Monday, April 19, 2010

What is Qi? Part I of TCM Terminology

There are many terms and concepts unique to Traditional Chinese Medicine which can be confusing when first receiving treatment. This article is the first in a series of three to help clear up basic concepts.

What are Yin and Yang?
Yin and Yang are two essential elements which comprise the whole universe. They are used to describe all things in relative terms as nothing is pure yin or pure yang. As illustrated by the yin yang symbol. Yang represents male, day, light, active, heat, fast, exterior while yin represents female, night, dark, passive, cold, slow, interior. Therefore there are yin and yang aspects of Qi, the body, as well as disease. Both yin and yang are always present in the body. When they are out of balance disease results.

What is Qi?
Often described as energy or life force, Qi is more than just energy circulating in your body, originating from a philosophical and cosmological perspective it is the basic substance from which everything on earth originated. The concept of Qi evolved to explain human physiology and subsequently pathology. Qi is the force behind all transformation and change in the universe.

Within the body Qi flows to support life. The physiological functioning of the organs, tissues and systems of the body depend on Qi, of which there are several forms.
Congenital Qi - Qi inherited from parents
Acquired Qi - energy from food and air
Yong Qi - energy that nourishes the body
Wei Qi - energy that protects the body from pathogens.

What are meridians?
Also called jing luo the meridian system is a network of channels that circulate qi and blood through the body. These channels connect the organs, limbs, interior with the exterior the upper and lower parts of the body as well as the right and left.

What are the five vital substances?
Qi is one of the Five vital substances which nourish the body to maintain a healthy state. The other four are listed below
Jing has a few meanings. First it is a persons congenital essence, the fundamental substance constituting the body which has been acquired from the parents. It is also the essence of food which s the substance required for maintaining vital activities. Lastly it is the reproductive essence.

Shen is often translated as spirit which reflects the internal condition of the body externally in the appearance, for example the glow of the skin, the sparkle of the eyes, general demeanour. Shen also includes the mind which refers to the state of consciousness as well as thought. Shen is related to the Heart system which governs all vital activities of the body.

Xue is blood which in TCM is assimilated from food and distributed to nourish the whole body.

Jin Ye
Jin Ye is body fluids such as tears, sweat, saliva, milk, mucus, hydrochloric acid and genital secretions. Jin are the lighter, yang fluids while Ye are the denser, yin fluids.

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