What the Chinese Medicine Clock Can Tell You about Your Health
You are likely familiar with your body clock, or your circadian rhythm. This internal clock regulates your sleep/wake cycle, as well as processes like eating and body temperature.1
While looking at our circadian rhythm can explain why we may feel tired, hungry, or energized at certain times, there is another clock that can provide even more insight into our health: the Chinese medicine clock.
What is the Chinese medicine clock?
Also known as the Horary clock or meridian clock, the Chinese medicine clock shows which traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) meridians have the most qi flowing through them during certain periods of the day. Qi, or chi, is defined as the body’s life force, or vital energy. So in other words, the Chinese medicine clock shows which meridians and their associated organs and emotions are most energetically active at specific times of the day.
During the 24-hour period of each day, each of the 12 TCM meridians in turn carries a larger quantity of chi. The Horary clock is a 24-hour clock. The meridian corresponding to the current 2-hour period will have the most chi, while the meridian on the opposite side of the clock will be less active because it contains less chi.
What can this clock tell you?
Patterns of pain, interruptions of sleep, or general discomfort often occur at the same time each day. In these instances, it’s helpful to consult the Chinese Medicine clock to see what meridians correspond with the problem. It may be the meridian carrying the larger quantity of chi because it is weak and lacks the vigor required, or it may be the opposite meridian as the result of its deficiency of chi.
Below is a brief summary that explains how each segment of the Chinese medicine clock may affect your health, and provides some tips for ensuring that these meridians function optimally throughout the day.
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Heart Meridian
Sister Meridian: Small Intestine
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Gallbladder
The heart meridian is most active during the midday hours. If you have heart problems, they may manifest more strongly during this time of day. You may also experience other related symptoms such as palpitations and agitation.
The emotions that are energetically connected to the heart meridian may be experienced at this time as well. These emotions include greed, grief, hate, and anxiety. On the flip side, the heart meridian is also associated with laughter and enthusiasm. Socializing with friends and eating lunch is recommended during this time to accentuate these emotions.
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Small Intestine Meridian
Sister Meridian: Heart
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Liver
The small intestine meridian is important in the digestion process, so it makes sense that it kicks into high gear after lunch. If you feel bloated, tired, or experience symptoms such as pain in the lower abdomen or a sore throat during this period, you may have an issue with this meridian.
Similar to the heart meridian, you may also experience an excess of greed, grief, and hate during these hours. Other emotions related to the small intestine that may be more noticeable at this time include shame and insecurity.
To improve the function of the small intestine meridian when it’s most active, make sure not to eat too much for lunch so your food can be absorbed properly. A lighter lunch can greatly reduce any bloat or tiredness you feel in the afternoon.
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Urinary Bladder Meridian
Sister Meridian: Kidney
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Lung
During the late afternoon hours, more chi flows through the urinary bladder meridian, which includes the bladder and kidneys. Being dehydrated, bloated, or crashing during this time are symptoms that this meridian isn’t functioning properly.
The emotion most closely connected to the urinary bladder meridian is fear, so being more fearful at this time is also a symptom of imbalance.2 Other emotions related to the urinary bladder organ specifically are guilt, blame, and exhaustion.
To avoid a crash or dehydration, limit your caffeine intake and drink more pure water during the day. Drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water is a good place to start. Just make sure to increase your intake slowly.
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Kidney Meridian
Sister Meridian: Urinary Bladder
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Large Intestine
Along with the kidneys, the kidney meridian is also energetically connected to the adrenals. If you feel especially fatigued at this time or experience low back pain, there may be an imbalance in this meridian. Emotionally, feelings of blame, guilt, and fear may also surface during these hours.
Since your kidneys store energy that gets used throughout the day, the early evening hours are the optimal time to eat a nourishing dinner and relax. Eating a nourishing breakfast and lunch will also put this meridian in a better position to filter and maintain the chemical balance of blood in the body.
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – Pericardium Meridian
Sister Meridian: Triple Warmer
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Stomach
As more qi flows through the pericardium meridian during the evening hours, circulation increases and nutrients are carried to the body’s cells. If you have poor circulation, it may become worse at this time. Palpitations and headaches may also occur if this meridian is out of balance. Emotionally, feelings of greed and grief may surface as well.
Endocrine organs such as the pituitary, hypothalamus, and reproductive organs are also strongly connected to the pericardium meridian. This makes these two hours a great time to socialize with loved ones. It’s also said to be the best time to have sex.
9:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. – Triple Warmer (San Jiao) Meridian
Sister Meridian: Pericardium
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Spleen
The triple warmer meridian is heavily involved with the endocrine system, playing a large role in our stress response and metabolic balancing. As such, symptoms of adrenal and thyroid deficiency such as fatigue and headaches may be more pronounced at this time. You may also feel an excess of fear, greed, grief, and confusion.
As the endocrine system kicks in to control homeostasis in the body, it’s important to relax during this time leading up to bed. You should also go to sleep during this period so that the blood in your liver can cool down from the day’s activities. Of course, you should avoid eating after 9:00 p.m. as well.
11:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. – Gallbladder Meridian
Sister Meridian: Liver
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Heart
As energy flow in the gallbladder meridian increases, the body begins processing cholesterol, cleansing body tissue, and enhancing brain function. This is also the time when the liver begins to purge toxins. Any gallbladder issues you have may manifest at this time. Ringing in the ears, dizziness, and jaundice may also be related to issues with this meridian.
Also connected to the gallbladder are the emotions of anger, complacency, and frustration. To help balance out these emotions as well as any physical issues, it’s important to be asleep by 11:00 p.m. In addition, you should also avoid strenuous activity before bedtime. Sleep during these hours is critical because it’s when the liver starts to cleanse toxins and the body begins to repair your cells.
1:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m. – Liver Meridian
Sister Meridian: Gallbladder
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Heart
During the night hours of 1:00 to 3:00, the liver begins cleansing the blood and processing waste. If you wake up often at these hours, you may be over-taxing your liver during the day with too much stress and/or a poor diet. It’s also no surprise that those who drink often or do drugs often wake at this time.
Anger, frustration, and resentment are closely connected to the liver meridian. So waking up during this time may mean that you are holding onto these emotions.3 Night owls who don’t go to bed until after midnight often develop an imbalance in this meridian and don’t experience the restorative power that a thorough cleansing of the blood can bring.
3:00 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. – Lung Meridian
Sister Meridian: Large Intestine
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Urinary Bladder
In addition to controlling our breathing, the lung meridian assists with immune defense and circulating qi throughout the body. Thus, waking up during these hours could mean you have an issue with lung function, are sick, or have an autoimmune problem. It could also mean that your body is having problems processing the related emotions of grief and sadness.
Getting clean air and staying hydrated throughout the day are important for maintaining balance in this meridian. Deep breathing exercises can greatly benefit the lungs as well. And if you have phlegm or tend to cough when you wake up, you may want to consider reducing dairy and other mucous-promoting foods in your diet.
5:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m. – Large Intestine Meridian
Sister Meridian: Lung
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Kidney
The large intestine meridian is responsible for transforming waste from liquid to solid form and excreting it through the bowels. Waking with abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea is a sign that this meridian is out of whack. You may also feel excessive grief, fear, or guilt upon waking if this meridian is out of balance.
While it may seem too early for some, the early morning hours are the optimal time to wake up. If you get to bed by 10:00 p.m. as you should, you can still wake up around 6:00 a.m. with a full 8 hours of sleep.
Due to the extra flow of qi, having a bowel movement during this period is ideal. Drinking a warm glass of lemon juice after waking will stimulate your bowels and get your lymph moving. This is also a great time to meditate to release any negative emotions and get ready for the day.
7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. – Stomach Meridian
Sister Meridian: Spleen
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Pericardium
You’ve likely heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This makes sense because breakfast is the time when the stomach meridian is most energetically active. When this meridian is unbalanced, stomach problems, leg pain, leg cramping, and a sore throat may occur.
The emotions most closely connected to the stomach meridian are hate and despair. Along with helping to soothe these emotions, a warm, nutritious breakfast helps keep your body energized throughout the day. And because your body has optimal digestion and assimilation during these hours, making breakfast your biggest meal of the day is recommended.
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Spleen Meridian
Sister Meridian: Stomach
Opposite Meridian (least qi): Triple Warmer
The sister meridian of the stomach, the spleen meridian helps the body turn food into energy and control fluid balance throughout the body. Problems with the spleen meridian can cause sluggishness, allergies, and stomach discomfort, and any issues with the pancreas may manifest as well. Interestingly, this is also the most common time to have a heart attack because an imbalanced spleen may be unable to feed the required energy into the heart.4
While your spleen is highly active and busy processing food to qi, you will likely be better able to think clearly and expend mental energy at this time. In addition to being the ideal time to do work, keeping your mind active at this time will also help you process the connected emotions of hate, worry, and low self-esteem.
ZYTO and the Chinese medicine clock
In addition to looking at the common symptoms associated with each segment of the Chinese medicine clock, ZYTO technology can provide insight into each portion of this clock to help determine which areas may be out of balance.
In the Select and Elite software, digital signatures representing each segment of this clock can be scanned, and you will be able to see whether they are energetically in range or out of range. Additionally, the Balance, Select, and Elite can scan the TCM Meridians in general without the association to each time period.
1.. Aschoff, Jurgen. “Circadian Rhythms in Man.” Science 148, no. 3676 (1965).
2.. Gumenick, Neil R. “The Urinary Bladder Official.” The Institute of Classical Five-Element Acupuncture Inc. 5elements.com.
3.. “The connection between sleep and the liver.” 2020 Naturmend. Naturmend.com.
4.. “Triple Warmer Meridian Symptoms.” MindBodyTarot.com. Mindbodytarot.com.