two golf balls in the water, and press the bottoms of the feet firmly onto the balls, concentrating on the center of each foot. This assists with good quality sleep and keeps the body warm at night.

Recommended Food and Drink


The food we eat during the Major Cold period can either enhance our resilience or work against us. Here are some foods that will keep the body weather-ready.

Food: Lamb, duck, fennel, black bean, mushroom, sesame, walnut, chestnut, yam. Congee (rice soup) with ginger, and chopped fennel stir-fried with eggs and roasted sesame oils, are the best foods for breakfast during Major Cold.

Spices: Anise, fennel seed, cumin, oregano, nutmeg, cinnamon. Use these warming spices in powder or essential oil form as often as possible in cooked foods or tea.

Drink: Goji berries with red jujube tea is great for boosting and protecting skin during this time. Try it with raw sugar or honey for added flavor.

Traditionally, it is also best to have plenty of sleep and rest during the cold period. Restrain sexual activities to preserve the yang energies of the body for growth in spring.

Here’s to keeping you in best health for the whole year!

The 24 solar terms make up a calendar system invented by the ancient Chinese over 2,000 years ago. This article series delves into each of the solar terms that occur throughout the year, offering practical advice and wisdom for navigating each one.

Epoch Times contributor Moreen Liao is a certified aromatherapist; former dean of the New Directions Institute of Natural Therapies in Sydney, Australia; group vice president of New Directions Australia; and founder of Ausganica, one of Australia’s leading makers of certified organic skincare and cosmetics. Visit