The 24-Hour Body Clock of Chinese Medicine

24 Hour Body Clock of Chinese MedicineEvery so often I like to revisit this topic. It’s very helpful information and can bring awareness to the problem of disturbed sleep which is of interest to just about everyone. The 24-hour body clock of Chinese Medicine is a representation of the movement of energy through the body’s meridians (energy pathways) and organs in a 24-hour period. Every two hours the energy is strongest in a particular meridian and organ within the body.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), almost all our body functions are linked to a specific time on our internal clock. “This is the time when that particular organ and its related meridians are said to be most energized and working hardest, affecting everything from your emotions to your productivity.” The Chinese believe that to achieve optimum health we need to be in harmony with our internal and external environment.

When our energy is blocked or imbalanced; we experience physical symptoms. If we wake at the same time every night with insomnia; the energy most active at that time is probably blocked.

The best time for bed is between 10 and 11 pm. Gallbladder meridian is most active between 11pm – 1am. Its function is to excrete bile and digest healthy fats and emotionally it’s associated with decision making. “If you’re not resting by 11pm, you could have issues with digesting fats and the emotional components of decision making.”

Here’s the list:

  • 1-3am – organ – liver, activity- deep sleep and dreaming, emotions- anger, frustration, anxiety. A balanced liver keeps these emotions in check.
  • 3-5am – organ- lung, activity -sleeping and gentle breathing, emotions- grief and sadness
  • 5-7am – organ- large intestine, activity-waking and releasing, emotions- releasing that which no longer serves us. A glass of water is a good start to the day
  • 7-9am – organ-stomach, activity-eating and nourishing, emotions being processed- disgust or despair. Having a warming, nutritious breakfast is best.
  • 9-11am – organ-spleen-pancreas, activity-thinking and working, emotions-worry
  • 11am-1pm – organ- heart, actively engaging with friends and eating, emotions- joy or frightful sadness
  • 1-3pm – organ-small intestine, activity-separating useful from useless, organizing, emotions processed- insecurity
  • 3-5pm – organ- bladder, action-reserving and storing, emotion-irritation, moving internal energy. Energy can dip at this time of day. Snacking on something salty will help the energy level.
  • 5-7pm – organ- kidney, activity-replenishing vital energy, emotion-fear
  • 7-9pm – organ-pericardium, activity-emotional support, emotions- excessive euphoria and compassion. Focus on spending quality time with loved ones and self-care.
  • 9-11pm – organ-triple warmer (metabolism, blood vessels), activity-relaxing and hydrating, emotions-hopelessness, confusion
  • 11pm – 1am – organ-gallbladder, action-sleeping and regenerating, emotions being processed-indecisiveness and resentment.

Keeping your energy balanced will improve body, mind, and spirit.

Myofascial Release and Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD)

Muscle Tension DysphoniaMuscle Tension Dysphonia is a voice disorder which occurs when the muscles around the voice box are so tight that the quality and volume of the voice are impaired. This condition can be the result of illness (laryngitis) overuse, stress or other conditions. It may continue even after laryngitis is gone.

Some symptoms of MTD on the voice include

  • Breathy quality
  • Hoarseness
  • Raspyness
  • Rough or weak voice
  • Strained, squeezed tight or tense voice
  • Pain or tightness when speaking or singing

The voice may also completely cut out or fade away the longer one is speaking or singing. Tight muscles in the throat create a restricted range of motion and reduced volume and quality of voice. Other changes that can occur are an elevated voice box and hyoid bone, muscle imbalances and poor posture. Myofascial Release is very effective in treating MTD. Utilizing the gentle sustained pressure of myofascial release on the fascial restrictions and tight muscles of the neck and torso will help to release and elongate the muscles. Myofascial release will also improve range of motion, posture and diminish pain. Treatment plan will usually involve once week treatment with stretching exercises for home for a period of 8 weeks or so. Core muscle exercises and stress reduction are also important in treatment.

Sciatica Pain and Gall Bladder Meridian

The Mayo Clinic definition of sciatica from August, 2015 states that it is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg ending just below the knee. There are two types of sciatica: acute (caused by recent injury) and chronic (recurring). Most people who experience sciatica will usually have pain on one side of their body.

Though there are many causes for sciatica, from slipped or herniated discs to infections or injuries, in many cases there is no immediately obvious cause. Sciatica is a symptom not a condition; anything that irritates the sciatic nerve can bring about this symptom.

In the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine, pain is created by blockages (stagnation) in a person’s chi (energy) and blood. When the body’s energy is flowing freely, we are pain free. Most times when I treat sciatica I will work along the gall bladder meridian which flows exactly through the path of the sciatic pain. Sometimes the bladder meridian will also be involved. The bladder meridian travels down the back parallel to the spine, through the center of the buttocks, through the center of the back of the thigh and lower leg to the lateral side of ankle ending in the fifth toe.

When we look at these two meridians from the bodymind connection we know that Gall Bladder is associated with decision making and every day stress. In today’s society there’s plenty of stress to navigate each day. The Bladder is associated with the amount of rest we get each day and also with Kidney energy. We can see how long stressful days and inadequate rest can create an imbalance (blockage) in these meridians. The solutions: get adequate rest, have your energy balanced, exercise, especially stretching.