The organ clock is the coolest thing.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the organ clock maps out the time of the day each organ is active, in control.
If we were a bus, a different organ drives for two hours at a time. This is when the qi moves through one of these 12 meridians.
One meridian-organ of a yin-yang pair is the most energetic during this two-hour window, with maximum energy mid-point and minimum energy 12 hours after.
This partly accounts for the natural rhythm of energy – low and high – in the 24-hour cycle, with energy going inward during sleep and then moving outward again. This is basically a repair/maintenance schedule.
By organ, we mean organ system – both energetically and physically the organ and all its associations. The yin organs – liver, heart, spleen, lungs, and kidneys – produce, transform, regulate, and store qi, blood, and fluids. The yang organs – gall bladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, bladder, and triple burner – digest and transport nutrients. Everything is interconnected – each meridian-organ system is related to a season, emotion, element, taste, sense…
Because of this delicious web, we have many clues to suss out the root of an imbalance. The organ clock is also a good working blueprint to optimize our well-being strategies. We can strengthen our constitution by bolstering the “weakest” link – our vulnerabilities and susceptibilities.
Are you waking up at 3.30am? Or is 7.30pm especially drag-y for you? Maybe your back pain gets sharp around a certain time? Take a look below to check out what may be going on, according to the organ clock.
What time zone is your organ clock running? Ideally – where you are geographically. Jet lag is partially from the confusion between where you are physically and where your organ clock is still operating from. Jet lag help – hold each of your fingers on the flight and try the Nutripuncture Jet Lag sequence.
The Meridian-Organ Clock
3-5am Lung – Yin
Physical Role: Oxygenation + Respiration
Energetic Role: Moves qi through the meridians and body
Emotions – Balanced Letting go | Imbalanced Excessive grief + sadness plus uninspired
Physical Imbalances Feeling weak, asthma, coughing, wheezing
Tips Sleep with windows open for fresh air, unless it creates too much cold over the head; take deep exhales to cleanse out old air, and let in fresh air.
If you are waking up between 3 and 5am, look to see if you are suppressing any deep sadness. Maybe you need a good cry. This is also the time when toxic waste is loosened inside your lungs. Cough when you first get up? Time to adjust your lifestyle.
5-7am Large Intestine – Yang
Physical Role Absorbs fluids and eliminates impure food
Energetic Role Generates grief so we can let go + move on
Emotions Balanced Letting go | Imbalanced Guilty + defensiveness
Physical Imbalances Skin rash, dry stool, constipation
Tip: Warm water with lemon first thing in the morning helps to trigger a bowel movement to remove the toxins from the cleansing of the prior night.
The Large Instestine is about letting go – physically, emotionally, mentally.. Help the body by sipping warm water with lemon upon waking. This is also the best time for a bowel movement. Love your coffee? Wait until after 7am. Caffeine, being a diuretic, is not doing your colon any favors. Instead flush your system with water first thing in the morning.
7-9am Stomach – Yang
Season Late Summer
Physical Role Digestion and breakdown of food
Energetic Role Digestion and breakdown of thoughts and emotions
Emotions – Balanced Grounded + mental clarity | Imbalanced Despair + disgust
Physical Imbalances Acid reflux, bad breath, ulcer, low appetite
Tips ST-12 for stomach aches. Look for the hollow in the collarbones. ST-12 is in line with the nipple.
Have a good breakfast during this time to maximize both digestion and assimilation.
When the Stomach meridian is imbalanced, you may feel extra sensitive or you may be overworking.
9-11am Spleen – Yin
Season Late Summer
Physical Role Absorbs nutrients + transport food
Energetic Role Energy storehouse + Rhythm regulator
Emotions Balanced Trusting + Honest | Imbalanced Over-worry, over-think, obsessive
Physical Imbalances Loose stools, craving sweets, lack of energy, bloating after eating.
Tips Relax the brain – bath, quiet time, meditation, warming tea.
Try the Jin Shin Jyutsu Spleen Flow for revitalization. The quick self-help for this flow is one hand on the tail bone and the other hand on the inside of the ankle (e.g. left hand on left ankle).
A light snack may be helpful. Cinnamon, yam, dates, and lentils nourish the spleen.
In TCM, the spleen is the organ. It is the energy storehouse. Being in perpetual late summer heat in cities like Singapore can easily overtax the spleen. Be sure to nourish this organ system.
11am – 1pm Heart – Yin
Physical Role Turns food energy into blood which it sends to other organs; regulates the heart and blood vessels
Energetic Role Houses thoughts + intentions plus balances emotions
Emotions – Balanced Joy, love, excitement | Imbalanced Sadness, impulsive + lack of enthusiasm
Physical Imbalances Cold hands + feet, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, difficulty sleeping, poor memory
Tips Cayenne, mung beans, and papaya are good for the heart
The heart meridian connects with the tongue and speech problems may link back to blockages here.
Physical and emotional heat is something the heart does not like – avoid anything that raises the blood pressure (caffeine, stress, hardcore exercise). What makes the heart stronger? Tapping into your true desires and being joyful.
