by Steve Goodman
The very essence of traditional Chinese medicine is qi. Loosely translated, ‘qi’ means “vital energy”. But it is far more than that. In the TCM tradition, qi is thought of as the essence that animates all things. In the human body, qi flows through meridians, or energy pathways. It is over this network that qi travels through the body and that the body’s various organs send messages to one another.1 It is by properly stimulating these meridians through the TCM practices of acupuncture, qi gong, and herbal medications, that the TCM practitioner increases qi flow. Through proper training, people can develop a sensitivity to feel the flow of qi, and find other methods to raise, restore, or enhance the flow of qi.
The major modalities of TCM, acupuncture, herbal medication, and qi gong are all used to restore and raise qi in general, and replenish specific levels of qi that have been depleted manifesting in specific disease conditions or disorders.
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).3 A TCM practitioner also has the knowledge and ability to pinpoint which organs have an energy deficiency. Another major condition described in TCM is “qi stagnation,” which means energy and information cannot move smoothly to or from its appropriate location. For example, TCM considers pain, headaches, and stomachaches the result of qi stagnation.1
In general, you can strengthen your qi by eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep.3 The specific application of the TCM practices of acupuncture, herbal teas, oral herbal medications, meditation, and qi gong when used regularly will restore qi. These practices can boost your vitality and health and also help reverse the aging process.2 According to TCM theory, in order to have good health you must have sufficient qi. Your internal organs must work together in harmony. If there isn’t enough qi, one or more organs will be in a state of imbalance and develop energy function disorders, which manifest as illness and disease states.
Qi is the fuel of life. If you have an abundance of qi you will have a strong immune system, increased vitality, and overall good physical and emotional health.