Exploring the 24 Hour Qi Clock
Most people are familiar with the terms diurnal and nocturnal. Diurnal means active during the daytime, while nocturnal means active during the nighttime. Together the two make up a 24-hour cycle known as a day. But, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this 24-hour cycle is viewed as much more than just a day in the life. The 24 hours of the day are viewed as increments of time and every two-hour section is associated with a specific energetic meridian that runs through the body.
This is known as the Qi clock.
Do you wake up every night or every morning about the same time? Have you ever wondered why? Some people call that an internal clock. In Chinese medicine, this gives a much deeper look into how the body functions though. Chinese medical theory divides the body based upon the 12 energetic meridians. Each of the meridians is assigned a two-hour time slot. For example, the liver meridian is associated with the hours of 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. If you wake up during this time frame, then its an indication something is going on with your liver meridian. So knowing this information can be very important to an acupuncturist/Chinese medicine practitioner.
During a 24-hour period, your energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) moves through the organ systems in two-hour intervals. Qi draws inward to help restore the body between the hours of 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. The liver cleanses the blood and performs other functions, such as getting the blood ready to travel outward into the rest of the body. Over the next 12 hours, Qi cycles through the organs that assimilate, digest and eliminate food through the body or our diurnal organs. By mid-afternoon, the body begins to slow down again in preparation for the nocturnal phase. The nocturnal phase is all about restoring and maintaining. So when one organ system is at its peak, its counterpart, on the opposite side of the clock is at its lowest point. An example is 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., which are the hours of the stomach. This is when the stomach is at its peak and also why it is recommended to eat a big breakfast. On the opposite side of the clock lies the pericardium, which is associated with the pituitary, hypothalamus and reproductive organs. The pericardium is at its weakest point between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.
Here’s a brief summary of the 24 hour Qi cycle:
- 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. is lung time
- 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. is large intestine time
- 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. is stomach time
- 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. is spleen time
- 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. is heart time
- 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. is small intestine time
- 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. is urinary bladder time
- 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. is kidney time
- 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. is pericardium time
- 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. is triple burner time
- 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. is gall bladder time
- 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. is liver time
So if you have recurring problems at the same time every day, then there is a good chance that the organ/meridian associated with that time is in distress. This is why Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners ask so many questions and also why they look at the body as a whole instead of just one particular organ. By understanding that every organ/energetic meridian has a maintenance schedule to keep daily, you can then treat your body properly so you achieve the ultimate health and well-being and acupuncture can help you achieve that goal. Acupuncturists treat the body based on things like your symptomology, your pulses, your tongue and the 24-hour Qi clock indications you exhibit. The goal is to bring the body back into balance and knowing when the meridians are at their peaks and valleys is a great place to begin.
ACUPUNCTURE FOR MEN’S HEALTH
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complete medical system that has been around for nearly 3,000 years. It combines nutrition, herbs, acupuncture and other modalities to help keep the body functioning properly, while also treating any ailments that might occur. TCM has been used to treat both men and women, regardless of age and it is frequently becoming the medical choice for those who prefer to treat things naturally.
There are certain health issues more prevalent in men than women and many of these conditions can be easily controlled or treated using Traditional Chinese Medicine. Afflictions such as high blood pressure, depression, urinary issues, stress and prostate problems are just a few of the issues that are more frequently seen in men than women. And these issues, along with many others, respond very favorably to acupuncture and TCM.
Most people think of acupuncture for pain relief, but the truth is it can treat much more. Acupuncture can help with anxiety, depression, heart health, insomnia, digestive issues and of course any kind of pain. Acupuncture is most commonly thought of as a way of relieving pain and it is usually sought out after everything else has failed to provide adequate pain relief. Without purposely trying to cause a debate between the sexes, it is statistically shown that men are less likely to seek out help when they experience pain, as they don’t want to appear weak. This is where something like acupuncture can be a great asset for men. Regular acupuncture treatments as preventive medicine can help keep them in top shape, thus avoiding aches, pains, strains and pulls.
