Understanding the Nutrient Qi Cycle
Ever wonder why some physical complaints seem to pop up at a certain time?
Understanding the Nutrient Qi Cycle or Cycle of Tides might be helpful.
Qi (pronounced “chee”), a key concept in Chinese medicine, is as immaterial as a thought or as dense as table. Ever changing, qi moves from material to immaterial and vice verse, sometimes very quickly and sometimes very slowly. When looking at the body, there are many flows of qi. Each is identified and named based on what it is current function is.
The Nutrient qi cycle is just one of the main flows of qi in the body. This rhythmic flow circulates qi and blood in an orderly 2 hour sequence from one organ channel to the next throughout the entire day. Understanding this flow can be helpful in creating greater wellness and in identifying disharmonies that seems to happen at a particular time. Whether you wake up every morning at 3 am, or feel tired at 2 pm in the afternoon can be an indicator of an imbalance in this flow.
In the Nutrient qi cycle is the energetic flow that occurs along the 12 primary channels or meridians in a constant ebb and flow. The cycle begins at 3 am starting in the Lung channel flowing as follows:
Large Intestines: 5-7am
Small Intestines: 1-3 pm
Triple Burner: 9-11pm
Gall Bladder: 11-1am
To be clear, there is energy in each channel constantly. The nutrient qi cycle simply shows the ebbing and flowing. Sometimes we have too little in a channel, or the channel hordes the qi and doesn’t pass it easily over to the next. When one channel is peaked the energy in another channel will be at its weakest and these can be fantastic indicators of where to focus treatment–a few examples:
The Liver channel should flow smoothly, exiting its energy to the Lung channel at 3am in the morning. The Liver channel ends at acupuncture point Liver 14 just below the breasts, the energy must jump to Lung 1 on the ribs above the chest. This area is often very congested and hold excess energy that may wake the person ‘for no reason at all’ at 3 am. Entry and exit blocks like this show up clearly in pulse assessment and can happen in any of the channels. Personally, I find treating these patterns at their time very powerful–but coming it at 3am to treat isn’t really practical. Still, very specific points and recommendations will remedy the situation.
The Lungs should have their peak energy from 3-5 am in the morning. Someone with weak Lung energy may experience exhaustion, shallow breathing, coughing or wheezing during this time. Likewise, a person wishing to strengthen their Lungs would benefit from rising early to meditate at breath during this time.
Extreme fatigue that seems to strike every afternoon at 2pm can be an indicator of deficiency in the Small Intestines. An Amma Therapist or acupuncturist can use this information to focus in their treatment. These imbalances show up in pulse assessment very clearly and the practitioner would include other assessment skills to figure out the primary disharmony.
Stomach energy is at its greatest from 7-9am, a perfect time to have breakfast so the the stomach can adequate begin assimilating and converting the food to qi for the day’s activities. Because the channel is weakest at 7-9pm, it has less energy available to nosh down a huge meal before bedtime, possibly leaving you feeling bloated and heavy.
People with Heart and anxiety issues may see their pattern flare up between the hours of 11-1.
Whether in health or disharmony having a little glimmer of understanding of the nutrient qi cycle can be helpful in focusing in treatment or assisting you in achieving higher goals, so peak at the clock next time something ‘pops up.’
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