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The Role of Oriental Medicine in Digestive Health
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSTOM

Would you consider the idea that maintaining an optimal digestive system involves more than eating a healthy diet, it's just as vital why and when you eat?

If we enlist the help of the Oriental medicine circadian clock based on 2-hour increments during which each organ performs at its best to plan meals and snacks according to this rhythm keeps your digestive organs and entire body running well.

Consider the idea that maintaining an optimal digestive system involves more than eating a healthy diet — it's just as vital to know why and when to eat.

Using the Oriental medicine circadian clock based on 2-hour increments during which each organ performs at its best. Planning your meals and snacks according to this rhythm keeps your digestive organs and entire body running well.

The large intestine functions best from 5 am to 7 am which makes this the ideal time to eliminate waste from the body and provide the colon enough energy to function at full force. Immediately upon waking up, drink a glass of lukewarm or room temperature water to rehydrate the intestinal organs.

The time of the stomach is from 7 am to 9 am. As one of the first digestive organs to receive food, this is a perfect time to enjoy a good breakfast. Warm, cooked food is advisable as opposed to dry cereals with cold milk or smoothies. Omelets, hash browns, oatmeal, and warm, moist porridges can make for a filling, hearty meal. Try not to get too complicated with heavy sauces, spices or oily, fried foods.

If you indulge in coffee or warm tea wait until you are done eating so your digestive juices remain undiluted and full of power.  Both the stomach and spleen thrive on food that is warm. Cold causes contraction, which interferes with their ability to digest food properly.

The time of the heart is from 11 am to 1 pm, corresponding to the traditional lunch hour. A healthy lunch can contain pungent and spicy foods as the energy of the heart hours can easily metabolize heat-producing foods. Consider swapping out cold salads and sandwiches for hot meals and include warm soups.

Between the hours of 3 pm and 5 pm many people experience a slump in energy. This corresponds to the energy of the urinary bladder. During this time the metabolic waste in the body is beginning to enter the kidneys for processing. To help initiate the kidney filtration process, enjoy a salty snack. A savory snack washed down with a warm herbal tea is a nice treat for your bladder and kidneys.

From 5 pm to 7 pm is the time of the kidneys. Kidney energy is about reserving and storing.  The energy of the body is focusing inward as it begins to settle into the quietness of nighttime. A tranquil dinner focusing on whole grains, roasted meats, and legumes can satisfy the nutritional needs of the kidneys.

After dinner, keep calm and don't exert energy for the rest of the evening. This doesn't mean you have to forgo going out with friends but, it does mean it shouldn't be part of your regular routine. Parties and nighttime celebrations can be nurturing and joyful experiences, and they have their proper place.

Eating in tempo with the Oriental medicine clock provides a structure for the whole day. Striving to do so helps to harmonize other aspects of your life.

Contact a practitioner to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can improve your digestive health!

Sources: TMC Tips for Digestive and Metabolic Health. Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.tcmworld.org/tcm-tips-for-digestive-and-metabolic-health/

Maciocia, G. (2014). The Five Elements - Clinical Application of the Cosmological Sequence. Retrieved from http://maciociaonline.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-five-elements-clinical-application_10.html

About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.