Acupuncture also calms the mind, the nervous system and the endocrine system. All of these things work in conjunction to keep the body functioning properly. However, in the world we currently live in, stress, anxiety and depression have become rampant. Specific acupuncture points can literally decrease the heart rate, slow breathing and relax the mind in a matter of seconds to minutes. This helps alleviate the added stress that men, in particular, feel on a daily basis.
TCM has a long history of being used to help with fertility issues and sexual vitality. As men age and life takes over, many men experience a lack of libido and decreased sexual function. Improperly balanced hormones affected by long hours at the office, improper diet and lack of sleep can all lead to sexual dysfunction and fertility problems. This all relates to the kidneys in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Regular acupuncture treatments and herbs are a great way to return hormone levels to normal and restore sexual vitality in men.
In much the same way that TCM helps balance hormones within the kidney and endocrine system, it is also frequently used to regulate the circulatory system. Men, once again, tend to have higher levels of stress that can affect the heart and circulatory systems. Specific acupuncture points and herbs can easily lower blood pressure, calm heart arrhythmias and increase circulation to the peripheral areas of the body.
This just touches the tip of the iceberg when it comes to men’s health. But it is easy to see why choosing acupuncture to help keep the body in alignment is a great option, especially for men.
- Prostate issues are a prominent concern for men. From enlarged prostates to prostate cancer, this area of the body gets a lot of attention. One of the most common problems facing men is benign prostatic hyperplasia or what is commonly called the enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate often leads to bladder, kidney and urinary problems, especially urinary retention. This is very easily controlled with acupuncture and herbs because the combination of the two help alleviate the inflammation of the prostate allowing the urine to flow freely.
- Cardiovascular disease is another big concern for men and it is the leading health threat to men. Acupuncture has been found to be particularly beneficial in lowering blood pressure, which often helps prevent cardiovascular disease. Acupuncture stimulates the release of natural opioids in the body, which then decreases the heart’s activity and lowers the need for excess oxygen. All of this lowers blood pressure.
- Another area where men need more help is dealing with mental health issues and depression. Men are much less likely to discuss their feelings and emotions, which can frequently lead to depression and even thoughts of suicide. In fact, men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Acupuncture helps balance the chemicals released by the brain and the hormones released by the endocrine system. All of these imbalanced chemicals can lead to mental health issues that manifest over time.
- Insomnia and sleep-related disorders are another major concern for men. Acupuncture has been shown to be beneficial at restoring balance and allowing the body to relax and rejuvenate. In fact, acupuncture often times outperforms many prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids.
- Men tend to suffer from pain more than women, just because their jobs can be more physical. It is statistically shown that men are less likely to seek out help when they experience pain, as they don’t want to appear weak. This is where something like acupuncture can be a great asset for men. Regular acupuncture treatments as preventive medicine can help keep them in top shape, thus avoiding aches, pains, strains and pulls.
- Fertility is not something that usually comes to mind when it comes to men’s health issues. However, stats show that 35-40 percent of all fertility issues are male conditions. Studies have shown acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very effective at improving sperm quality and the instructional integrity of the sperm. This is why many acupuncturists who focus on fertility issues treat both the male and the female as a team.
- Lastly, acupuncture is a great way to combat digestive issues frequently related to added stress and this occurs more in men than it does in women. The most common digestive disorder is heartburn or acid reflux, which is usually caused by stress and poor diet. When stress levels are decreased, then stomach acid can decrease also, thus alleviating heartburn.
These are just a few of the issues acupuncture can help with when it comes to men’s health. But it is easy to see why choosing acupuncture to help keep the body in alignment is a great option, especially for men.
Acupuncture for Rehabilitation from Sports Injury
Sports injuries are an incredibly common reason patients first seek out treatment with Traditional Chinese Medicine. From a TCM perspective, there are numerous energetic imbalances that may have predisposed someone to a particular injury, or may now be affected by the injury. A trained practitioner will look at the location of the injury, the depth of the injury, and the pathology of the injury.
A sports injury anywhere on the body may have the following components:
Blood Stasis: Blood stasis is often caused by trauma to the local area, such as falling on the soccer field or getting hit with a hockey stick. Symptoms of blood stasis include sharp and stabbing pain that is worse with pressure, bruising and skin discoloration. When the stasis is severe it may affect sleep. Sports injuries such as bone breaks, contusions, fractures, tendon and ligament tears frequently have a blood stasis component.
