02.07.2021 Eastern Healing

Modern science backs ‘the Chinese clock’

Nobel Prize winning research supports ancient Chinese awareness of the body clock, says Olivier LeJus

I recently discovered that last year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine had been awarded for discoveries on the molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythms in the body. The winning American team of scientists demonstrated how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronised with the earth’s daily revolutions.

The fluctuation of the moon has long been associated with changes in human behaviour, ranging from rates of criminal behaviour to dramatically greater emotional disturbance in psychiatric patients during the full moon.

Some medical studies have also shown that the lunar cycle has an impact on human reproduction, especially fertility, menstruation, and birth rate.

While many controversial theories had been advanced to explain this phenomenon, ranging from the influence of the moon on the ocean and the fluids in the human body, to the electrical charge of positive and negative ions in the air during the full moon, the Nobel Prize winning research was the first time it had been so scientifically demonstrated.

The daily cyclical variations of diurnal and nocturnal energy have long been a fundamental principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

According to the concept of “the Chinese clock”, the amount of Yin and Yang energy in the body continually fluctuates. One rises while the other declines, and vice versa.

Daytime is Yang, and nighttime is Yin. Midday is when the yang energy reaches its peak, while midnight represents the time when the Yin energy is at its strongest.After midnight, the Yin energy start to decline, as the Yang energy gradually begins to rise until it reaches its peak at midday. The time of maximum Yang coincides with the apex of the sun in the sky.After that point, the Yang energy starts to decline, while the Yin energy simultaneously increases until it reaches its peak at midnight, and so on.

During a 24 hour period each of the 12 organs has its own two hour period of tidal energy when its efficiency is strongest, and a second one, exactly 12 hours later, when it is at its weakest.

For instance, from 1am to the 3am as the Yang energy starts to grow, the liver becomes active. It performs its function of cleansing the blood, and preparing the body for the daily activities. The lung organ follows up from 3am to 5am, then the large intestine from 5am to 7am, the stomach from 7am to 9am, the spleen from 9am to 11am, and finally the heart from 11am to 1pm.

In the afternoon, the Yang begins to decline with Yin gradually rises. From 1pm to 3 pm, the small intestine becomes active, followed by the bladder, the kidney, the pericardium, the San Jiao and the gallbladder from 11pm to 1 am.

On a practical basis the Chinese clock provides very useful diagnostic information to the practitioner.

A symptom occurring at the same tine on a regular basis will often indicate a dysfunction in the organ associated with that time frame.

As an example, in the case of sleeplessness, someone who wakes up between 1am and 3am will often exhibit other signs or symptoms of liver disharmony such as irritability, period pain, temporal headaches, or inability to digest rich foods.

Following the same principle, for optimum results, a patient suffering from digestive problems could be treated with stomach points when that meridian is at its peak between 7am and 9am.

This concept also gives a useful framework to organise our daily activities when our organs are functioning the most efficiently.

Since the lung organ is at its best early in the morning, aerobic activities should preferably be performed at that time. The large intestine, which follows straight after, also performs its elimination duties much better in the morning. The stomach, our main organ of digestion, has a peak time of operation between 7am to 9am – this explains why breakfast is so important, to allow the body to process energy efficiently for the day ahead.

Later, in the early evening(between 5pm and 7pm), the kidney organ is at its optimum. Its connection with the adrenal gland, and the production of energy gives us a second boost of energy before mealtime.When our kidneys are deficient, we often feel a sudden feeling of exhaustion around that time, but we also struggle to get out of bed 12 hours later (between 5am and 7am) when the kidney is at its weakest level.

Finally, the period between 1am to 3am is liver time, which explains the concept of a light meal early in the evening that allows that organ to accomplish its cleansing job efficiently before wake up time. This explains why, after a celebratory dinner, our sleep in the early hours is often compromised.

As our Nobel Prize winners demonstrated last year, all living organisms have always naturally adapted to their external environment. It is a message worth remembering now before it’s too late, since it is probably the key to our long term health and wellbeing.

Olivier Lejus

Olivier Lejus BHSc.MHSc. is a registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist practising in Sydney. A former casual university lecturer and tutor in Oriental medicine with over 15 years experience in clinical practice, Olivier specialises in Japanese- style acupuncture for the treatment of male and female infertility, migraine, pain, and insomnia.www.olejusacupuncture.com