BLOG ENTRY: SUMMER SOLSTICE
7-21-15 Summer solstice: ䷀乾Qian/’the creative’ great yang is transforming to the beginnings of yin qi from below (䷫姤Gou/’coming to meet’). Yang has reached it’s peak and as yin reappears from below, the strong, uplifting force of the qi of springtime loses its strength. Yang qi is full at the surface, but lacks a strong vital internal force to support it. In the Tian/Zeng lineage of Shang Han Lun presently led by Arnaud Versluys, the few days preceding and including summer solstice is the time to take formulas containing fu zi, such as si ni tang, to bolster internal yang qi.
For some people, heat evils resulting from latent cold that was unresolved in winter and early spring may need to be gently dispersed. However, we must also adapt to local conditions and weather patterns. Here in San Diego, a very strong temperature inversion develops in the late spring/early summer, caused by the strong heating in inland desert regions to the east, with temperatures of 110-115 degrees common, and a deep marine layer that is drawn from over the ocean. The ocean remains relatively cold (60-65 degrees fahrenheit), with dense, humid air overhead, and this relatively high pressure is pulled towards the lighter, dry, hot desert air, lowering temperatures along the California coast and creating an inversion with the hot desert air overhead. This creates a scenario of weeks of low stratus and relatively cool temperatures in the 60’s and low 70’s, while five to ten miles inland, temperatures are in the 80’s and 90’s, with sunny days. This inversion leads to stagnant air underneath the inversion, with a tendency to respiratory and digestive disorders marked by phlegm, coughing and slight chill alternating with heat effusion, bloating, and/or heat diarrhea. This ‘stuck pattern’ often manifests as a combination taiyang/shaoyang disorder, combination shaoyang/yangming disorder, or a modified shaoyang disorder. Patients I’ve seen often have a pervasive tongue coating, and either wiry or wiry/soggy, wiry/slippery pulses along with the above symptoms. So I’ve found myself prescribing formulas such as a modified xiao chai hu tang, da chai hu tang for combination yangming/shaoyang disorder, chai hu gui zhi tang for a combination taiyang/yangming disorder, and chai hu gui zhi gan jiang tang.
Large bodies of water, especially those dominated by cold currents such as the west coast of the Americas, are slower to heat up than adjacent land masses. So the seasons per se are slower to catch up and depart compared to more continental regions of the West. This leads to a delayed summer in San Diego, often cool and cloudy, and a gradual appearance of summer in July, but a much hotter and drier autumn than other parts of the U.S. As the temperature inversion here weakens and we are exposed to the sun’s direct heat, it is important not to ‘overdose’ on sunlight, sweating and excessive daytime activity in order to preserve our yang qi, while also being outdoors (perhaps in the shade part of the time) and being active, swimming, hiking, and spending time in natural surroundings, leaving the cities. We must be careful not to consume too many cold or iced foods or drinks, and instead drink mildly dispersing, acrid teas such as fresh green tea with peppermint and a touch of ginger, streamed green vegetables such as bok choy, and light, easily digestible whole grains such as as Bhutanese red rice, quinoa, and corn, the grain of summer, especially blue corn. As done in hot climates such as India and Mexico, the use of warm, acrid spices is recommended, such as asafetida, ginger, and chili, to protect the qi transformation of spleen and stomach. These will help gently disperse the exterior, cool the outside of the body while concurrently protecting and keeping the interior yang qi functional.
Enjoy the summer, and let’s check in every once in awhile!