Day 20: The Circadian Clock, and levels of Disease.

Mary EK Denison
5 min readFeb 17, 2020


Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

I actually chose this picture because it is 11:45 PM right now…...

The Circadian clock cycle states that each organ has a two hour time period when Qi and Blood are at their maximum. It flows in a clockwise fashion, and it takes about 28–29 minutes for Qi to circulate throughout all the Meridians in the body. That’s roughly around 50 times, or so, a day.

When Qi is traveling through the channels (same thing as Meridians), it moves through one channel to the next through the entry and exit points. Once it has gone through a channel, it exits that meridian and immediately enters the next one and is in a continuous flow. Energy flows from Chest to Hand to Face to Foot. There are theories when to tonify, or sedate a channel, but most seem to accept that a channel is best sedated during it’s maximum flow, and best tonified during the period immediately following its own period of maximum flow. The trouble with that is most practitioners will not be working in the middle of the night. Another theory speaks of tonifying during the opposite 12 hour period.

Photo by Antonika Chanel on Unsplash

The pathways are as follows — note, when you are having some issue at a certain time of day or night, like waking up at 3:00 AM, it is possible that your body is telling you that the energy of that channel may need some care.

1–3 AM Liver, Foot Shao Yang, Enters Liv1 foot, Exits Liv14 chest

3–5 AM Lungs, Hand Tai Yin, Enters Lu1 chest, Exits Lu11 hand

5–7 AM Large Intestine, Hand Yang Ming, Enters LI1 hand, Exits LI20, face

7–9 AM Stomach, Foot Yang Ming, Enters St1 face, Exits St45 foot

9–11 AM Spleen, Foot Tai Yin, Enters Sp1 foot, Exits Sp21 chest

11 AM — 1 PM Heart, Hand Shao Yin, Enters H1 chest, Exits H9 hand

1–3 PM Small Intestine, Hand Tai Yang, Enters SI1 hand, Exits SI19 face

3–5 PM Urinary Bladder, Foot Tai Yang, Enters B1 face, Exits B67 foot

5–7 PM Kidney, Foot Shao Yin, Enters K1 foot, Exits K27 chest

7–9 PM Pericardium, Hand Shao Yang, Enters P1 chest, Exits P9 hand

9–11 PM Triple Burner, Hand Jue Yin, Enters TB1 hand, Exits TB23 face

11 PM — 1 AM Gallbladder, Foot Jue Yin, Enters GB1 face, Exits GB44 foot

WOW, huh? So, you are probably wondering what the words after the channel names mean. There are six levels of disease. Tai means Greater, Shao means Lesser, Ming means Bright, Jue means Terminal.

The Tai Yang stage of illness will present fevers, chills, aversion to cold, stiff neck, head and body aches, nasal congestion with a runny nose. This is when you are feeling a cold, or something coming on.

The Yang Ming stage in the channels means it has progressed and now you may have a high fever, profuse sweating, aversion to heat because you are already hot; therefore, you will probably have a red face, be thirsty, and are restless.

If this progresses to the Yang Ming organ level, you will have a high fever that is worse in the afternoon, continue with the profuse sweating and aversion to heat, thirst and red face, but you may experience constipation (because your fluids are drying up) and show fullness and pain in the abdomen because of it, and could have delirium. My daughter used to hallucinate when she was very young when she had a fever.

Next it can move into the Shao Yang stage, alternating between fever and chills, the fullness will spread to the chest and hypochondriac regions with lack of appetite. The heat will produce irritability, dry throat, bitter taste in mouth, could present nausea, and even affect your vision causing blurryness. You’re sick….

The Tai Yin stage will continue with the abdominal fullness and lack of appetite, and you can experience vomiting, diarrhea, and have no thirst. You’re weakening…

The Shao Yin Cold stage will give you chills with an aversion to cold, you probably will experience lethargy and listlessness, no thirst even though you probably have diarrhea and if you do want a drink, you will prefer something warm. Your extremities will be cold, and you may have abundant urine but it will be pale.

The Shao Yin Heat stage will present with fever, dry mouth and throat. You’re probably very irritable and have insomnia to boot. Here your urine will be scanty and dark. The heat is drying up your fluids; hence, the dark color as it is becoming more concentrated.

The Jue Yin stage is pretty serious. You have thirst with a feeling of heat and energy rising to your chest and may have chest pains but your limbs will be cold. You have a feeling of hunger but no desire for food. You will have diarrhea and vomiting.

This is taken from the Shang Han Lun theory on cold diseases and has been used as a primary treatment practice source for nearly two millenia. The author is Zhang Zhongjing. He was considered the Chinese Hippocrates, and was a pharmacologist, physician, inventor, and writer of the Eastern Han Dynasty.

The Wen Bing Xue is a theory on warm diseases and has four levels of disease;

Wei defensive which has fever, aversion to cold, slight sweating and thirst, may have a headache, runny nose with yellow mucus (from heat), sore throat and your tonsils may be affected.

Qi level shows high fever with aversion to heat, thirst and constipation, there may be an asthmatic cough with thin yellow mucus.

The Ying, or Nutritive stage will show a night fever, dry mouth but no desire to drink. This serious stage can present mental restlessness with insomnia, spots on the skin, aphasia and in severe cases can move into coma.

If this moves into the Xue Blood stage, there will be high fever, skin eruptions, manic behavior, convulsions, and bleeding from the nose, vomiting blood, bloody stools and urine. You’re dying….



Mary EK Denison

My vocation is in alternative health therapies; cosmetic acupuncture, oriental medicine, esthetics… Subscribe for a monthly newsletter