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A Traditional Chinese Daily Health Regimen by Using 12 Divisions of a day

by ZHONGKE USA on October 24, 2011

Source from:
Author: Ms. Li-Min, Qu, , the associate professor of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine
Translated By  Zhongke
All Translation Right Reserved 
In traditional Chinese medicine theory, experiencing four seasons a year is not the only complete nature’s cycle. Another cycle that is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory that corresponds to the seasonal cycle is the 24-hours-a-day cycle. As a result of dividing a day into 12 two-hour periods in keeping fit the ancient times, this daily regime has been termed by an ancient herbal specialist, You-Cheng of the Qing Dynasty, as “Using 12 two-hour Periods to Prevent Diseases”.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory believes that one’s Jing Qi (internal energy, or internal energy from each vessel and collateral) is just like tidal waters, it flows along with time, with undulation at each vital energy passage (blood vessels and collaterals), and being “on duty” at every two-hour period. If we are able to follow the ways of internal energy changes, as well as developing different methods to keep fit, we will be able to achieve a positive healthy result. The 12 two-hour periods are named as the period of Zi, Chou, Yin, Mao, Chen, Yi, Wu, Wei, Shen, You, Wu, Hai,

Zi Period ( 11:00p.m. to 1:00a.m.) : When gall bladder channels on duty

Zi Period means the period of the day from 11pm to 1am, and this period is the time when the Gall Bladder Channel 1 is in control. Being “in control” also means being “on duty”.

There is a peculiar tendency that happens to people daily especially after dinner, at approximately 8or 9 p.m., when they start feeling sleepy. However, as 11p.m. arrives, people no longer feel drowsy and suddenly become very awake, and this is why many people have the habit of working (studying for exams, working late) after 11p.m. There are even some who start getting hunger pangs at around 11pm and they would proceed on searching the house for snacks. Why does this happen? It is exactly at this period when the Yang 2 in the gall bladder starts to develop, and this is why it is important to keep this principle in mind: go to bed before 11.p.m. This way, we can gradually develop better chances at prolonging and maintaining a healthier life because the relationship between sleeping well and longevity is very strong; therefore, sleeping better would develop a better Yang.

Zi Period is also the period of the day when it is the darkest and that is when the Yang starts developing according to TCM philosophy. In “Huangdi (a legendary ruler) Classic Dictionary”, there is a sentence saying “The gall (system) controls the activities of the other 10 internal organs”; Hinging on the growth of the gall, the energy from the gall channel will develop too, thus, causing the body’s vital energy and blood to rise together with the gall system. It is essential to one’s day to develop good sleeping habits by going to bed during this period.

*In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin yang is used to describe how seemingly disjunctive or opposing forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, giving rise to each other in turn. The concept lies at the heart of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine,[1] and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhang, taijiquan, and qigong. Many natural dualities – e.g. dark and light, female and male, low and high – are cast in Chinese thought as yin yang.

*Refers to blood vessels and collaterals in traditional Chinese medicine. It refers to blood circling inside one’s body. A vertical line can be called “?Jing” and a
horizontal can be called “?Luo”.

Chou Period (1:00 a.m. to 3:00a.m): When liver channels on duty

The Chou Period indicates the time between 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. The liver channel is on duty during this period. It is important to sleep well during this period if not, one would not be able to keep one’s liver healthy.

In the Chou Period, it is the turn for the Yang in the liver to grow. What is the Chou Period like? From the Chinese character of the word Chou (?), it looks as if one’s hands are being bounded and drawn in, and it means that even when the liver’s Yang is developing, you still need a little restraint; it also signifies a rise and fall action that is controlled by the liver. In order to maintain a good liver constitution (or keep a healthy liver blood supply function), one has to sleep well between 1: a.m. to 3:00 a.m.

Usually when people always wakes up during this period of time, Chinese medical doctor will suggest cleansing your liver so as to calm you down and sleep better.

Yin Period (3:00a.m. to 5:00a.m): When lung channels on duty

The Yin Period indicates the time between 5:00a.m., when the lung channels are on duty. This period is a process of body flowing switch; in other words, body flows being quiet switch to being active, and it requires deep sleep. The time people in deep sleep are usually from 3:00a.m. to 5:00a.m, and this period is exactly the time when a person’s body’s vital energy and blood switch from being clam to being active. This process requires our bodies to be in very deep sleep for it to be fully completed. Here, SWITCH is exactly a process of internal body natural purifying or transforming.

It is better for older people, whose heart functions are not as good as younger people, not to get up too early in the morning, nor to work out but instead, to get out of bed slowly and later than others. Evening is the time when Yin energy is spooky, or hazy, that one may move around to shake off the hazy. However, the morning is when the Yang energy grows and develops; therefore, it is a best to let the nature takes its course.

