What is Chi (Qi)?

What is Qi?

The idea of Qi is simple yet extremely profound.  On the most basic level, perhaps the word that can best be used to translate the word is energy.  However, it is much more than simple energy, and as it related to humans and health it is more commonly thought of a our life force.  Other cultures from around the world have also referred to this vital life force as well.  It is “pranha” in India, and even some relate this life force with the Christian idea of the Holy Spirit.  What is the most important thing to understand with regards to Qi and the human body is that if it is balanced, free flowing and unobstructed you will have health and vitality in the body.  Many things contribute to Qi not flowing properly in the body and disharmony.  The actual Chinese character for health can be translated as original qi.

What are the different types of Qi?

In order to understand how this life force energy, we must understand that this energy can be broken down in to different types of energy and these different types have a very different effect on the body.  Listed below are some of the different types of qi and how they are understood from a Chinese Medical understanding.  Human physiology is based upon qi and how its function pertain to the different organs of the body.  Qi is the potential for change in a physical substance in the body, affecting both small parts and large.

1.  Original-Yuan: This is the dynamic force for functional activity for all of the organs.

2. Gathering – Zong: The helps to control breathing in the Lungs and blood circulation to the extremities.  It also controls speech and strength of voice.  It is formed from an interaction between Air-Qing Qi and Food-Gu Qi.

3. Food-Gu: This is the origin of qi and blood and originates from the stomach and the spleen.  It rises from these organs to form blood in the heart.  Eating the right things is essential for forming good qi.

4. Nutritive-Ying: Produces blood, nourishes the organs, and circulates in the channels.  It is this qi that is affected with acupuncture and acupressure.
5. Defensive-Wei:  This is thought of to protect the body from outside invaders (wind) and it protects the body and closes the pores of the skin.  It is a lowering of this type of qi that gives people colds and the flu, among other things.
6. True-Zhen:  This is formed from Zong and it also circulates in the meridians and nourishes the organs.
7. Central-Zhonq:  This holds everything up and keeps organs and parts of the body from prolapsing
8. Upright-Zheng: Controls the blood and also the raising of qi.
9.Organ Qi – Each organ has its own energy that can be altered to restore balance to that organ and to benefit the body.

What is the function of Qi in the body?

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi has 5 different purposes in the body that control health and balance.
  • Transformation
  • Change
  • Transportation
  • Condensation
  • Dispersion

Imbalances or disruptions in Qi are responsible for every major problem that a person can have.  With an understanding of this medicine, a practitioner will be able to pinpoint where the foundational problem lies so that changes or alterations can be made to directly impact a particular type of chi, thus achieving balance in the body.  This may be change that is done immediately or gradually over time.

Honestly this is really not all that different that understanding how a car takes gasoline and uses the energy that is produces from it to be converted into different types of energy that make everything is the car work.  The only difference is that one must understand the idea of energy in Chinese Medicine and how the ancient people understood how it works in the body.  Once you sit with it on their level, it actually begins to make sense is actually very progressive thought as to how things worked even thousands of years ago.