Qi Stagnation: Qi stagnation can be caused by trauma but more frequently is caused by overuse, repetitive motion, poor posture or form while doing an exercise. Pain from a Qi stagnation injury tends to be dull, achy, throbbing and diffuse. Normally it is worse with pressure, but may be better with gentle movement. Common injuries that often involve Qi stagnation are tendonitis, muscle strains, chronically tight muscles and shin splints.
Heat: Both Qi stagnation and blood stagnation can generate heat, which is a TCM explanation for lots of kinds of inflammation. Any sports injury that presents as red, hot and swollen has a heat component to it.
Cold: Just as pathogenic heat can be a factor in sports injuries, so too can pathogenic cold. There is an idea in TCM that cold can “direct strike” an organ or energy system, leading to severe, acute, cramping pain. This often occurs after exposure to cold, such as running a race on a cold day, swimming in cold water or sitting in an ice bath after a workout. Cold can also be a factor in certain chronic areas of pain, particularly when bone is involved or when the injury is in a location that doesn’t get a lot of blood flow.
Blood deficiency: Any acute sports injury has a component of stagnation or stasis. However, there may be an underlying blood deficiency that allowed the tissues to be more susceptible to injury. The blood is said to nourish the tendons, so this is particularly true in tendon injuries such as tennis elbow or achilles tendonitis. Blood deficiency may also be a result of a sports injury, such as a concussion, which means the body needs more resources to rebuild itself after the injury.
Luckily, TCM has numerous ways of treating sports injuries and helping in the rehabilitation process:
Acupuncture: Acupuncture can help to increase blood flow to an area, reduce pain, inflammation and help tissues heal.
Healthy Eating for Summer
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that is thousands of years old and incorporates many different modalities. TCM theory emphasizes that Mother Nature provides the right kind of food for the right kind of environment. For instance, if the weather is cold, then warming, nutrient-dense foods are best for the body. Likewise, when summer rolls around, it is best to partake of cooling foods and foods that are abundant during this season.
Summeris a time of great abundance. Or as the Chinese refer to it, the time of utmost yang. The days are longer and warmer. And everything and everybody seems to be more active. The warmth of the summer sun encourages growth and maturation. In TCM, summer relates to the element of fire and the heart and small intestine energetic pathways or meridians. Because summer is a time of growth, many fruits and vegetables become abundant during the season. And because the season tends to be the warmest, it is important to stay cool and hydrated.
The body is thought to contain a substance the Chinese call Qi (pronounced “chee”). This Qi is frequently translated into the term energy in English. When a person’s Qi is low, then a deficiency develops. Conversely, when there is an excess of Qi, problems may arise indicative of this. Sweat is the fluid of the heart. When a person sweats excessively, the Qi of the heart becomes scattered and weak. This can weaken the mind and cause symptoms like depression, restlessness, insomnia and irritability. But this can be countered by eating foods salty and sour in nature. This includes foods such as miso, pickles, lemons, limes and sour plums.
The summer months are generally hot and therefore the body needs to be kept cool. This is the perfect time to eat more raw foods that clear heat. But as with anything, don’t overdo it. Too much cold or raw foods can wreak havoc on the digestive tract causing spasms, tightness and contractions. This will make the body work harder to warm the food being eaten, which can then deplete the Qi of the spleen and stomach meridians. Therefore cooked foods and even soups are still recommended during the warm summer months. They are usually made with seasonally-available foods or eaten at room temperature to avoid any digestive conflict.
It is best to avoid heavy, greasy and fried foods during the summer months, as they can clog up the digestive system. They can also create excess phlegm in the lungs leading to respiratory problems. And when cooking during the season of summer, it is best to create meals quickly and simply by grilling or stir frying.
Examples of foods beneficial for the summer months include peppers, eggplant, cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach, melons of all kinds, beets, berries, pineapple, cucumbers, grapefruit and mushrooms. If you need more help understanding or designing a proper seasonal-eating plan, contact your local acupuncturist or TCM practitioner. They will definitely be able to help you identify what plan works best for you.