Mao Period (5:00a.m. to 7:00a.m.): When the large intestine channels on duty

The Mao Period is the time between 5:00a.m. to7:00a.m.”, so, it is normal for people to wake up at 5:00a.m. During this period, the large intestine is on duty, and the sky is getting brighter, and the body flow is opening its “door” that usually we will move our bowels in order to excrete waste and toxins from our bodies. This period represents the opening of body Earth’s Door, in other words, the opening of the anus, and that is why we should develop the habit of moving our bowels in the morning. If there is a difficulty in defecating, one should try to hold a breath instead of grasping fists.

Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy believes that the lungs system and the large intestines are working as a commander to soldiers, when lungs system is energetically stronger, then one’s defecation will be smooth.

Chen Period (7:00a.m. to 9:00a.m.): When the stomach channels on duty

The Chen Period is from 7:00a.m. to 9:00a.m., when the stomach channels are on duty. The stomach channel is a long passage at the front of the human body through which vital energy circulates in TCM anatomy. Stomach ache, in TCM philosophy is considered a disorder at the stomach channel; Knee pain is also considered a problem from stomach channel; same as the instep pains. These pains come from the places where the regular channels of the stomach are locating.

Eating breakfast during this period helps to replenish the nutrients in our bodies. This is also the time that Yang with its highest energy between the heaven and the earth, thus, taking breakfast during this period will get a better digestion, even a large breakfast will not make a person gains weight, because the spleen and the stomach channels are at their most active processing, which makes metabolism more active too. There is a Chinese saying that refers to eating breakfast being like the “rains at spring is as precious as oil”. Therefore, one should have a best and hearty breakfast like a king does.

Si Period (9:00a.m. to 11:00a.m.): When spleen channels on duty

The Si Period refers to the time between 9am to 11am and is also the period when the spleen channels are on duty. The spleen is the main key in aiding digestion because the breakfast taken in the Chen Period will begin undergoing the process of digestion in this period. Our stomach is like a cooking pot; when we eat, the food goes into our stomachs, just like how one would put food into the pot to cook. How does the food get digested then? Using the same analogy, one needs “fire” to “cook” the food in stomach, thus the “fire” here refers to the spleen in your body. Digestion relies on the spleen to slowly “cook” the food in the stomach.

What is the spleen channel then? The Chinese character of spleen“Pi”is spelled with two parts, and the character on the right “Bi” is just like a young maid in ancient times standing by the fire and tending to it by adding firewood and all. In the internal organs, the spleen is like that young maid busy tending the fire, but if she (it) falls sick, other internal organs will become very uncomfortable, and may get a so-called “Rich Man’s disease” (due to eating too much junk food) such as diabetes, etc. If one’s body appears to be losing weight and becoming skinny, or starts salivating uncontrollably, or feeling muscles tightly turgid and gaining weight, etc., are all considered lienopathia which is caused by the disorders of spleen channel in TCM philosophy.

Wu Period (11:00a.m. to 1:00 p. m.?: Heart channels are on duty

The Wu Period lasts from 11:00a.m. to1:00 p. m and here is where the heart channels are on duty. The energy transforming point between the heaven and the earth usually happens at Zi Period and Wu Period, so, human body has to be aware of this point.

To an ordinary person, sleeping during the Zi period and the Wu period are very important. Sleeping at 11:00p.m and taking a nap after lunch, even if it is just a short break with eyes closed, will be beneficial to a healthy body. Why? As the earth’s energy is transferring at these two periods, it is the best in TCM philosophy that we‘d better not stir its process because humans do not have the ability to disturb the earth’s Chi (energy). What should we do then? Just take a rest, so as to meet all changes by remaining calm. Therefore sleeping during these two periods is beneficial to human body.

Wei Period (between 1:00p.m to 3:00p.m): Small Intestine channels on duty

Wei Period is the time between 1:00p.m to 3:00p.m in which the small intestine channels are on duty. The small intestine is mainly in charge of absorption of nutrients (after digestion). Its ability is to absorb the nutrients from the food that has been decomposed by spleen and stomach, and then distribute the nutrients to the rest of the organs. Eating a good lunch, which is full of enriching nutrients, should be advised.

The heart and the small intestine are interacted with each other, which act mostly like “thinking and acting”, or Yang & Ying; When the Yang starts having problems, the Yin will also develop problems and vice versa. TCM thinks that heart diseases in the early stages more likely have symptoms that interactively occur on the small intestine channels. This is hard for western doctor to understand. But if you keep an eye on it, you will notice that some patients, who were feeling chests tightening and hearts palpitating around two p.m. in the afternoon, could not find anything wrong with their hearts by doctors at hospital. The reason is because the small intestine belongs to the Yang (energy), which stands on the external. When the sensitive areas on the outside start presenting problems, the internal interactive area where the heart is, will also reflect its disorder.

