Get In Sync With Your 24-Hour Qi Cycle
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been developed and refined for over 2,500 years. TCM is centered around the concept of Qi, or vital energy. When the body’s Qi is balanced and flowing we find ourselves experiencing a deep sense of well-being.
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One tenet of TCM is that all of our organ systems have an ebb and a flow, times of peak Qi and a times of lower energy. This is known as the Organ Body Clock. The Organ Body Clock is divided into two hour cycles over the course of 24 hours. During the two hours corresponding to a particular organ system, the body directs Qi into the organ to restore and maintain balance in the body. You can think of this cycle as the body’s self-care and cleansing regime—there is a natural cycle that occurs when each important organ in our body receives special attention and renewal.
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By learning more about the body’s natural rhythms you can discover why you may be experiencing certain symptoms at a specific time of day. For example, if you are waking up at midnight each night, the cause could be due to an imbalance in the gallbladder, sometimes brought about by holding onto feelings of resentment. If you find yourself with indigestion around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the feeling could point to an issue with your small intestines.
Chinese Medicine’s Organ Body Clock
Waste in the lungs is loosened and cleansed at this time. Problems with the lungs are related in TCM to grief or sadness.
Large intestine: 5am—7am
The large intestine is all about elimination. When we are constipated or dehydrated, we may find ourselves feeling sluggish in the early hours of the morning. The emotions associated with imbalance in the large intestines are guilt and defensiveness.
Do you wake up hungry for breakfast? When the stomach is balanced and free of symptoms, hunger strikes between 7-9am. When we eat a nutritious breakfast, we optimize our body’s capacity to absorb nutrients. When there is imbalance in the stomach, we may experience feelings of disgust and despair. To support the stomach and optimal digestion, eat a healthy breakfast and then take a walk. If you find yourself rushing in the morning, just 5-10 minutes of activity can support your wellbeing for the rest of the day.
According to TCM, the spleen is one of the most important organs: It keeps your immune system strong and your body healthy. In the later hours of the morning, the spleen works to turn your food into Qi. When the spleen is functioning properly, you will find yourself full of energy. Problems in the spleen can lead to feelings of low self esteem.
Midday is a perfect time to eat a well-balanced meal. The heart works hard during these hours to circulate nutrients. When the heart is being cleansed, you may experience a natural desire to rest and restore. Depending on your emotional state, you may experience feelings of either joy or sadness during this time.
Small Intestines: 1pm—3pm
The small intestines work to process and metabolize food from earlier in the day. Physical sensations can be an indicator of whether your meals earlier provided you with good nutrition. When there is imbalance, insecurity, feelings of abandonment and vulnerability may occur.
Do you find yourself heading to the restroom to relieve your bladder every afternoon? When the bladder is being cleansed, the body removes liquid waste. To stay balanced, make sure that you are drinking plenty of water. You may find yourself feeling timid or easily irritated if you are dehydrated and/or experiencing symptoms in the bladder.
The kidneys work to purify the blood. Support the body’s natural cleansing process by walking or stretching between 5-7pm to help encourage circulation. When the kidneys are healthy, you will feel energized at this time. Fear can be an emotional cue that kidneys are out of balance.
Circulation is very important from 7-9pm. To keep your body healthy, take some time to start turning inward. Reading, meditating and socializing may come easy during this period. You may also experience an increased sex drive. Although feelings can be strong, they can also be hard to express during these hours of the evening.
Triple Heater (or San Jiao): 9pm—11pm
This is the time that the body works on endocrine and metabolic balance. Ideally, we will fall asleep at this time, which helps conserve energy for the following day. Sometimes feelings of hopelessness or paranoia can arise.
If we are listening to the body’s natural rhythms, we will be asleep from 11pm-1am. During this important time, the body is repairing any cells that experienced damage and building new blood cells. The gallbladder stores and excretes bile to support the liver and aid digestion. Issues with the gallbladder can manifest in low self-esteem and poor judgement.
Do you have trouble sleeping after sipping (or chugging) one drink too many? Whether alcohol, too much sugar or any other toxic substance is to blame, we may find ourselves suddenly awake in the middle of the night. The liver cleanses our blood. Any problems during this time can point to an excess of toxins. When the liver is overloaded and not functioning properly, we may have trouble sleeping and low energy the following day. Emotionally, we can experience feelings of angst, anger or rage.
The body clock can provide us with a wealth of information about our overall health and wellbeing. This cycle of repair and maintenance is essential to our vitality. By discovering this incredible system, we can gather more information about the source of our symptoms and discover pathways for healing.
Photo by Eder Pozo Pérez on Unsplash
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