The meaning of Qi

ideogramma-qiTraditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)  and so tuina massage and moxa, cannot be separated from the concept of Qi. This concept is deep-rooted in all Eastern cultures. In India it is called Prana, in Japan Ki.

Although there have been several translations for the ideogram Qi, these are all incomplete. One of the most used translation is “vital energy”.

Qi is movement, the essential substance that has the characteristic of the movement. Inside the body it is the most important factor for life. It is the energy that runs through the energetic meridians where acupoints emerge. These points are used in acupuncture, moxa and tuina massage treatments

According to TCM, the main functions of Qi are as follows:

  • it is the driving energy for the organs
  • it warms and ensures temperature control throughout the body, organs and meridians
  • it prevents and protects against the intrusion of external pathogens
  • it contains – blood in the veins, sweat in the skin, urine in the bladder, etc.
  • it allows transformation and metabolism (digestion).

From the above we understand the great importance of Qi.

There are different ways to operate on Qi, to facilitate its free flow, eliminate the blocks, or re-establish a state of energy balance. The most famous is acupuncture, but also tuina massage, moxa, and qi gong are very important and effective.

According to its function or its stage Qi is classified in dozens of forms. Here is a list of the most common.

  • Yuan Qi (Original or Ancestral Qi) – Yuan Qi is said to be the Essence that has been transformed into Qi, or Jing in motion. Yuan Qi has its root in the Kidneys and spread throughout the body under the control of San Jiao. It is the foundation of all the Yin and Yang energies of the body. Yuan Qi, like Prenatal Jing, is hereditary, fixed in quantity, but nourished by Postnatal Jing.
  • Gu Qi (Food Qi) – Gu Qi is the first stage in the transformation of food. Food is first digested by the stomach and then sent to the Spleen to make Gu Qi, still in unusable form.
  • Zong Qi (Gathering Qi) – The Spleen sends Gu Qi up to the Lungs, where (with the help of Yuan Qi and Kidney Qi) it combines with air and transforms into Zong Qi.
  • Zhen Qi (True Qi) – Also called “Normal” Qi. Zong Qi is transformed into Zhen Qi with the help of Yuan Qi. Zhen Qi is the final stage in the transformation and refinement of Qi. It is the Qi that circulates in the channels and nourishes the Organs. Zhen Qi has two different forms, Ying Qi and Wei Qi.
  • Ying Qi (Nutritive Qi) – Ying Qi nourishes the internal organs and the whole body. It is closely related to Blood, and flows with Blood in the vessels as well as in the channels. It is the Qi which is activated by insertion of acupuncture needles.
  • Wei Qi (Protective Qi) – Wei Qi is more Yang than Nutritive Qi. It moves fast, mainly on the skin and at muscles level. It travels both inside and outside the channels. Flows primarily in the superficial layers of the body, especially in the Tendino-Muscular meridians.
  • Zhong Qi (Central Qi) – It is the product of the process of digestion of food made by Stomach and Spleen (Postnatal Essence). Central Qi is another way to define Stomach and Spleen Qi. It is often used to describe the pathological condition where Spleen Qi is deficient and has caused organ prolapse (“Deficiency of Center Qi”).
  • Zheng Qi (Upright Qi) – A general term to describe the various forms of Qi that protect the body from exogenous pathogens. Usually used to describe the fight of the body’s Qi against the invading pathogen.