Chinese Medicine Body Clock- How to Live in Sync
What is the Body Clock?
The Chinese Medicine body clock, or organ clock, breaks down our days into neat 2-hour chunks of time that correspond to the Chinese meridians and organ systems. There are numerous correlations between each of the organs that can take years to fully comprehend but the basis of this system is easy and relevant to our daily life. It explains how Qi moves thru our body and which organ system is most active and working at its fullest potential throughout the day. It also shows when an organ system is at its weakest point or most restful state. In Chinese medicine the organ systems are not only the physiological chunk of tissue that comprises each vital organ but the entirety of its bio-mechanical pathways, mechanisms and associations with nature such as emotion, taste, sense organ, season, color and time.
It tends to resembles the circadian clock, another 24 hour cyclic diagram that explains the bodies biological mechanisms at play and internal processes that are influenced by our environment. The circadian rhythm breaks the day down into periods of time in which the body is influenced by hormonal changes, melatonin, cortisol or changes in body temperature.
Want to know more about the Organ Systems?
The organ systems are named after major organs within our body and each one has a meridian associated with it. One major categorization of the organ systems is the relationship with its yin/yang pair. You will see this relationship clearly when you follow the clock through its 24 hour cycle.
-Lung (yin) / Large Intestine (yang)
-Stomach (yang) / Spleen (yin)
-Heart (yin) /Small Intestine (yang)
-Bladder (yang) / Kidney (yin)
-Pericardium (yin) /Triple Burner (yang)
-Gallbladder (yang) / Liver (yin)
Each chunk of time is related to a specific organ system and has its own set of unique characteristics in which certain functions of the body can perform at a more optimal level.
3-5 am- This is the beginning of the cycle is when the Lungs energy are at their peak. You should be asleep during this part of the cycle, soft deep rhythmic breaths will help us sleep and process emotions. The lungs are linked with emotions such as grief.
5-7 am- The bodies Qi then moves onto be the most active within our Large Intestine. The body is ready to wake up and start a fresh new day! A healthy body empties it bowels soon after waking, to have a fresh start to the day, and to rid the body of waste accumulation overnight.
7-9 am- Ah yes- the Stomach, moving onto the beloved breakfast “the most important meal of the day”. This is an ideal time to eat the biggest meal of the day as the energy of the stomach is at its highest, making the body more efficient at digestion and absorption, optimizing digestion.
9-11 am-The Spleen is a tricky organ system to comprehend when trying to make a correlation between Chinese medicine and western thought. It can be thought of as the spleen/pancreas, the yin earth pair to the stomachs yang energy. This is a great time of the day to get work done and exercise! The spleen helps to convert food you eat into brain food.
11-1pm- High noon bring the energy of the body to the Heart, the yin organ of fire. This is also when the day is at its fullest yang energy. The body is now focusing upon circulating nutrients absorbed by the food to the entirety of the system.
1-3pm- The Small Intestine helps to separate clear fluids from turbid, and filter them to the kidneys or large intestine for waste secretion.
3-5pm- The time of the Bladder is often when people feel a lull in energy especially if they are not well hydrated.
5-7pm- This is when the Kidney energy is at its highest. The kidneys are the root of all energy in the Chinese organ system. This is a great time to eat a light and healthy meal to help replenish the bodies nutrients.
7-9pm- The time of the Pericardium, known as the protector of the Heart. This time frame is a wonderful time to do activities to nourish the heart such as socialize with loved ones, create art and music, or go dancing.
9-11pm-The Triple Burner, also known as the San Jiao, is most active at this time. It is a great time to wind down, relax and drift off to sleep. Gentle stretching, meditation, reading or cuddling can help the body quiet down. This is when melatonin secretion begins within our circadian rhythm.
11-1am- The time of the Gallbladder- it is said that when out of balance a person has trouble making decisions and has low self-esteem. A spike in energy can come at this time for many people, but it is best to use this time to go to bed.
1-3am- This is the time of the Liver and is the best time for deep sleep and dreaming. Often people with deficiencies wake during this time and experience a range of emotions.
How can the clock help me?
The Chinese clock and the circadian rhythm help to remind us that we are influenced by our environment in many ways. It reminds us when each organ system is functioning optimally and at its highest energy. When we live in connection to the natural cycles of our body we tend more be more balanced and can love a healthier happier life!
If you are seeing an Acupuncturist, they will most likely be referencing this clock and the theories it is based upon. The relationships shown within this clock make up the basis for diagnosing many patterns. For example looking at the organ system clock opposite, or neighbor can point to other ways to help ease issues within a specific organ or pain within a specific meridian.