Traditional Chinese Medicine
As we enter a new year, it is natural to want to look back on the last one. As humans, we have the gift and the hurdle of marking time, so it can feel helpful to recall memories we want to hold on to or look for lessons we can take with us.
To that end, here are three categories in which research into the type, application and efficacy of acupuncture saw significant advancements in 2020, findings that will certainly help guide us as we move forward. In a year that saw so much focus on our health, these findings offer some good news in the fields of pain management without opioids, migraine headaches, and insight into why it is that acupuncture is effective as an anti-inflammatory. continue reading
It’s that time of year again: the time when many of us engage in the practice of setting a new year’s resolution.
It seems, though, that hand-in-hand with new year’s resolutions is the prediction of inevitable failure. That as soon as you pick a resolution, you won’t actually make it through the whole year sticking with the new behavior, or that by the third week of January the resolution will be out of sight, out of mind. So, I wanted to offer some tips on how to join in the tradition in a way that might foster more success, by incorporating some wisdom from traditional Chinese medicine. continue reading
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, health is achieved by living in balance with nature and the seasons. Winter, the season of the Water Element, is the season for slowing down, reflecting, and conserving our resources. We all feel this tendency, but we don’t always listen to our bodies. In Western culture, being active is rewarded and expected. We feel compelled to keep up the hectic pace that is typical in our daily lives.
This season is associated with the kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands and the time of year when these organs are most active, accessible, and even vulnerable. They are more receptive to being restored, nurtured, and energized. At the same time, it is also when they can become easily depleted. continue reading
Enjoying Naps in the Winter Season
Most mammals are polyphasic sleepers, meaning that they sleep for short periods throughout the day. For humans, days are divided into two distinct periods, one for sleep and one for wakefulness, which is a monophasic sleep pattern. However, this may be a product of living in an industrialized world and not the natural sleep pattern of humans. In many cultures, young children and elderly take naps midday. Our bodies are programmed for two periods of intense sleepiness a day: between 2 and 4 am and 1 and 3 pm. Unfortunately, despite our biological vestige, we are having to consolidate our sleep into one long period. continue reading
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.