Chinese Organ Clock

The Natural Rhythms of the Body: The Chinese Organ Clock

In Chinese Medicine, certain hours of the day correspond to certain organs in your body.  Following the natural rhythm of your own body enhances health; going against the natural rhythm of your own body may cause your health to decline.  If you are experiencing a symptom that seems to occur the same time each day, it may be linked to a specific imbalance in a particular Organ system.  For example, waking between the hours of 1 – 3 am may indicate a Liver imbalance.

There are 14 major meridians or flows of energy (qi) which sustain life and sit within the 24 hour clock.  Each of these have a two-hour period where the primary meridian is linked to particular parts of the body, thoughts, emotions and other spiritual aspects. They’re also partnered together as Yin (receiving energy) and Yang (expressing energy) of an element – Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire.

The 24hr cycle of organs/meridians:

5-7 a.m. — Large Intestine —  This is the optimal time for your body to move its bowels and make room for the new day’s nutritional intake. It is recommended to drink a glass of warm lemon juice to stimulate the bowels, get the lymph system moving and to remove toxins from the night’s cleansing.

7-9 a.m. — Stomach — Stomach energies and digestive fires are highest at this time  so it is important to have your largest meal of the day here to optimize digestion/assimilation. Eating a big breakfast keeps your blood sugar even, your mood even, and gives you the stamina to not just get through the day, but to enjoy your day. There is an old Chinese saying: ”Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dinner like a pauper.”

9-11 a.m. — Pancreas/Spleen— The stomach passes its contents on. Enzymes from the pancreas continue the digestive process and carbohydrate energy is made available. This is also an acceptable time to eat your largest meal of the day. The Stomach and Spleen are paired together in Chinese Medicine and are intimately connected. They relate to the emotion of worry.

11 a.m.-1 p.m. — Heart — Food materials enter the blood stream and the heart pumps nutrients throughout the system and takes its lipid requirements. The Heart and Small Intestine are paired organs and are attributed to the element of fire. This is the time of day for action and to get things done.

1-3 p.m. — Small Intestine — Foods requiring longer digestion times such as proteins complete their digestion and assimilation. This is still associated with the element of fire and time for action. Make sure your biggest meals are eaten before 2pm or 3pm.

3-5 p.m. — Bladder — Metabolic wastes from morning’s nutrition intake clear, making room for the kidney’s filtration to come. Kidneys come in to play with the bladder around 3pm and is regarded as the Brain time. Starting at around 2pm your brain demands about 80% of the the glucose (or sugar) in your bloodstream. This is the optimal time of day for mental clarity and function.  However most people feel a slump and crave sugar at this time because they haven’t eaten wisely enough before this time to create stable blood sugar levels. Avoiding stimulants, eat protein with each meal, drink adequate amounts of water and exercise to prevent this slump in energy.

5-7 p.m. — Kidney — Filters blood and maintains proper chemical balance of blood based on nutritional intake of the day. The blood delivers useable nutrients to all tissues. The emotion of the kidneys is fear.

7-9 p.m. — Pericardium/Heart— Nutrients are carried to capillaries and to the lymphatics. This time is attributed to the element of fire which is very social in nature and is the optimal time to commune with family, friends, and loved ones.

9-11 p.m. — Triple Heater — The “three levels” in Chinese medicine refer to three sections of your torso which contain each group of organs. The endocrine system adjusts the homeostasis of the body based on electrolyte and enzyme replenishment. This is the time to begin to slow down and prepare for bed. It is optimal to be asleep by 10pm. It is during this time that your Liver stores the blood and begins cooling it down from the day. You need to be asleep in order for this function to happen effectively.

11 p.m.- 1 a.m. — Gall Bladder — Initial cleansing of all tissues, processes cholesterol, and enhances brain function. The liver begins to cleanse toxins.

1-3 a.m. — Liver — Cleansing of blood and processing of wastes. This is a common time to wake up. At 2am, our blood sugar drops to its lowest point. If you consistently wake during this time, ask yourself if you are depleted. You may not be eating well, are stressed, overusing stimulants or drugs or may be holding anger or resentment.

3-5 a.m. — Lung — Respiration, oxygenation and expulsion of waste gases. The lungs are associated with Inspiration and grief. Many spiritual practices like meditation and yoga are said to be more effective in the early morning hours. This has to do with inspiration, or inhaling spirit, into your life. Many people who are grieving the loss of something in their lives experience loss of sleep during this time.

It is important to keep your natural rhythms supported and balanced.  Eat a balanced wholesome diet to support your organs, providing fuel for replenishment and to increase your vital life force.

From a Chinese medical perspective, the cause of pain and disease is due to blocked energy or a decrease of the flow of qi (energy) through your body. Exercise allows the free flow of energy to optimally reach through to all parts of your body. Proper energy flow is important for the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our health.  Incorporate exercise such as walking, running, tai-chi and yoga in to your life. Immerse yourself into nature where you can feel the natural rhythms of the earth. Being in nature balances the natural rhythms of your body and is healing. Be kind, nurture yourself and awaken to your own inner natural rhythm.

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