San Fu and The Dog Days of Summer

Let's Talk Sirius About These Dog Days

In TCM there is a time of year where all those pesky winter ills can be rectified at the source, this time of year is known as San Fu season. This is usually determined by where the Sun is in Chinese medicine whereas in Greek mythology it was determined by Sirius rising with the Sun during the mid July and August months. San Fu are a period of three, 10 day cycles that are the hottest days of the year. The three periods are characterized as Toufu, Zhongfu and Weifu.

As far back as Homer's The Iliad , the dog days are referred to as a time of great catastrophe and disaster due to the high levels of heat. This is why making sure to keep hydrated, eating well and lightly as well as not over exerting yourself are all so important during this time. 

Although many associate the Dog Days as a time that "dogs go crazy" this is not the actual case. This is a time when in Greek Tradition it was said the Sirius, the 'star dog' in the heavens, would rise with the Sun and brought along with it the hotter days of summer. According to scientist today the Dog Days are changing due to where the position of Sirius is and how the Earth "wobbles" unsteadily. It is said that in about 13,000 years the 'Dog Days of Winter' will be the new phrase because Sirius would be rising with the Sun during the middle of Winter. But for now lets talk about how the Dog Days of Summer are related to San Fu.

San Fu Traditions in China 

During this time traditions in China are still prominent. San Fu brings with is the hottest temperature due to the intensity of the Sun. Tons of TCM patients rush to their local practitioners to receive what is known as Sanfutie. This is a traditional medicinal bandage that is made of Chinese herbs. Although in TCM we are taught to avoid excess heating during the summer, the San Fu period is an exception to this rule. It is said that, "in the summer we nourish yang, in the winter we nourish yin."  Warm and pungent herbs are used to disperse cold, transform phlegm, warm lungs, boost kidneys and secure the root of Qi. Tradition has shown that the use of warming herbs during these special periods allows the practitioner to treat the root of disease rather than the branch, eliminating disease and even preventing symptoms before winter arrives. 

Lily Dumplings.jpg

Due to the high heat levels, losing our appetite is extremely normal. Since we do have to eat and cannot do without food, its been tradition for over 2,000 years to eat dumpling as a way to refresh during the first phase of San Fu, Toufu. Due to our lack of appetite the very enticing dumplings suffice in stabilizing your spleen for the hotter days when we are not interested in eating due to the high temperatures. 

For the second phase, known as Zhongfu the tradition is to consume ginger tea as a way to disperse any internal heat due to its ability to help you eliminate toxins through the pores. Ginger's ability to help you sweat as well as tonify the stomach and spleen are reasons keep this kitchen staple in your diet during these dog days. 

What are Some of the Diseases and Illnesses that San Fu Can Help Eliminate?

Great question, it is said that those with a lingering winter cough will receive relief if they take advantage of using Sanfutie during San Fu. Those with emphysema, asthma, arthritis or any other respiratory concerns are also discomforts that should be addressed during Sanfu to prevent illness from arising in the cold, winter days. Due to the high heat and the pores being opened, the herbs found in the sanfutie are more easily absorbed to support the body's yang and in turn the body's immune system is enhanced.

Dog days will be over soon, hold on to your health and use these days wisely! 


Lily ChoiComment