Tag Archives: oriental medicine

What actually is ‘Qi’, anyway?

Most people have at least HEARD of the word Qi, and many are now associating it with energy (a loose translation), but do you know that there are several types of Qi in Oriental Medicine, and that they have specific jobs?  Qi is fundamental to Asian medical thinking.  Ted Kaptchuk, OMD, in his book, “The Web That Has No Weaver” (which I highly recommend) explains it this way, “..we can perhaps think of Qi as matter on the verge of becoming energy, or energy at the point of materializing.”   Matter is energy frozen in light.  So, let’s distinguish, in this blog, the different forms of Qi, and what their purpose is.

Chinese medicine (or Oriental/Asian medicine) refers to all Qi of the body as Zheng Qi (Normal), or Zhen Qi (True).  This is what it is called before it becomes the other types of Qis in the body, with specific functions.  A comparison could be that when you were in utero, the cells that begin the process of creating you have not yet deciphered what they will become, i.e. heart cells, stomach cells, skin cells, etc.  There are three sources of Zheng Qi; Yuan Qi (Original/Prenatal), which is in part responsible for your inherited constitution, Gu Qi (Grain), derived from the foods you eat – and only good foods can create this Qi, and Kong Qi (Air) which is taken from the air we breathe in.   The combining of these three Qis create the Normal Qi, and it permeates the entire body.

What are the functions of Qi?

As I stated above, there are several divisions that take place with Zheng Qi, creating the specific Qis, with specific functions.  Zheng Qi is referred to as the Qi of the body that everyone refers to when they are talking about Qi.  Qi is in constant movement and ascends, descends, enters, and leaves the body.  It is inseparable from movement.  There are five major functions of this Qi within your body.

1.  It is the source of all movement in the body, and accompanies all movement.  Sometimes this can be a hard concept to follow, but an example could be your Blood.  Blood is a substance that will just lie there if it does not have Qi to push it along.  Blood and Qi cannot be separated; Blood nourishes Qi, and Qi moves Blood.   The development of your body happens because Qi is there to move that development along.  Qi expands with the growth of your body.  Qi is harmonious in Nature, but when it is blocked, it creates disharmony, or stagnation.

2.   Qi protects the body.  When it is healthy (harmonious, and in balance), it protects us from external influences (which we call EPIs – External Pernicious Influences), and combats them if they do enter.  They will only enter if our Qi is weak.  You know that when your resistance is low, you will get sick.

3.  Qi is the source of transformation in our body.  Remember that I said ‘good foods’?  You cannot eat junk food and expect good Qi to come from it.  It can only be created from good foods (bad foods are simply eliminated).  It combines with the Air Qi to create other substances, like Blood, sweat, and tears (how’s that for a classic!), and urine.

4. Qi governs the body’s Substances and Organs, and keeps them in place.  Basically, without that function, everything would fall out, or prolapse.

5.  Qi keeps the body warm.  This is your body heat.

I hope that this helps you understand what is referred to as your Qi.

Mary E.K. Denison, L.Ac., M.Om, NCCAOM, CCP www.BeautifyNaturally.com www.mitzi.byregion.net

Snapshot view of the difference of Oriental vs Western medicine

Oriental Medicine (East) may consider aspects of the body that aren’t significant to Western medicine.  The Oriental Medicine practitioner directs the attention to the complete physiological and psychological aspects of the individual, gathers that information until it forms what is referred to as ‘a pattern of disharmony’.  The Western medicine is concerned more with isolable disease categories or agents of disease, which it can isolate and zero in on.  The terminology between the two medicines can differ, also.  The East may speak of dampness, the West may call it edema, or fat.  The East refers to heat, or wind-heat, the West may call it a temperature, or a rash.  Unfortunately, terms do not always translate.  Both medicines have logic, but can appear to be pointing in two different directions.  Though, both can work together and can compliment each other, nicely.  Both forms of medicine are important to our world, health and well-being.  Personally, I use a combination of both.

Mary E.K. Denison, L.Ac., M.Om, NCCAOM, CCP www.BeautifyNaturally.com www.mitzi.byregion.net


When you don’t understand a system, it seems unlikely that you will use it.  I want to teach you things that will help you understand some alternative ideas in natural healing, such as Oriental medicine or colorpuncture theory.  My purpose is to help you understand some different ideas, so that if you ever need or want to try another form of healing for yourself, you will have some knowledge.

The Five Principles of Yin and Yang Theory.

1.  All things have a Yin apsect and a Yang aspect and their qualities exist in relation to each other.  Even though their qualities are opposite, they describe related aspects of the same thing.  A ‘day’ consists of 24 hours, yet, it can be divided into two parts; daytime is the Yang aspect, and nighttime is the Yin aspect.

2.  Any Yin or Yang aspect can be divided further into a Yin and Yang aspect.  Therefore, within each Yin and Yang category, another Yin and Yang category can be distinguished.  For example, with water temperatures, cold water (Yin) vs hot water (Yang), each can be subdivided; cold water can be further divided into icy water (Yin) vs room temperature water (Yang).  Hot water can become boiling (Yang) vs hot tap water (Yin).  This division with Yin and Yang can happen, infinitely.

3.  Mutually, Yin and Yang create each other.  Even though they can be distinguished, they can never be separated from each other, without the occurance of death.  You cannot be describing an aspect of one, without defining the other.  How can you speak of the temperature of hot, without the knowledge of cold?

4.  Yin and Yang control each other.  When there is too much of one, there is deficiency in the other.  When they are in balance, they are holding each other in check.  They balance each other.

5.  Yin and Yang transform into each other.  This can happen by the normal course of events  – Winter (Yin) into Spring (Yang), or the sudden transformation of a disharmonious event – a building on fire (Yang) that burns down to coals/ashes (Yin).  Yin and Yang are always transforming into each other.  If they weren’t, then night could never turn into day.

When God created the world, He said; “Let there be Light”, and He saw that the light was good.  God then separated the Light from the darkness.  God called the light ‘day’, and the darkness, ‘night’.  Thus, evening came, and morning followed – the first day.  GN 1:3-5.

Mary E.K. Denison, L.Ac., M.Om, NCCAOM, CCP www.BeautifyNaturally.com www.mitzi.byregion.net