Qi (Pronounced chee or chi) is the energy that controls the workings of the mind and body. Qi is derived from two main sources: air and food. It warms the body and protects from illness as it circulates through a system of pathways called meridians that correspond to particular organs or organ systems. In turn, each organ has its own characteristic qi (e.g., liver qi, kidney qi, and so on).

More specifically, there are two basic types of qi in the body: congenital and acquired. We are born with congenital qi and the quality and amount represents our basic constitution. Acquired qi,  is derived from the foods we eat and the air that we breath. Therefore, the quality of acquired qi depends on our lifestyle habits, balance of emotions, physical exercise and more. If qi becomes imbalanced due to depletion or obstruction, the function of the organ or organ systems may suffer.

The five main functions of qi within the body are:

  1. Transform: Qi assists in the formation and transformations within the body, like transforming food into Qi and blood.
  2. Protect: Qi defends the body from harmful pathogens. The free flow of qi is what allows the body to fight illness or infection.
  3. Contain: Qi holds organs in their place, keeps blood in the vessels and controls the proper containment and removal of fluids. Conditions such as organ sagging (prolapse), varicose veins, frequent urination or improper sweating can result from Qi weakness.
  4. Move: Qi controls movement and growth in the body. Qi gives us the energy to move, both physically and deep within- it even moves our blood.
  5. Warm: The movement of qi provides warmth for the body.  Qi is considered to be more yang and deficiency can lead to conditions such as; cold extremities, and slow digestion.

For a more in-depth look at qi, click here.

There is a unique relationship between qi and blood. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is said…

  • Blood is denser form of Qi
  • Blood is inseparable from Qi
  • Qi moves Blood; Blood is the mother of Qi
  • Qi gives life and movement to Blood, but Blood nourishes the Organs that produce Qi.

Blood and Ying (Nutritive) Qi are particularly closely connected: flow together in the vessels.  Read more about blood here

Aside from qi and blood, jin ye- or body fluids, are important to take into consideration with someone’s overall health. These liquids that protect, nourish and lubricate the body are: sweat, tears, saliva, stomach acid, mucus, semen and breast milk.  The body fluids, blood, and qi are all closely connected.

For more on jin ye, click here.

Traditional Chinese medicine holds that the body is an interconnected system of channels and pathways, a self-contained system that relies on various factors to maintain a state of balance and harmony. Among these factors are the Vital Substances, which travel through the body’s pathways to help the body maintain its health state. Qi, Blood, Jin Ye and Jing are considered the vital substances.  Each are summarized in this article: Qi, Jing, Blood and Jin Ye