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Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Organ Clock

                                                                    Organ Clock

The notion of the organ clock, an aspect of traditional Chinese medicine, is closely related to the concept that all cycles and processes in the external world are mirrored in the human body. The five elements believed to make up the cosmos - water, fire, wood, metal and earth - are each linked closely with an organ system. Just as the five elements are in constant flux, so are the organ systems. Qi, the life energy, circulates like the blood from one system to another throughout the day and night, creating peaks and valleys in functioning. Each peak lasts about 2 hours; the mapping of the two-hour intervals through 12 organs (the five element-related organs, plus seven others), or areas, produces a kind of clock. In the diagnosis of health problems, the time symptoms occur is noted. Symptoms that often recur at an organ's peak time indicate an excess of qi; those that recur at ebb times reveal a deficiency. These imbalances, seen as the true sources of disease, are then addressed.

Suspicious Sleep Disorders

If a patient awakens at the same time each night and then cannot fall back asleep for an hour or two, it might be caused by a typical sleep disorder. This pattern may be an indication that there is something wrong with a particular organ's energy flow. Gallbladder ailments are typically felt between 11:00p.m. and 1:00a.m.; liver conditions can make themselves known from 1:00a.m. - 3:00a.m.; lung disorders are manifested from 3:00a.m. - 5:00a.m.

The Diagnosis: The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner questions the patient about specific times at which pains and complaints occur - when they are most intense and when they tend to subside. The symptoms and their timing are viewed in the context of the organ clock in order to determine which organ or body area is not functioning properly and whether an excess or a deficiency of qi in that organ or area is at the root of the problem.

Related Diagnostic Treatments: A TCM practitioner may also take 12 different pulses, each of which gives information about a given organ's functioning and the flow of qi through it. Pulses are taken at separate points on the wrists using different types of pressure. Practitioners may also employ eye and tongue diagnosis. Various areas of the eye and tongue are thought to correspond to specific organs.

Biorhythms - Eastern and Western Views: The Western notion of circadian rhythms may be seen as somewhat analogous to TCM ideas of the rhythmic flow of qi. However, Western and Chinese medical explanations for the mere existence of body rhythms are vastly different.

Daily Ritual: To pinpoint a diagnosis, a TCM practitioner may ask you to keep a daily diary recording your symptoms and the times of day at which then tend to occur, reach their greatest severity and subside.

The Organ Clock: According to the yin-yang principle, the 12 organs are divided into two groups: day (yang) and night (yin) organs. The energy clock starts at 3 a.m. in the lungs, when yang begins to increase. Energy remains in each organ for approximately 2 hours, and moves to the next organ along meridian lines.

TIME                         MAXIMUM ENERGY                 ORGAN
3-5am                                    4am                                    lung
5-7am                                    6am                                    large intestine
7-9am                                    8am                                    stomach
9-11am                                  10am                                  spleen
11-1pm                                  12 noon                              heart
1-3pm                                    2pm                                    small intestine
3-5pm                                    4pm                                    urinary bladder
5-7pm                                    6pm                                    kidney
7-9pm                                    8pm                                    pericardium
9-11pm                                  10pm                                  triple warmer
11-1am                                  12 midnight                         gall bladder
1-3 am                                    2am                                    liver


5-7 a.m. — Large Intestine — Drinking water triggers bowel evacuation making room for the new day’s nutritional intake. Removes toxins from the night’s cleansing.

7-9 a.m. — Stomach — Stomach energies are the highest so eat the most important meal of the day here to optimize digestion/assimilation.

9-11 a.m. — Pancreas — The stomach passes its contents on. Enzymes from the pancreas continue the digestive process. Carbohydrate energy made available.

11 a.m.-1 p.m. — Heart — Food materials enter the blood stream. The heart pumps nutrients throughout the system and takes its lipid requirements.

1-3 p.m. — Small Intestine — Foods requiring longer digestion times (proteins) complete their digestion/assimilation.

3-5 p.m. — Bladder — Metabolic wastes from morning’s nutrition intake clear, making room for the kidney’s filtration to come.

5-7 p.m. — Kidney — Filters blood (decides what to keep, what to throw away), maintains proper chemical balance of blood based on nutritional intake of day. Blood to deliver useable nutrients to all tissues.

7-9 p.m. — Circulation — Nutrients are carried to groups of cells (capillaries) and to each individual cell (lymphatics.)

9-11 p.m. — Triple Heater — The endocrine system adjusts the homeostasis of the body based on electrolyte and enzyme replenishment.

11 p.m.- 1 a.m. — Gall Bladder — Initial cleansing of all tissues, processes cholesterol, enhances brain function.

1-3 a.m. — Liver — Cleansing of blood. Processing of wastes.

3-5 a.m. — Lung — Respiration. Oxygenation. Expulsion of waste gasses.

Optimizing Organ Function

The concepts of the organ clock, the five elements and the flow of qi may also be useful in promoting optimal functioning of body systems in daily life.

· The liver's lowest energy point point always falls between 1 and 3 p.m. An afternoon rest at this time may enhance the liver's ability to perform its proper function.

· The traditional diet rule about eating a large breakfast in the morning and less throughout the day is in agreement with the organ clock. According to the clock, the maximum energy level in the stomach occurs 7:00-9:00 in the morning, so this is the best time for the stomach to digest a large meal.

· Mood is connected to the heart system. Mind-body healing techniques, such as yoga and tai chi, relieve anxiety and tension, which is an excess of qi. For optimal effectiveness, they should be performed at the heart's peak time, which is between 11a.m. and 1p.m.

- The other thing that can happen is that if one organ is stressed it affects the energy that is available to the next one on the clock. For example, if you have a few alcoholic drinks late in the evening, the liver has to work extra hard to detoxify. This means that when it comes time for the lungs to be worked on, they will wake you up in the middle in the night, as you will have a harder time uptaking oxygen.


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