Shen Period (from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.): Bladder channels on duty

This is the period from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. when the bladder channels are on duty. The bladder channel starts from the back of the foot and leads to the back of the calves, to the middle of both sides of the spinal column, and up to the brain, which is a long and large passage of vital energy that flows through.

For example, if one complains pains in the calves that could be a problem with the bladder channels, which is also called “Yang” deficiency. Yang deficiency means lack of vital energy to motivate your body. When there is pain at the back of the head, even deteriorating memory, it could be also because of bladders channels in disorder, which means the Yang deficiency in our bodies cannot propel the vital energy (Qi) and blood to the upper part of the body (head) to keep your brain nourished; therefore, the symptoms of deteriorating memory would show up. If one feels especially sleepy during the Shen Period, it would signify the deficiency of the Yang (Qi) energy.

You Period (from 5pm to 7pm): Kidney channels on duty

This period lasts from 5pm to 7pm where the kidney channels take the lead. The kidney system (channel) is the main storage of essential vital energy “Jing”. What is vital energy “Jing”? To human beings, vital energy “Jing” is just like saving money in the pocket, and buys anything you need. If any problem occurs in the structure of cells, this kidney vital energy “Jing” will “liquidate” or help recreate the cells. Vital energy (in the kidney) is the most “creative” essential power in human body. When one’s energy is nourished and regulated, the energy will be able to help recreate anything that the body naturally requires. For example, if there is a lack of red blood cells in the body, this vital energy will help to “liquidate” red blood cells to meet the lack of it.

From another point of view, since vitality “Jing” is stored in the kidney, vitality is already inherent in our bodies, which is the phrase, “a breath of life”, or “as long as there is a breath left in me…” This is also why when Chinese people reach to a certain age in life, they would start going into details about nourishing the kidney system, and each body has its own natural regulated flowing system; if the kidney channel cannot flow normally, the vital energy will not “liquidate” to support the body no matter how much nourishments one takes; nourishing the kidney vital channel depend on how strong one’s digestion system is.

According to TCM philosophy, well-nourished kidney energy could tell how strong one’s ambitions are. For instance, an older person usually does not have high or deep ambitions for a new and tough business due to their aged kidney system (low vital energy); however, a young person with a stronger kidney system (high vital energy), will have high, or deep ambitions for a tough and new business. Therefore, if one wants to accomplish big endeavors in life, one has to start with protecting and nourishing the kidney system, which means to build a better vital energy in your body.

Please be advised that to build a better vital energy cannot rely on any Viagra, but
rely on one ‘s daily food, Viagra can do nothing to your internal energy but to
overdraw your vital energy. That is why TCM philosophy always suggests the youth
to hold “Jing” for your life, in other words, not to make excessive love in your life so
as to live longer.

Xu Period( from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm)  : Pericardium channels are on duty

This period is between 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm when the pericardium channels are “on duty”. The pericardium is a double-walled sac that contains the heart and the roots of the great vessels, and its main purpose is to protect the cardiac muscle’s normal activities. People should start preparing to enter sleep or to enter a light sleeping condition during this period.

The heart does not receive any direct bad particles from the body, so what does? It is the pericardium that receives any bad particles. When people start to notice that their heart is giving them problems, it is usually concluded that there are problems with the pericardium channels. When you suddenly start feeling your heart beating rapidly, it means that the pericardium has received some abnormalities. First, it might only be the heart beating a little fast, but problems would later follow deeper into the pericardium channels towards the heart. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the principle of first treating/maintaining the regular activities of the internal vital organs (heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and kidneys) to the other organs (small intestine, gall, stomach, large intestine, bladder, and the three visceral cavities), therefore, once you understand how vital energy works then will you be able to treat related diseases.

The pericardium channels are happy to be “on duty”, therefore, people should have a little bit of fun during this Xu Period.

Hai Period(9:00p.m to 11:00p.m): Three visceral cavities channels in control

This period lasts between 9:00p.m to 11:00p.m and it is in the “hands” of the three visceral cavities channels. (The three visceral cavities housing internal organs: bladder, large intestine and small intestine, which is laso called Six Fu). The three visceral cavities are located in an area where the fatty membranes that join together the five ( zang) internal organs to the other six( fu ) hollow organs (listed in the previous section). The energy in the visceral cavities has to flow smoothly, if not, one can easily fall sick.

The Hai Period’s sign of the Chinese zodiac is the Pig, and pigs eat and sleep all the time. Therefore, we have to rest during this period in order to allow our bodies and souls to immerse in the darkness, and to allow our lives and bodies to recover during sleep.

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