For many people, jet lag is taken as the penalty you have to pay for fast long-distance travel. It's that horrible feeling of being sleeping while you're awake or awake while you're sleeping and it can take weeks to get over it. Some people seem to be more susceptible than others but on a journey that takes you past several time zones, it often seems impossible to escape from. How about if I told you that you can prevent it and also treat its symptoms and all you need is a spoon? Crazy, right? ...Or maybe not?
Time and the body
Time governs everything. Including our bodies. Did you know for example that there is you are more at risk of dying from a heart attack in the late morning and evening? The levels of a protein which control the heart's rhythm are thought to fluctuate through the day and the risk of sudden cardiac death peaks at these times. This is just one example of how your body is ruled by time. Wouldn't it be great if we could decipher this internal timetable for the rest of the body and then with a little treatment we could turn back or put forward our internal clocks - this is something that would really help jet lag. But how can we do this? Is it even possible?
The good news is that we don't need to. Someone has already mapped it, analysed it and refined it for us and they did it a long, long time ago. The ancient Chinese actually created a tidal timetable of the rising and falling of how blood flows in the body. This was then adapted over time with other Chinese medicine theories into the times and organ names below:
So just to be clear this means that the Lung is 3 am - 5 am, Large intestine: 5 am - 7 am, Stomach: 7 am - 9 am, Pancreas: 9 am - 11 am, Heart: 11 am - 1 pm, Small intestine: 1 pm - 3 pm, Bladder: 3 pm - 5 pm, Kidney: 5 pm - 7 pm, Heart ruler: 7 pm - 9 pm, Triple burner: 9 pm - 11 pm, Gallbladder: 11 pm - 1 am and Liver: 1 am - 3 am.
Activate the body
So what has this go to do with jet lag and Gua sha? Well, this is a tidal timetable of blood circulation where the ebbs and flows pass through organs, blood vessels, muscles, tendons and tissues of many kinds but in a specific pattern and at specific times of the day. So all you need to do is locate these trajectories, activate them at the right times and your body should do the rest.
This brings us to where to find these organs and how and when to activate them.
1. Okay so the first thing to do is to change your watch to the time of your destination when you get to the departure airport.
2. Next, you'll need a Chinese soup spoon, a Gua sha tool or you can just use your finger as a tool. You don't need to worry about using oils or creams to lubricate the skin.
3. Look at what the time is at your destination. Then look at the list below to see which of circulation patterns are active at that 2 hour time window. Ignore the time where you are and focus on the destination time. Now notice that there is a direction (up or down) next to the time, this is the direction of circulation and so the Gua sha treatment. And the part of the body to treat is specified as either arm or leg. Why arms and legs? Because they are the most accessible to treat!
Lung: 3 am - 5 am (down the arms)
Large intestine: 5 am - 7 am (up the arms)
Stomach: 7 am - 9 am (down the legs)
Pancreas: 9 am - 11 am (up the legs)
Heart: 11 am - 1 pm (down the arms)
Small intestine: 1 pm - 3 pm (up the arms)
Bladder: 3 pm - 5 pm (down the legs)
Kidney: 5 pm - 7 pm (up the legs)
Heart ruler: 7 pm - 9 pm (down the arms)
Triple burner: 9 pm - 11 pm (up the arms)
Gallbladder: 11 pm - 1 am (down the legs)
Liver: 1 am - 3 am (up the legs)
4. So let's say that you're flying to Tokyo and it's 4 am there now. That's right in the lung circulation time. Your body is probably nowhere near that time, so you need to nudge it in that direction.
You do this with Gua sha. If you aren't familiar with Gua sha and how to use it then pay close attention. You usually scrape over your skin but for what we're doing here you scrape over the top of a layer of clothing. In this way you don't need to take anything off.
You scrape in short, hand-length strokes with mild pressure on your skin and you follow a line along the length of either your arm or leg. You go in one direction only and when you reach the end, go back and repeat several times. Check out this video to show you the technique.
5. So back to Tokyo, 4 am and scraping down the line of the lung. For the lung you scrape down from the shoulder to the hand. The line follows the front of the biceps, over the inside of the elbow, then straight down the thumb side of the forearm to the outside of the thumb. Repeat several times. If you aren't wearing sleeves, don't put too much pressure on the the tool or it won't slide smoothly on the skin.
6. The next stage is to survive the inflight meal, find something mildly amusing to kill time on the entertainment channels and when the time in Tokyo passes into the 5 am - 7 am time window, scrape up the large intestine line. It begins at the thumb side of the index finger and follows the thumb side of the forearm to the end of the elbow crease and then up the centerline of the upper arm to the shoulder.
7. When Tokyo time reaches 7 am - 9 am, you have to think about your legs. This is the stomach time and you need to scrape down the stomach line. This comes down the front thigh muscles to the outside of your knee and then down the thick muscles to the outside of the tibia bone. It then goes down to the second toe.
8. As Tokyo time ticks on and the time your aircraft cabin seems to slow down like it did before recess at school, the 9 am - 11 am time slot means treating the pancreas line. This starts at your big toe and comes up the inside of your foot, and the inside of your leg beside the tibia bone to the knee and then from the inside corner of the knee cap up to your groin.
Follow the pattern
9. And so you continue syncing up your circulation patterns with those of Tokyo, or wherever your destination is, as and when you can. But please note, try to act like the time of your destination as much as possible. If it's the middle of the night there, get some rest or if possible sleep. You can follow the Gua sha circulation later on in the flight and after you land.
So here are the rest:
11 am - 1 pm is heart time and the line you scrape comes down from the armpit along the inside of the upper and lower arm and on to the end of the little finger.
1 pm - 3 pm is small intestine time and you scrape up from the outside of the little finger straight up to the elbow and then up the triceps at the back of the arm.
3 pm - 5 pm is bladder time. Scrape down the middle of the back of your thigh and calf muscles until the achilles tendon starts and then down the outside to the ankle.
5 pm - 7 pm is kidney time. Scrape up from the inside of your foot behind the inner ankle bone and up the side of the inner leg and thigh.
7 pm - 9 pm is heart ruler time (also known as pericardium). Scrape down your inner arm until your elbow and then down the middle of your lower arm to the wrist.
9 pm - 11 pm is triple burner time. Scrape up from the middle of the back of the wrist, up the back of your forearm and then at the back of your upper arm.
11 pm - 1 am is gallbladder time. Scrape down the side of your thigh and lower leg to the ankle.
1 am - 3 am is liver time. Scrape up from the ankle at the inside of your lower leg and thigh.
When you arrive at your destination, continue following this 2-hour time frame for Gua sha scraping along the appropriate circulation line for the next day. You can scrape any time within the time window but if the time is very close between two windows, do both lines.
So there you have it. Kiss goodbye to jet lag and welcome to the world of Gua sha. It's not such a crazy spoon afterall.
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