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!