In English we pronounce qi ‘TCHEE’. The Japanese pronounce it ‘Kee’. You may often see it spelled as Chi or Ch’i.
It literally translates as air, breath, steam.
Originally derived from the Chinese character for steam rising over boiling rice, the concept is fundamental in Chinese medicine.
Translation: life force or life energy – but that implies that inanimate objects and vacuums contain none of it, which they do, because they exist.
If you are religious, might you regard it as being the ‘breath of God’, that enables the universe and everything within it to exist?
There are an infinite number of different aspects of qi.
As regards our health, traditional Chinese medicine regarded it as being what enables life to exist within us.
With it, we live!
Without it we do not live – although what remains as our body after we die continues to be represented as matter until it changes into something else through deterioration or destruction.
The rest of this page gets a bit technical, meaning lots of Chinese words and explanations.
However, the Chinese have spent 3000 years thinking about our health and ill-health from this point of view so we should respect their ideas.
Normal qi is also called ‘upright’ or ‘true’ (Zheng) qi. It arises or is created in our bodies through the interaction of three factors:
1/ The qi of our internal organs (zang fu). For example, heart qi, kidney qi, lung qi, stomach qi.
The qi of each of these internal organs works in different ways. For example, in health lung qi, heart qi, kidney qi, stomach qi, large intestine qi, small intestine qi and bladder qi should all descend, spleen qi should ascend, and liver qi should ascend and enable all the others to flow smoothly. In addition, the steam and water from the Kidneys should ascend.
3/ Nourishing qi (Ying qi) which travels within the blood to nourish the body and all its parts
4/ The qi that defends us (wei qi), like our immune force. This circulates at an outer level of the body defending it against external disease-forming factors
5/ Ancestral qi (Zhong qi). This is created in the chest and nourishes mainly the lungs and the heart.
However, qi also takes lighter or more tenuous forms, such as thoughts, ideas, and heavier, thicker forms, such as blood and bones.
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In health there are checks and balances in how qi moves.
Lung qi descends and Liver qi ascends: they balance one another.
But if you get angry, more (Liver) qi ascends. You feel this as tension in your shoulders and neck, the tightening of your jaw and facial muscles, the constriction in your chest and the desire to argue, even shout – or grit your teeth!
What do you do? Either you let it out assertively or you calm yourself down with a few deep breaths. This makes your Lung qi descend more strongly, taking with it all that rising tension.
If you let it out destructively, then there was no moderating counter-balance from your Lungs.
If you realised what was happening and contained the energy until dealt with constructively, then your Lung energy steadied you.
Stomach qi descends and Spleen qi ascends. If Stomach qi fails to descend, you’ll be nauseous and won’t want to eat.
If Spleen qi fails to ascend, you’ll get diarrhoea but more than that, the essence of food won’t ascend to nourish the ancestral (Zhong) qi in your chest. So you’ll feel weak and perhaps breathless.
Where you are having problems often suggests which zangfu organs are acting ‘wrongly’.
That can narrow down the field very quickly.
Energy problems take many forms, for example:
These problems cause an imbalance between yin and yang.
You could say that this entire website, indeed, all Chinese medicine, is about this imbalance.
Another method of using Chinese medicine is the Five Elements. They also assess qi but from a different perspective. Worth a look!
When you visit me one of my first jobs is to assess your Qi and where there may be weaknesses.
The consultation may be short or long, but that basic diagnosis is vital if I’m to plan a good treatment.
There’s no point in shortening the appointment if doing so stops me making the right diagnosis.
To book an appointment click here.
Blood Stasis (Blood Stagnation) is a major constituent of Chronic Ill-Health, Pain and Ageing. Strive to keep your Blood moving!
Yin Excess is more common than Yang Excess because it lasts longer. In its own way however, it’s almost as bad.
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