What to Eat During Spring According to Chinese Medicine

March 13, 2017 Updated: March 13, 2017

A solar term is a period of approximately two weeks based on the sun’s position in the zodiac. There are 24 solar terms in a year, which make up the traditional Chinese calendar system used to guide farming and everyday life. The calendar contributes to the ancient Chinese philosophy that living in accordance with nature will enable one to live a harmonious life. This article series delves into each solar term and offers guidance on how to navigate through the seasons in order to live happier and healthier.


Solar term: Insects Awaken (jing zhe)

2017 Dates: March 5 to 19

Characteristics and Meaning: During the solar term “Insects Awaken,” thunder begins and hibernating insects wake up. In Chinese legend, thunder comes from the god Pangu, the creator of human beings. After he created the space between heaven and earth, his breath turned into wind, his voice into thunder, and his sweat into rain.

In traditional Chinese medicine, spring is the season to detox.

During the winter, legend says, the thunder hibernates inside the earth. When spring comes, farmers digging the fields wake up the thunder, which escapes hibernation and helps to break the ground. The loud noise also wakes up the insects; hence the term “Insects Awaken.”

At this time, the insects are actively moving under the earth, which helps prepare the land for farming. All farming commences from this time of year.

Underground insects aren’t the only ones to awaken—all bugs and even microbes are starting to move around. This includes airborne insects like bees and butterflies, as well as bacteria and tiny lifeforms invisible to the naked eye. Bacteria start to repopulate after the humidity built up from the previous solar term, “Rain Water.”

Impact on Health: Those who have weak respiratory systems or allergies to pollen, or who suffer from skin diseases, often feel uncomfortable around this time due to changes in temperature and humidity.

Living in Harmony With the Season: In traditional Chinese medicine, spring is the season to detox. During this season, the Chinese recommend avoiding red meat, cutting out alcohol, and reducing sugar intake, as these all cause “heat” in the body, leading to inflammation. According to the five elements theory, the color red belongs to the element fire. Red meat should be avoided at this time because it may worsen the symptoms of skin allergies, which is very common problem for spring. Alcohol speeds up inflammation inside our body, which may cause irritation and disease. Sugar is one step away from alcohol, so having less sugar is good during this term, especially for those who easily get the flu or cough in spring.

(Suzi Pratt/Shutterstock)
Asian stuffed steamed dumplings (Suzi Pratt/Shutterstock)

Cooking Method: Steaming and boiling are the best cooking methods for this term, as foods cooked with these methods are less stimulating or irritating to the body. In general, avoid deep-fried food at this time as they add heat. Salads with vinaigrette dressings are perfect for cleansing the blood and trimming down extra fat from winter.

Foods to Eat: Tomato, bergamot, bitter melon, green beans, pumpkin, carrot, radish, canola flower, asparagus

Herbs: Celery, peppermint, daisy, plantain, yarrow

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 Ausganica.com