What is Qi?
“Qi” (pronounced “chi”) is one of the most important concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is the source of Universal life, without it, there is no animating life force. Everything has Qi, and different types of Qi belong to different substances. When the energy in our bodies is low or out of sync, we take Qi from other places and transform it into useable energy for our own bodies. Qi is at the heart of TCM and understanding its function in the human body makes it profoundly effective for healing.
Here is your crash course on all things Qi:
Different Types of Qi
While Qi is a general term used to describe the energy in our bodies, there are actually many different forms of Qi that all work together in order to maintain balance and keep your body healthy and functioning. These are just some of the different types of Qi found in our body:
Yuan Qi is derived from Jing (Essence) and is stored in the Kidneys. Yuan Qi is responsible for promoting and stimulating the activities in the organs in order to keep them functioning.
Gu Qi is the first stage in the transformation of food, therefore, Gu Qi is primarily found in the stomach and the spleen. When the Gu Qi is imbalanced it can lead to bloating, distention, fatigue, loss of appetite.
Kong Qi enters our body through the air when we breathe, so it is stored in the lungs.
Zong Qi is actually created from a combination of Kong Qi and Gu Qi. Its main job is to nourish the heart and lungs by aiding them in delivering air, energy, and blood throughout our bodies.
Qi vs Yin and Yang
You’re probably reading this and thinking that Qi sounds a lot like Yin and Yang (which we discussed in a previous blog post,) but they are actually quite different. Yin and Yang are two opposite but complementary forces. Qi is animating that gives life to all things, whereas yin and yang are the energies within those living things that give them balance. When yin and yang are thrown out of balance, when there is too much or too little of one aspect of Qi relative to another, it results in illness.
As we’ve mentioned, if there is an imbalance in Qi within the body, it leads to illness. That is where Traditional Chinese Medicine will come in. Practitioners will identify if there is a deficiency in Qi or excess QI and develop a treatment plan from there.
Qi Deficiency: In Chinese medicine, qi deficiency can take many forms. It could be a lack of sleep, food shelter, clean water, fresh air or other physical things the body needs to function properly. It can also be a lack of sufficient mental stimulation, social interaction, and love.
Excess Qi: Excess qi can be as detrimental as a qi deficiency, if not worse. It can arise as a result of environmental toxins, like polluted air or water. It can also arise from excessive physical activity, overeating, stress, or strong negative emotions.
What Causes Qi Deficiency? What are the Signs?
Many practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine believe that qi deficiency and chronic medical diseases like heart disease, hypertension, or stroke are connected.
But what causes our Qi to become deficient? When one area is running low on Qi, it borrows from another in order to keep up. But if we are using too much without replenishing, there is nothing to borrow from, resulting in a deficiency. We see it often in people who work all of the time, or in students and young parents.
According to the website Medical News, “A general qi deficiency may cause some overall symptoms of fatigue and illness. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences uses the following five signs and symptoms to diagnose a qi deficiency:
- shortness of breath or no desire to talk
- spontaneous sweating
- a swollen tongue with teeth marks on the side
- a weak pulse
The best way to replenish your Qi? Take some time to unwind and relax. Do things that you enjoy. Exercise and eat foods that will help nourish your body instead of just grabbing something that is quick and easy. We all need to take a break sometimes, it’s ok!
Steven Wang, MD and Gui Wang, LAc have over 60 years of combined experience caring for patients. By combining Traditional Chinese Medicine with modern technology, this father-son duo has formulated a natural line of skincare products that are ideal for use in spas or at home.
We are healers at heart. All of our products are made with the goal to promote healthy skin, use the knowledge we have gained over years of dedicated practice, and to make an effective, natural product.
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