Chinese Medicine Clock – Organ Horary Times

The Chinese Medicine Clock shows the times when, traditionally, the different organs are most active. It can be a pointer to an organ being ‘out of balance’.

Each organ has a  two hour period every day when its energy is enhanced. That doesn’t mean it works better then! In fact it could produce more symptoms, not less!

And always consider the organ the Chinese medicine clock times of which are 12 hours away.

For example, the horary time for the Lungs is 0300-0500. But the Lungs have a relationship with the Bladder 1500 – 1700.

So when Lungs are ‘up’, Bladder is ‘down’. Sometimes you get a problem due at least in part to the organ 12 hours away. Ideally they should complement or support one another.


OrganChinese name of OrganHorary Start timeHorary Finish time
HeartArm shao-yin11001300
Small intestineArm tai-yang13001500
BladderLeg tai-yang15001700
KidneyLeg shao-yin17001900
PericardiumArm hsueh-yin19002100
Three HeaterArm shao-yang21002300
GallbladderLeg shao-yang23000100
LiverLeg hsueh-yin01000300
LungsArm tai-yin03000500
Large IntestineArm yang-ming05000700
StomachLeg yang-ming07000900
SpleenLeg tai-yin09001100


Sometimes the link between two organs gets blocked. Using their exit and entry points may clear the blockage.

Going Deeper into the Chinese medicine body clock

At the center of the clock-face is the body’s core, representing the Heart, which governs the entire system.

  1. 1 am – 3 am: Liver – This time is associated with the Liver’s detoxification processes and the storage of blood.
  2. 3 am – 5 am: Lungs – The Lungs are most active during these hours, influencing respiration and oxygenation of the blood.
  3. 5 am – 7 am: Large Intestine – This is the optimal time for bowel movements and elimination, promoting detoxification.
  4. 7 am – 9 am: Stomach – Digestion is at its peak during these hours, and it’s recommended to have a substantial breakfast.
  5. 9 am – 11 am: Spleen/Pancreas – The Spleen and Pancreas govern digestion and nutrient absorption, aiding in energy production.
  6. 11 am – 1 pm: Heart – The Heart’s energy is reinforced, promoting vitality and mental clarity. Lunchtime is ideal.
  7. 1 pm – 3 pm: Small Intestine – This time focuses on further digestion and nutrient absorption, separating the pure from the impure.
  8. 3 pm – 5 pm: Bladder – The Bladder’s energy peaks, aiding in the elimination of waste and toxins from the body.
  9. 5 pm – 7 pm: Kidneys – This period supports the Kidneys’ filtration functions and hormone regulation, influencing vitality and aging.
  10. 7 pm – 9 pm: Pericardium – The Pericardium governs emotional well-being and relationships, promoting relaxation and socializing.
  11. 9 pm – 11 pm: Triple Burner – Also known as San Jiao or Triple Heater, this time focuses on regulating body temperature and metabolism.
  12. 11 pm – 1 am: Gallbladder – The Gallbladder supports detoxification and the processing of fats, preparing the body for rest and rejuvenation.

Understanding the Chinese Medicine body clock can help individuals optimize their activities, diet, and lifestyle to support the natural rhythms of the body and promote overall well-being.

A clear increase or reduction in function at a regular time of day may point your practitioner towards better diagnosis and treatment.

Element Points and their Chinese Medicine clock times

Some acupuncture traditions consider that treating an organ’s element point during the organ’s clock time makes the point more effective.

For example, your Lungs come under the Metal element or phase. So treating Lung 8, which is the Lung channel’s Metal point, would make it work more effectively if treated between 0300 and 0500. Of course, there hasn’t been a lot of research on this particular point in that regard because most acupuncturists are asleep then.

Find out more under Element Acupuncture Points.


Well – there are a number! But research was done in Japan by Dr Yoshio Manaka on the Chinese medicine clock times and described in his book ‘Chasing the Dragon’s Tail‘.

A frequent objection comes from countries where twice a year the clock times are altered to ‘save daylight’.

At these times, all the clock times alter by one hour which you would think would throw off the Chinese medicine clock times.

However, in my experience, our bodies adapt fairly quickly, but it does mean that for a few days the times become fuzzy. For more on this, at least for Britain, see time and

brown wooden framed analog clock

Chinese Culture and ‘Astrological’ relationships

When you were born, (date, place and time) may reveal your ‘sensitive’ times. For example, if you are born in the late evening, a possible health complication may arise from the organ energies which are then in action: in this case your Three-Heater (Arm  Shao Yang) 2100-2300h or Gallbladder (Leg Shao Yang) 2300-0100h. Or possibly those at the opposite, 12 hours away, being Spleen (Leg Tai Yin) and Heart (Arm Shao Yin).

This is not the same as being born in the year of the ‘Rat’ or the ‘Rooster’. Here’s a link (there’s another below) to read more about Chinese astrology.

Nor is it the same as insights from the Sidereal zodiac used, for instance, in Indian astrology, or the Tropical zodiac mostly used in Western astrology – see below for links. (If these distinctions mean nothing to you, well … you’re in good company! And, probably, most people are pretty sceptical of the whole thing, but Chinese astrology is still a major tradition in modern Chinese cultural life, and much the same applies, unofficially, in our cynical West!)

 7th January 2014 at 6.55pm Edinburgh Scotland
Tropical zodiac example

I have occasionally benefited from considering these issues for patients with difficult or very chronic conditions. Some people who believe in reincarnation view the ‘horoscope’ (the picture wheel of sun, moon and planet placements, like the one above) as revealing depths inherited and to be worked on in the current life: a pattern only at last able to emerge through that baby’s birth.

Sometimes these chart patterns suggest when things may happen or change unless upset by ‘force majeure’. Some patients benefit when they can see themselves as part of a bigger pattern in life, and horoscopes certainly can provide that. (This is quite different from the kind of ‘Sun-Sign’ astrology you often see in newspapers.)

Other useful pages

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