Category Archives: Jet lag

Holding Jet Lag at Bay

A forthcoming trip to the northern hemisphere has put me in mind of the acupressure treatment for jet lag.

Long haul jet travel has a profound effect on the daily rhythm of the body’s Qi by switching time zones very quickly. Symptoms of the condition include fatigue, insomnia, disrupted sleep and digestion, constipation or diarrhoea, and general malaise. It can take up to a day to recover for each time zone crossed, so a trip from Sydney to London can take a week or more to adjust. Eastward travel is more challenging to the body than westward.

There is an acupressure treatment protocol that can help you adjust to local time more quickly and avoid some of the more difficult symptoms of jet lag. It is not a simple one-point treatment but requires you to hold points every two hours throughout your journey. But the efforts will pay off.

The treatment protocol is based on the Chinese Clock which shows the movement of the tide of Qi through the 12 meridians over a 24 hour period. While there is Qi moving through all the meridians at all times, there is a high tide that moves around the meridian system. Disruptions to flow in a meridian can produce symptoms and conditions that relate to that meridian.

When we change time zones quickly, this diurnal rhythm is thrown out and takes time to adjust. But we can speed up the adjustment by holding the Element of the Element points of each meridian in turn. These are also known as the Horary points. These points encourage the Qi tide to change as we travel, and we arrive at our destination more in sync with local time.

How to treat yourself

When you are in the departure lounge waiting for your flight, set a clock to the time at your destination. I suggest you use a 24 hour clock otherwise you may become confused. If the country where you are going to has daylight saving, take this off as we need to set the clock to local sun time. For the duration of your flight, you will hold the Horary point of the meridian whose time shows on your destination clock, first on the left side of the body, then on the right for 2 to 3 minutes.

The Chinese Clock

 For a great chart with pictures of point locations, created by Mary Golob, click here.
For those who have good anatomical knowledge, here are more precise descriptions of the locations.

Time at destination Point Location
3 – 5 am LU 8 1 cun proximal to the wrist  in depression at base of styloid process
5 – 7 am LI 1 0.1 cun from the radial corner of nailbed of index finger
7 – 9 am ST 36 3 cun below the patella and a finger width lateral to crest of tibia
9 – 11 am SP 3 Medial side of foot proximal to head of first metatarsal
11am –1pm HE 8 On palm where little finger rests when a fist is made
1 – 3 pm SI 5 Ulnar side of wrist in depression between ulna and triquetral bone
3 – 5 pm BL 66 Lateral side of foot at the base of the little toe
5 – 7 pm KI 10 Medial end of popliteal crease between tendons; locate flexed
7 – 9 pm HP 8 On palm where middle finger rests when a fist is made
9 – 11 pm TH 6 3 cun proximal to the wrist between ulna and radius
11pm-1am GB 41 Dorsum of foot at the junction of 4th & 5th metatarsals
1 – 3 am LV 1 0.1 cun from the medial corner of nailbed of big toe

Let’s say you are leaving Sydney at 10 pm and flying to London which is 10 time zones earlier. Set your clock to 12 Noon. This lies in the Heart section of the Chinese Clock, therefore you hold Heart 8 in the palms of your hands. You need to hold the points at least once during the two hour period, and more will be helpful.

Keeping an eye on the London clock, somewhere between 1 pm and 3pm, hold the Small Intestine Horary points, SI 5. Proceed around the clock, holding the relevant points every two hours until you arrive at your destination. Ideally you should continue holding points for 24 hours after you arrive, but since you’ll be sleeping some of that time, it’s ok to miss some.

Feel free to let me know how it goes for you. Safe and healthy travels!

Coming back to Earth

Earth in spaceAustralians are great travellers. Because our island continent is so isolated, travelling overseas means long haul travel,  often to the opposite hemisphere.

While the effects of jet lag from changing time zones are well known, what is not often considered are the consequences of changing seasons when flying from one hemisphere to another.

The reason I’m discussing this is that I have just returned from a two week trip to California (hence the delay in this posting). I left the lovely, languorous, late summer of the Adelaide Hills and 18 hours later found myself in an equally glorious early spring in the San Francisco Bay Area. Having acclimatised (or acclimated as our American cousins have it) to the spring, I now find myself back in South Australia in late summer which is thinking of becoming autumn.

I have treated many people who have struggled with the effects of topsy-turvy seasons on their bodies. Most people adjust just fine within a week or so, but for some the abrupt changes create blocks in the energy flows of the body, blocks which cause ongoing symptoms requiring treatment.

Why does this happen? Normally the Earth Element mediates the transition between seasons. The classics say that in the last 18 days of each of the four seasons, Earth arises to facilitate the transition. That means we have two and a half weeks to gradually adapt to the change of season. In my case, I only had 18 hours to adjust, and that was in a metal box 30,000 feet above the earth! What is more, instead of moving into autumn, a season in which the ambient Qi is falling, I was whisked into spring where Qi was rising.

What can we do to help ourselves in this situation? I have found that supporting the Element of the season to which you are travelling is helpful. If by changing hemispheres you are going into spring, treat Wood points; for summer treat Fire points; for autumn use Metal points; and for winter hold Water points. I haven’t mentioned Earth in this list. That’s because you can always use Earth points in addition to the other Element points. In fact, it is very helpful to use the source points of the yin meridians, all of which happen to be Earth points.

These source points are Liver 3 (Wood), Heart 7 (Fire), Spleen 3 (Earth) Lung 9 (Metal) and Kidney 3 (Water). Since these points are so important, I have talked about all of them in the past year except for Spleen 3. If you scroll down the blog postings at http://www.acupressure.com.au/wprss/ you will find them.

Spleen 3 (Taibai – Supreme White) is the Earth point on an Earth meridian. Stomach 36, the very first blog I posted a year ago is also the Earth point on an Earth meridian. Together these two points can provide deeply grounding and balancing support for Earth energies that have become wobbly.

If you find you are still feeling up in the air or all over the place after your overseas trip, help yourself come back to earth with some Earth points.

SP 3Location of Spleen 3

The point is located on the inside of the foot below the ball of the big toe. It lies on the side of the foot at the junction of the red and white skin. Press into the depression at the base of the big toe.