1-3pm Small Intestine – Yang
Physical Role Separates the fluids and moves them into either the bladder or large intestine
Energetic Role Discernment, good judgment
Emotions – Balanced Joy, love, excitement | Imbalanced Insecure + Vulnerable
Physical Imbalances Bloating with vomiting or gas, pain in the testes
Tips Sleep with windows open for fresh air, unless it creates too much cold over the he
Make whatever you are eating between 1 and 3pm count. Opt for a fulfilling and nutritious meal. Whole foods is best but if you are taking supplements, this is a good time to maximum their absorption.
Feeling parched? This is a sign that your water intake is too low.
Note that the small intestine, which is about judgement and making choices, follow the heart. Once we know our true desires, decisions are easy.
3-5pm Bladder – Yang
Physical Role Stores and secretes urine
Energetic Role Moves qi through the meridians and body
Emotions – Balanced Serenity + Wisdom | Imbalanced Irrational fear, suspicious, indecisive, jealous + timid
Physical Imbalances Yeast infection, urinary incontinence, burning when urinating, pain in the eyes
Tips Drink up! Broth with sea or Himalayan salt is nourishing.
If dehydrated, you may feel a dip in energy levels. If you are not eliminating often enough, this is a sign you are not drinking enough water. Warm water with lemon is always great.
5-7pm Kidneys -Yin
Physical Role Filters the blood; produces marrow
Energetic Role Stores our jing, inherited from our parents; houses will power, courage, and sexual potency
Emotions – Balanced Serenity, Wisdom | Imbalanced Feeling insecure, lonely, fearful
Physical Imbalances Sexual difficulties, low libido, poor memory, lower back pain, premature graying of hair, sore knees
Tips Black sesame seeds, celery, duck, grapes, kidney beans, raspberries, salt, seaweed, strawberries, walnuts, and tangerines are good for the kidneys. Go for a back massage!
Healthy kidneys = healthy development, growth, and reproduction
Not springing out of bed between 5-7am? That’s when the kidneys the weakest and lethargy can be another sign of depleted kidneys, which are related to the adrenals.
Physical Role Physical and emotional protector of the heart
Energetic Role Protector of emotions
Emotions – Balanced Benevolent, kind-hearted + joyful | Imbalanced Difficulty in expressing emotion, depleted
Physical Imbalances Arrhythmia, hiccups
Tips Strengthen the pericardium with joyful and loving self-expression
This fluid-filled sac physically protects the heart from excessive expansion. It also protects the heart from the excessive emotions from the other organs (grief from the lungs, anger from the liver, and fear from the kidneys).
This is the time to prep for sleep – try meditation or light reading.
9-11pm Triple Burner – Yang
Physical Role Related to water metabolism and networking in the body.
Energetic Role Survival mechanism
Emotions – Balanced Benevolent, kind-hearted + joyful | Imbalanced Hopelessness, paranoid, confused
Physical Imbalances Headaches
Tips Sleep! Feeling stressed? Do this – take a deep breath, place your palms on your temples and as you exhale, move them behind the ear, down the the sides of the neck, and hold the shoulders. With another deep breath, dig into your shoulders. Exhale and shake it off.
The triple warmer, an accessory organ system, is made of three parts – the thorax which controls intake, the abdomen which controls transformation, and the pelvis which controls elimination. It is related to warmth, water metabolism, and networking in the body. Being the survival mechanism, the triple warmer pulls energy from other organ systems in response to “invaders”, thereby lowering the body’s overall functioning. The spleen (“mother”) sits across from the triple warmer (“father”) so it is primarily from the spleen, the body’s energy storehouse, that the energy is pulled from.
As most people chronically stressed, it is very important to protect the triple warmer and look at ways to reduce stress levels. We can also rewire our programming to recognize anxiety not as a threat.
As the triple warmer governs blood vessels, headaches may present due to the blood vessels needing heavy repair. Rest well.
11pm-1am Gall Bladder – Yang
Physical Role Store and release bile for the digestion of fats + oils
Energetic Role Courage and confidence for decision-making and making changes, move emotion
Emotions – Balanced Anger | Imbalanced Resentful, depressed + bitter
Physical Imbalances Weak ankles, dizziness, hip or sciatica pain
Tips Ho’oponopono + gratitude practices help with letting go of resentment.
Deficient gall bladder energy is related to poor sleep and insufficient sleep depletes energy reserves, which chips away at self-esteem, judgment, and the digestion of fat.
1-3am Liver – Yin
Physical Role Cleanses the blood
Emotions – Balanced Anger | Imbalanced Irritability, explosive anger + frustration
Physical Imbalances Chronic fatigue, anemia, headache, muscle spasms, eye problems
Tips Liver flush, stress release, relaxation
“Nails are the remains of the tendons”
The liver controls tendons, which rely on liver blood. The degree of dryness is a good sign of sufficient liver blood flow.
Vomiting during this time may indicate an overtaxed liver. Take a break from alcohol and fatty foods and enjoy a liver flush.
Sleep at this time is important, especially for women as the liver stores the blood for menstruation; otherwise the body becomes deficient.
When the liver is at its strongest, the small intestine is at its weakest – this is why sometimes late meals can keep you up.