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  • Anna Lunaria, L.Ac.

Body Clock: Eastern Medicine Wisdom of Daily Rhythms

According to Eastern Medicine health paradigm, two hour blocks of time are associated

Chinese Medicine Clock

with a different body organ/system. If you have symptoms during specific times of day, look to which organ is most ‘active’ during that time. Living in harmony with the rhythms of this clock will help sustain and nurture health and wellbeing.

Let’s begin between 5 am and 7 am: the time assigned to the Large Intestine as this is the ideal time during which most of us should be rising from sleep and moving the Large Intestine Qi by having a healthy fully formed easy bowel movement.

Ideally between 5 am - 7 am you will also start the day by giving the body 16 oz of water and move your body: take a walk, practice yoga, tai chi, Qi Gong. During this time it’s better to drink green tea and avoid coffee. Green tea’s antioxidants help heal the GI system. While coffee can promote bowls movements, its acidity can goes distress for those with ulcers, gastritis, or other inflammatory conditions. Since the LI’s main role is to absorb water and eliminate waste to encourage Li to eliminate, bring more water into the system. Exercise at this time also opens up the pores during perspiration (elimination system) which helps the Yin organ paired with the LI the Lung. Exercise helps build LU Qi (energy) and promotes the circulation of Wei Qi (Immunity).

Between 7 am and 9 am we shift into Stomach Qi time. Stomach time, 7 am - 9 am is the ideal time to eat breakfast and focus on meal preparation for the rest of the day: come up with meal. that balance your daily nutrition needs. Remember that the quality of your Qi (energy levels and metabolism) is partially derived from the quality and quantity of the foods you consume.

Stomach and Spleen are most associated with the thinking process, and the aspect of body-mind-spirit call Yi. This ins one reason why a healthy breakfast promotes better cognitive function. Skipping meals or making poor food choices during this time negatively effects cognitive function.

Between 9 am and 11 am is Spleen time. Spleen in EM also encompasses functions of the pancreas and some digestive functions. Spleen in EM is most associated with ‘Yi’ (cognitive function), as well as metabolism or the act of converting nutrients into energy and action. This is the ideal time to work and be inspired.

Because the St/Sp are both associated with muscles, between 7 am - 11 am is also an ideal time for more vigorous workouts that build muscle mass.

Between 11 am and 1 pm is the time for the Heart. This is an ideal time to eat lunch with others connecting and socializing. This is also an ideal time to meditate. Eat light, nutritious foods.

Heart is Shen-Men: if you have difficulty falling asleep getting acupuncture or meditating during this time can help calm the body-mind-spirit.

Between 1 pm and 3 pm is Small Intestine time; by this time the food you ate for breakfast has made its way into the small intestine where your body is busy breaking complex chains of nutrients down into its basic components before sending various things off to the liver, the large intestine, the kidneys, and though the blood stream to all your muscles. In EM, the small intestine similarly helps us sort through our life challenges, mentally helping us analyze and organize the challenges/problems we give yourselves. This is a good time to get some higher level thinking done.

Between 3 pm and 5 pm is Bladder time. The Bladder meridian runs down the back of the body. If you’ve been sitting all day take a break for gentle back bends and forward bends. Stop and drink herbal tea or nutritious juice or water. Notice the quality of your urination during this time.

Between 5 pm and 7 pm is Kidney time. According to EM, Kidneys are the repository of our Jing, genetic and overall life force. During this time it’s important to rest, relax, put yourself first. If you haven't exercised yet, this is a good time to practice gentle yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and do a deeply restorative relaxation, get an acupuncture treatment or bodywork, shiatsu, massage therapy, etc.

Since the Bladder and Kidney are associated with water, between 3-7 pm is ideal time to swim. Since B-Ki are associated with bones, this would be an ideal time for a weight bearing exercise for those concerned with prevention of osteopenia and osteoporosis. Also, because the Bladder meridian is located along the back and the Kidney meridian is associated both with your deepest level of jing (life force) AND with the low back: this is an ideal time to receive acupuncture, massage, practice yoga etc.

Between 7 pm and 9 pm is Pericardium time. The Pericardium is the lining around the heart, and thus in EM called the ‘Heart protector’. During this time time is a great time to laugh, connect with friends and family. Warm baths, touch, and other soothing activities during this time is calming to the body-mind.

Between 9 pm and 11 pm is the Triple Warmer time. TW in EM is most easily correlated to the thyroid, adrenals, body temperature, immunity and overall metabolism. Avoid eating during this time. Unwind, relax and prepare to g to sleep. The sooner you go to sleep during this time period the more you restore your overall energy levels.

Between 11 pm and 1 am is the Gallbladder time. it is ideal to be in a deep sleep during this time to restore and regenerate. GB is associated with courage and energy to act decisively in the world. Being awake during this time depletes one’s energy reserve quickly and drains away courage. Waking up from fear full dreams or waking up with anxiety during this time is associated with GB Qi deficiency - and if also accompanied with heart palpitations - HT Qi deficiency - and if also accompanied with a feeling of heat or night sweats, Yin deficiency.

Between 1 am and 3 am is Liver time. This is the ideal time to be into deep REM sleep and dreaming. The liver is said to be where the Ethereal Soul dwells, dreaming is the wandering Ethereal Soul. If not well anchored in the body, sleep is restless and interrupted during this time or dreams can be vivid, disturbing and leave us feeling unrefreshed upon waking. Alcohol, drugs (including pharmaceuticals) excessive sugar, a poor diet, as well as stress can all overload the liver making 1 am - 3 am a restless, sleepless time.

Between 3 am and 5 am is the time for the lungs to be restored. Sleep apnea, snoring or coughing during this time indicates Phlegm Obstructing the Lungs or Lu Qi deficiency.

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