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May 18, 2024

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Staying healthy is clockwork in traditional Chinese medicine

THE “Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon,” the earliest text of traditional Chinese medicine, says in Chapter 25 of its first volume that man comes to life through qi (vital life energy) of heaven and earth, and he matures in accordance with the laws of the four seasons.

So, warm springs, hot summers, dry autumns and cold winters all have different influences on human health.

However, in Chapter 44 of its second volume, the book states that one single day may also be divided into four time periods, corresponding to the four seasons of a year. Morning is spring, noon is summer, sunset is autumn and midnight is winter.

It notes that people suffering from various ailments may feel all right in the early morning, spend their day peacefully and then begin suffering at dusk. Nighttime is the worst.

More often than not, traditional Chinese medicine doctors pair the function of human organs with shichen (时辰), a two-hour period in the ancient Chinese timekeeping system.

The current 24-hour day is divided into 12 two-hour periods, and each of them is given the name of one of the 12 terrestrial branches — terms used by ancients to name days, months and years.

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners always advise people that knowledge of the relationship between organs and the two-hour periods in a day helps maintain health and treat diseases.

They stress that zi (子), mao (卯), wu (午) and you (酉) are the four most important two-hour periods in a day.

Zishi (子时), the period between 11pm and 1am, is the time of the gall bladder, from which 11 other major organs receive their directions, according to the “Canon.” It is also the time when the yin (阴) energy in the body fades to its lowest point and the yang (阳) energy begins to rise. Yang energy, which is usually being stored when one is asleep, enables activity during the daytime.

This means that one should go to bed early or at least before 11pm. A later bedtime can result in listlessness, fatigue and a mood of resentment the next day.

During maoshi (卯时), the time between 5am and 7am, the large intestine is “on duty,” making it the right time to have a bowel movement to discharge the previous day’s toxins from the body. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s known as the “door opening” time of day.

It’s also a good time to wash the body and comb the hair. Combing hair in the morning may help remove dandruff, stimulate blood circulation in the head and prevent headache.

Wushi (午时), between 11am and 1pm, is the time of the heart, when yang energy reaches its peak.

“The heart is called the monarch organ because it stores the spirit and forms the foundation of life,” says the “Canon.”

After a whole morning’s activity, midday is good time to eat lunch and take a nap, which not only reduces oxygen consumption and lowers blood pressure, but also helps improve body immunity.

Youshi (酉时), the period between 5pm and 7pm, is the time for the kidneys to filter the blood and work to maintain chemical balance. It’s time to have dinner, but you should stop eating before you are full, otherwise it may disturb your sleep at night.

Known as the “door closing” in traditional Chinese medicine, it’s the time to preserve your kidney essence by taking kidney tonics or massaging the acupuncture points and the meridian related to the organ.

Two more things to do at this time of day: rinse your mouth and bathe your feet in warm water.

Clearly, it’s very important to understand the relationship between your organs and the time periods of a day. One may better preserve health and well-being by following a daily schedule in accordance with the body clock.


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