In Oriental 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 am to 3 am may indicate a Liver imbalance. ￼
There are 12 major meridians or flows of energy (qi) which sustain life and sit within the 24 hour clock.
Each of these flows has 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 Yang (expressing energy) and Yin (receiving energy) of an element…
Earth – Stomach & Spleen
Metal – Large Intestine & Lung
Water – Bladder & Kidney
Wood – Gall Bladder & Liver
Fire – Small Intestine & Heart & Triple Heater & Pericardium
The 24hr cycle of Organs/Meridians
How to live in harmony with the 24 hour flow of Meridians
5 am to 7 am — Large Intestine
This is the optimal time for your body to move its bowels and make room for the new day’s nutritional intake. For some 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. This is the best time of the day to stretch, walk, run, do yoga, gym, aerobics, qigong, tai chi, deep breathing or some type of movement exercise to help eliminate the toxins cleansed from your body during the night.
7 am to 9 am — 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.” How you eat can be as important as what you eat – you will not digest things properly if you eat on the run or in the car. Sit, relax and take the time to really enjoy your breakfast food. Make the intention of relaxed nourishment and it will give you the energy to enjoy your day. If instead you choose anxiety as the dominant mood during this time period, you will tie your stomach in knots of nervous energy for the rest of the day. Choose wisely.
9 am to 11 am — 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/Pancreas are paired together in Chinese Medicine and are intimately connected. The positive aspect related to these organs is intention, thought, and grounding. The negative emotion is excessive worry and anxiety, often repeating the same thoughts in the mind over and over again, and as a result, inhibiting the digestive process. This is the productive thinking time, to set your intention for the day, and then to knuckle down and begin the work, setting aside any distractions (remember to schedule breaks from concentration).
11 am – 1 pm — 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 communication, which is governed by the heart. Traditionally this is the time to enjoy a meal with others. It is a good idea to schedule any important meetings or communication around this time. This is also the most yang time of the day so it may be a good time to complete any tasks that require lots of energy.
1 pm to 3 pm— Small Intestine
Foods requiring longer digestion times such as proteins complete their digestion and assimilation. Make sure your biggest meals are eaten before 2pm or 3pm. This time is still associated with the element of fire and time for communication and yang action.
3 pm to 5 pm — 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. If you have eaten and digested your food well this can be a productive time of the day. The day’s yang energy is declining towards the yin of night, so best not to schedule any very physical tasks here. Rather look for activities you can do which involve less energy output and lots of easy thinking. This is the part of the afternoon best to cruise through an activity rather than begin a strenuous task.
5 pm to 7 pm — Kidney
The 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 positive emotion of the kidneys is trust (wisdom) – after the day’s activities, trusting that everything will eventually be alright – even if some things did not go to plan and mistakes happened. The negative emotion is fear. This is traditionally a time to be with your family or friends and talk with courage about your day in review. Your evening meal should be eaten here and it should be the smallest meal of the day. Here the yang energy of the day winds down and the yin relaxation increases, so there is not a lot of energy to properly digest food.
7 pm to 9 pm — Pericardium
Nutrients are carried to capillaries and to the lymphatics. This time is attributed to the element of ministerial fire – which is very social in nature – and relates to the heartfelt joy we allow into our lives. The days work now complete, traditionally this is the time we get to do our heartfelt activities – chatting, knitting or whittling sticks by the fire, playing a musical instrument, listening to music, dancing, writing, singing, making models, painting a picture, reading, playing cards or a board game, watching a play – and countless other enjoyable hobbies. Whatever fills your heart with joy – this is the time to embrace it into your being.
9 pm to 11 pm — Triple Heater
The “three levels” in Oriental 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. During your sleep the body enters the parasympathetic nervous system and begins to repair itself. If you do not go to sleep by this time you miss out on a lot of the benefits of the repair work that happens during the night.
11 pm to 1 am — Gall Bladder
Initial cleansing of all tissues, processes cholesterol, and enhances brain function. The liver begins to cleanse toxins.
1 am to 3 am — 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.
3am to 5am — 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.
The Cause of Disease From an Oriental 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…