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.
Characteristics and Meaning
The grains of summer crops are becoming plump, but are not yet ripe.
In the ancient Chinese text “Bagua” (The Eight Trigrams), a book that helps one read the seasons and changes in life or society, the corresponding Ba-gua for this solar term is Qian, which represents full Yang energy. “Grain Buds” (May 20 to June 4) is described as pure yang in all six of its trigrams.
This reflects that yang is at its zenith and yin is extinguished during this solar term.
Grain Buds is traditionally the preferred time to harvest herbal medicine because the plant has reached prime condition for nutrients. When the heavy rain comes afterward, it will thin down the active ingredients inside the herbs.
Impact on People
As we prepare to enjoy the fruits of our labor, yang energy 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.
Another translation of this solar term’s name, “Grain Getting Plenish,” 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. So “xiao man” can mean getting a little bit content or full.
Shennong, one of the three sage rulers of ancient China, was born during Grain Buds, which this year falls on May 20 through June 4.
Shennong was believed to be an overseer of harvests and medicinal herbs. He also taught the people in his time about farming, tea, and herbal medicine. In fact, he left to history the first medicinal herb book, “Shennong’s Root and Herbal Classic.” This book is believed to be the earliest herbal medicine text in Chinese history, earlier than B.C. 2070.
It is from this book that we learn Grain Buds is the best time to pick and process herbs. The ancient Chinese used to make herbal teas and ointments during this time of year.
Usually the weather is humid and may rain very heavily during Grain Buds. This can make us feel extremely hot and lead us to easily retain humidity inside our bodies.
In the Taoist system, it is 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.
Heat-related conditions are very common during this solar term, leading to skin problems such as dryness and skin irritation.
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.
Going to bed late and getting up early can help our body to adjust to the temperature more easily during this season. Humility and modesty in temperament, meditation, and gentle exercise, and 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.
Foods to Eat
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.
Epoch Times contributor Moreen Liao is a descendant of four generations of traditional Chinese medicine doctors. She is also a certified aromatherapist, former dean of the New Directions Institute of Natural Therapies in Sydney, Australia, and the founder of Ausganica, a certified organic cosmetic brand. Visit LiaoMoreen.com