The TCM Body Clock—How to work with our daily Qi cycle

Essential Takeaway

  • The human body experiences a daily cycle where our Qi (life force energy) cycles through each organ. 
  • These daily Qi fluctuations can give us valuable information about our body's imbalances, and help us plan the ideal healthy day for our body and mind. 
  • The TCM Body Clock helps us tune into this daily energy cycle and offers guidance on how to best work with it. 

Understanding—and optimizing—our daily energetic cycle

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), balance is not static, but rather a dynamic state of fluctuation—represented by the theory of Yin & Yang. To live in harmony is to live in accordance with the Yin & Yang rhythms of nature, and every day is a new opportunity to tune in and deepen our relationship with ourselves. 

Similar to the monthly menstrual cycle or the yearly cycle of the seasons, the human body experiences a daily cycle. According to TCM, our Qi (life force energy) cycles through each organ over the course of a day. When Qi is flowing strongly in a particular organ, that organ is activated and ready to work. 

To help us tune into this daily energy cycle, the TCM Body Clock shows us how each organ aligns with a 2-hour interval of naturally elevated energy and offers guidance on how best to work with it. For example, 7-9 am is ruled by the Stomach. Digestion is at its best, making this the perfect time to have a warm, nourishing breakfast to fuel your day. At the opposite time of day, 7-9 pm, the Stomach is at its weakest. This is why it’s often advised to avoid eating dinner too late.

By aligning our daily activities (as best we can) with the natural flow of our body’s Qi, we’re able to work with our body’s internal processes, making it easier to maintain balance between our body, mind, and spirit—therefore supporting our overall health.

How can you tune in and harmonize with your body’s natural flow of Qi (energy)?

5-7 AM: Waking & Releasing 
Energized Organ: Large Intestine

Tip: Instead of reaching for the coffee, try to start your day with a glass of warm water* to gently wake up the colon. Give your body time to naturally detox with meditation or mindful breathing.
*This is a great time to take your Daily Harmony and/or Cycle Balance.

7-9 AM: Fueling & Warming Up
Energized Organ: Stomach

Tip: Food creates energy; caffeine merely borrows it from ourselves. A warming, hearty breakfast helps create long-lasting energy for the day ahead. Try to avoid cold foods/drinks like smoothies, as cold dampens the digestive fire, making digestion less efficient. 

9-11 AM: Thinking & Working 
Energized Organ: Spleen

Tip: This is a great time to focus on your most mentally taxing work. While your spleen converts food into usable energy, you're better able to use your mental energy.

11AM - 1PM: Eating & Greeting
Energized Organ: Heart

Tip: This is an ideal time to enjoy a light lunch and good conversation—take a break from work or other stressors by grabbing food with a friend. Try to avoid reading, working, or watching tv while eating for optimal digestion.

1-3 PM: Sorting & Organizing
Energized Organ: Small Intestine

Tip: As the body digests lunch, separating nutrients from waste, it’s a good time to focus on more detail-oriented tasks or chores, like filing expenses or washing the dishes.

3-5 PM: Storing & Reserving
Energized Organ: Bladder

Tip: Try to hydrate* during this time with water or tea and a salty snack like nuts or miso soup. It’s also an ideal time to study or prepare for the next day’s work.
*This is a great time to take your Daily Harmony and/or Cycle Balance.

5-7 PM: Nourishing & Replenishing
Energized Organ: Kidney

Tip: After enjoying a light dinner, try some light walking or stretching to support digestion and boost circulation, which helps the kidneys filter more blood during this time.

7-9PM: Self-Care & Intimacy
Energized Organ: Pericardium

Tip: After a long day, you deserve some quality time—alone or with loved ones. Try winding down with a bath, massage or skincare routine, or opt for some screen-free time with your partner. It just so happens to be the best time to conceive ;)

9-11 PM: Relaxing & Rebalancing
Energized Organ: Triple Burner

Tip: As you prepare your body for sleep, try opting for a book instead of your phone or tv, and get cozy in bed even if you don’t plan to fall asleep for a while.

11PM - 1AM: Sleeping & Regenerating
Energized Organ: Gallbladder

Tip: Try your best to be asleep by this time. The gallbladder assists in cellular repair, controlling the length and quality of sleep, digesting fats, and even decision making. If the gallbladder can’t do its job, you might experience aches & pains, weight gain, or indecisiveness. 

1-3 AM: Dreaming & Detoxing
Energized Organ: Liver

Tip: This is an important time to be asleep so that your body can repair and recover as the Liver cleans the blood. The Liver is easily affected by stress and anger; so if you’re waking during this time, it’s a good idea to reflect on any unaddressed resentments.

3-5 AM: Breathing & Oxygenating
Energized Organ: Lungs

Tip: The Lungs correspond to the emotion of grief. If you wake during this time, it might be an indicator of unaddressed sadness. Try a relaxed meditation, gently and evenly inhaling and exhaling.

Looking for more support in maintaining everyday balance?

 Designed to help us harmonize with the undulating rhythm of life, Daily Harmony’s blend of adaptogens (herbs that help the body adapt to stress) and hormone-balancing herbs supports us in maintaining a healthy balance as the world around, and inside of, us constantly changes. 

Plus, when used alongside your personalized Cycle Balance blend, Daily Harmony helps lower inflammation, supports daily hormonal fluctuations, and helps the body recover from and prepare for menstruation.

Save 15% when you buy Daily Harmony & Cycle Balance together, and start feeling your best, every day of the month.

This article was reviewed by Dr. Liem Le.

Dr. Liem Le is a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, Functional Medicine Practitioner, and Nutritionist Integrative Medicine Department at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. He is a part of the teaching staff for the Masters program for the Functional Medicine and Human Nutrition program at University of Western States. Dr. Le is currently working on his fellowship in Integrative Medicine with the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine via a scholarship from the White House to complete the initiative.

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