If you have healthy organs, you are healthy.
I’m an acupuncturist, presenter and creator of the Chi Cycle health system. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is my profession, passion and purpose. I taught it for a decade, write books that popularise elements of it, and I’m a practitioner in the traditional sense as I combine research and clinical practice with hours of chi-practice daily.
It all began in rehab, one I ran that is. Although one I was a patient in could have been just as likely as a good decade of my life was devoted to altered states. And although that didn’t end well, it did lead me to Chinese medicine and chi, and that opened more doors than the drugs ever did.
Preventative health is a passion and my version of lifestyle medicine is based on the Chinese organ clock, the idea that chi circulates through our organs every 24 hours, and that changing what you do when will change everything for the better. It imagines us all as cogs in complex and mystical cosmic workings and if we just realign, life becomes more meaningful and mystical by the day.
I developed a residential rehab program based on this concept, and the healing and transformative medium of chi. Seeing clients withdraw from heroin without side-effects, seeing meth cravings vanish, seeing ‘alcoholics’ have a glass or two and then stop, led me to adapt the program for everyone. This was the birth of the Chi Cycle lifestyle; a health-boosting, fat-burning feel-good day plan.
How lifestyle becomes medicine
You can use your lifestyle to create health and happiness. This is not a new idea but it’s one we need to revive as lifestyle disease kills up to 40 million people a year now. Chinese medicine was based on the discoveries of the Daoist sages, the masters of living in a way that prevented sickness and created cosmic connection. Vitality and immortality were their buzzwords, chi was their medium and nature was their teacher. They spent a couple of thousand years working out that everything you need for physical, emotional and spiritual health is within you, in your organs.
I took their research and spent another 30 years working out how to make this work for us in the 21st century. It all comes down to synching your body with the natural 24 hour cycle (called a cycle of chi) by rescheduling daily activities to the times when it is best for your organs. This restores internal order, it grows your inner calm and emotional control. It enables your organs to function better and this can slowly reverse chronic disease symptoms. It is anti-ageing and the antidote to the modern health meltdown.
See, our biggest health problem is lifestyle. Working all hours, eating randomly while multi-tasking, constantly rushing to get through impossible ‘to do’ lists, collecting sleep debt, and suffering unrelenting stress. This damages our organs and it makes us anxious, depressed, bloated, angry, exhausted and permanently tired. It creates pretty much all of our health problems from coughs to chronic disease.
This is not the plan. Your organs are set-up to be working 24/7 to keep you healthy and happy. They are like your personal internal health team but we are constantly sabotaging them. The Chi Cycle Lifestyle gets you out of their way. It takes the workload off them so they can boost immunity, reverse lifestyle disease, increase metabolism, reverse ageing and fast-track health, vitality and happiness.
I could write an encyclopaedia on the backend of this, on how you have ‘chi organs’ and physical organs; how your meridians hook your organs up to the cosmic intelligence; how following the chi cycle aligns you with this, but think of my Chi Cycle as the front end. Jump in and start now, things will start changing internally, and this will change how you feel and how your life unfolds. A few simple daily changes and you can change your life. Health is that simple!
Your internal health team
When I talk about organs, I’m talking about TCM organs. It’s a very different take on them. TCM organs are responsible for physical and emotional health, they don’t seperate the two. Your organs are synchronised to the 24 hour daily rhythm. They each have a task and they also all work as a team to keep you in top shape physically, emotionally and spiritually. Chinese medicine visualises some organs as characters, like your Liver is known as ‘the general’.
It’s fantastic, poetic but backed by millennia of real research into how your internal world works. In an earlier draft of my book Chi Health Cycle, I created characters for all 12 TCM organs, and wrote their job descriptions. The publisher ditched the idea, but these are dear to my heart. Hover over the organs above to discover each character and their job description below.
Your large intestine is a major player in change and transformation. It is the hub of emotional and physical detoxing. It also plays a role in movement and expression of your emotions, and connected to your capacity to either ‘let go’ or get stuck holding on to things.
Your stomach is the origin of all chi and blood. If your stomach chi is strong you will be healthy and full of energy. Connected to your capacity to rebound from stress and challenges of life. Influences your capacity to nurture and to be nurtured.
Your spleen is the main organ involved with digestion and the production of chi. A strong spleen means strong muscles and lots of energy. Responsible for memory, focusing and concentration. Involved in issues of nourishment, on both a physical and psychic level.
Your heart is responsible for pumping blood and making blood. It nourishes the mind and spirit making you more receptive to change. Directs, integrates and coordinates aspects of your psychic life. A strong heart means a strong mind, good memory and balanced emotions.
Your small intestine helps with digestion. It has an influence on judgement and gives you the power of discernment, and the ability to make good decisions. Separates the ‘clear’ from the ‘turbid’ in digestion and on a psychic level. Plays a crucial role in the happy unfolding of life.
Your bladder stores and excretes urine, but it also participates in the transformation of fluids necessary for the production of urine. Influences your capacity to go with the flow and whether you hold on to or can let go of grudges.
Your kidneys determine your constitutional strength and your mental and physical strength. With strong kidneys your willpower and vital force is strong. You will have the drive, determination, enthusiasm and persistence to pursue goals. Kidneys influence your ability to stand up to emotional stress and weak kidneys mean you will be easily discouraged and lack vitality.
Your pericardium is closely related to your heart. It covers and protects the heart. It also has a strong influence on mental and emotional states, the formation of relationships and healthy personal interactions. Joy and happiness are connected to your pericardium.
Your san jiao is a function not a physical organ. It directs fluids and chi to all your organs. It affects the flow of your emotions and your capacity to relate to people. San jiao time (9pm – 11pm) can inspire people to have sex (especially men) as they are more likely to open up emotionally to their partners.
Your decision making originates from your gallbladder. Controls the spirit of initiative and the courage to make changes. A strong gallbladder gives you the ‘gall’ to change your life, to follow your dreams and to implement new ideas.
Your liver stores blood, regulates chi flow throughout your body for all physiological, mental and emotional functions, and it supports recovery. With a healthy liver comes resoluteness and drive, and the capacity to plan your life. Happiness occurs when liver chi flows freely.
Your lungs are the intermediary between you and the world. They build immunity to allergens and bugs, but they also build your immunity to the negative influences of other people. In charge of the mental-emotional sphere.
This easy to follow day-plan will align you with nature’s 24 hour cycle. Along the way you’ll discover the essence of Chinese medicine, and the secret powers of your organs. Packed with hundreds of practical lifestyle tips, this is an entertaining must-read, and the ultimate guide for anyone who wants to take charge of their health, get more energy, lose weight and reverse lifestyle disease.
Chi Health Cycle is available in all good bookstores and online. Published by Welbeck, UK.
What is Lifestyle Medicine?
Lifestyle medicine is a new concept in Western medicine. It has emerged in response to the epidemic of ‘lifestyle diseases’, such as heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, that are killing tens of millions of people every year. These deaths are the outcome of unhealthy behaviours including lack of exercise, poor diets, smoking, toxic stress and sleep debt. Lifestyle