What is Qi?


The true foundation of TCM is Qi, which is loosely translated as vital energy. In TCM, Qi is considered to be the force that animates and informs all things. In the human body, Qi flows through meridians, or energy pathways. Twelve major meridians run through the body, and it is over this network that Qi travels through the body and that the body's various organs send messages to one another. For this reason, keeping the meridians clear is imperative for the body's self-regulating actions to occur. Through proper training, people can develop the sensitivity to feel the flow of Qi.

While it is often described in the West as energy, or vital energy, the term Qi carries a deeper meaning. Qi has two aspects: one is energy, power, or force; the other is conscious intelligence or information. Each Organ System carries its own unique Qi, which allows it to perform its unique functions��1�2both physical (which Western medicine can describe) and energetic (which Eastern medicine can identify). This energetic function also includes an Organ System's relationship with other Organs. (Organ is here capitalized to distinguish the TCM concept of an Organ System and its functions from the Western concept of the physical organ.)

TCM frequently references several major Qi, or energy function, problems. One is an overall "Qi deficiency," which is often described in Western medical terms as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). TCM also has the knowledge and ability to pinpoint which Organs have an energy deficiency. Another major condition is described as "Qi stagnation," which means energy and information cannot move smoothly to or from its appropriate location. For example, TCM considers pain, headache and stomachache the result of Qi stagnation.

In TCM theory, blood and Qi are inseparable. Blood is the "mother" of Qi; it carries Qi and also provides nutrients for its movement. In turn, Qi is the "commander" of the blood. This means that Qi is the force that makes blood flow throughout the body and provides the intelligence that guides it to the places where it needs to be. Blood and Qi also affect one another and have the dynamic ability to transfer various properties back and forth. For example, after labor and delivery, a woman may develop a fever. TCM understands this fever to be related to blood loss, not normally an infection. Losing too much blood causes an overall Qi deficiency. When there is a Qi deficiency, the body cannot function properly and therefore presents with a fever.

Source: Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation


NCCAOM - National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine