Understanding TCM: Qi氣
You may have heard a mysterious term ‘Qi’ (or ‘Chi’, pronounced ‘Chee’) when you learn about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Some of you may find the concept vague as Qi is invisible and it cannot be accurately measured. In this article we will break down such a complex idea into easy-to-understand chunks.
What is the basic concept of Qi?
Generally speaking, Qi is the vital energy in all living matter. It is a fundamental and essential force that flows through the body. A balanced movement of Qi helps to regulate and strengthen the body.
What are the functions of Qi?
Promotion: Qi is the vital energy necessary for all kinds of movement and growth in our bodies. It also assists in the formation and transformations of blood and body fluid.
Warmth: Qi provides warmth and helps to maintain a constant temperature for the body.
Protection: Qi participates in body’s defense against climatic evils (environmental factors that could lead to illness).
Consolidation and retention: Qi prevents organ prolapse and keeps blood flowing within the vessels.
How do you know when Qi is out of balance?
By now, you should understand how critical Qi is to our health. Any Qi disharmony (excess, deficiency or even stagnation) can cause disorders and discomforts in our bodies.
People with Qi deficiency are likely to feel fatigue, dizziness and loss of appetite. For people who have excess Qi, they might be stressed, irritable and headache. Qi stagnation is also a very common medical condition that causes mood swing, painful period and muscle pain.
How to keep Qi balanced in our body?
Healthy lifestyles such as getting adequate restful sleep at night and having good eating habits (e.g. avoiding raw, cold food, and iced beverages) are important for Qi harmony.
It is also crucial to take care of your mental health. If you often feel stressed or depressed, you may try some mind-body techniques and gentle exercises (e.g. Tai Chi, Qi Gong, meditation and yoga).
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can improve the flow of Qi and balance patient’s energy flow. When a needle is inserted to an acupoint, sometimes you may even feel the movement of Qi along the meridians!
If you are not feeling your best, you may be experiencing Qi imbalance. When in doubt, it can be useful to seek professional help. Besides treating the symptoms, remember to find out the root causes of the imbalance too.