Traditional Wisdom

Humility and Modesty Help the Body Adjust to Heat

Exploring Solar Terms: Grain Buds (May 21 to June 5)
BY Moreen Liao TIMEMay 18, 2022 PRINT

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 solar term, offering guidance on how to best navigate the season.

Solar Term: ‘Grain Buds’

2022 Dates: May 21 to June 5

Looking at the natural world, we see that the grains of summer crops are becoming plump, but aren’t yet ripe. As we prepare to enjoy the fruits of our labor, yang is at the extreme on earth and in our bodies, so we must also take care to protect ourselves from the potential negative impacts of this extreme state.

This solar term’s name, “Grain Buds,” is “xiao man” in Chinese. The meaning of “xiao” is a little bit, while “man” can mean replenishing, full, or contented. Contented can refer to the feeling farmers have after seeing their hard work about to come to fruition. Another meaning is fullness, which refers more directly to the crop.

Shennong, one of the three sage rulers of ancient China, was born during Grain Buds, which this year falls on May 21 through June 5.

Shennong was believed to be an overseer of harvests and medicinal herbs. In fact, he left to history the first medicinal herb book, “Shennong’s Root and Herbal Classic.”

From this book, we learn that the best time to pick and process herbs is Grain Buds. The ancient Chinese used to make herbal teas and ointments during this time of year.

Watch That Yang Heat

In the Chinese spiritual text “Bagua” (The Eight Trigrams), Grain Buds is purely yang in all six of its trigrams. This reflects that yang is at its zenith and yin is extinguished.

For our health, we are reminded to be careful with our heart, blood vessels, and skin, as they can easily be damaged at this time.

In the Taoist system, it’s believed there is both yin and yang in our bodies, regardless of whether we are male or female. Good health is said to come from the balance of yin and yang.

When yang becomes stronger than yin, traditional Chinese medicine doctors regard this person as having “heat” in the body. When yang is far stronger than yin, one is said to have “fire” in the body.

These heat-related conditions are very common during this solar term, leading to skin problems such as dryness and skin irritation.

Living in Harmony With ‘Grain Buds’

Going to bed late and getting up early help our body adjust to the temperature more easily during this season. So can humility and modesty in temperament, as well as meditation and gentle exercise. A lot of herbal tea can also help.

For those who have skin irritation, one can make an herbal tea with chamomile, peppermint, comfrey, witch hazel, melon, or peppermint. Soak a clean hand towel in a tea made from these ingredients and place it in a sealed container in the freezer. Whenever you feel itchy skin, use the cold cloth to cool and cleanse it.

Those who are in their first three months of pregnancy need to be careful of getting skin disease, as this may weaken the immune system for both mom and baby.

Seasonal Foods

Artichoke, broccoli, celery, tomato, water chestnut, yam, and all bitter vegetables are good to eat, to bring balance.

Starfruit, lemon, lime, melons, and all citrus fruits are good.

For those suffering from skin problems, do not eat seafood, especially shellfish.

Honeysuckle and patchouli can be helpful.

Moreen Liao
Epoch Times contributor Moreen Liao is a descendant of four generations of traditional Chinese medicine doctors. She’s also a certified aromatherapist, former dean of an Institute in Sydney, and the founder of Heritage Formulations, a complete solution for TCM professionals. Visit for details.
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