The concept of Qi is central to Chinese Medicine, to understand Qi is to understand how Acupuncture works. It is commonly translated as ‘life force’ or even ‘breath’. Everything that exists is made of Qi, condensed it is matter, diffused it is energy. It is that which animates the physical body, Qi gives life to the physical body, without it there is death.
Qi exists in every cell and flows in pathways called ‘meridians‘. It is the energy we derive from food and drink and also breath. Within the body, Qi in a more condensed form can be seen as blood, muscles, viscera etc. In a more ethereal form it is that which flows through the body like electricity, all the body’s sensations derive from Qi. It is the electromagnetic energy within the body.
Meridian Qi is manipulated with Acupuncture needles. By placing needles in specific places, the Acupuncturist is able to stimulate or calm the flow of Qi, as well as alter the quality. Through these actions balance can be reacquired.
The Qi in health
There are many different types of Qi, from super refined Qi in the brain to coarse Qi in the deeper meridians of the body. The role of Qi in the body is to move, protect, hold, warm, nourish and transform. The different types of Qi stem from the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The nature of the five elements is as follows: Wood is expansive (centripetal), metal is contractive (centrifugal), fire is hot (moves upwards), water is coldness (moves downwards) and lastly earth (mildly centrifugal). Together, they cover every tissue and function in the body. Each internal organ has its own type of Qi. It is the metallic Qi in the lungs which has the ability to remove carbon dioxide. It is the wood Qi in the colon which gives it peristaltic action. It is the earth Qi in the walls of the cardiovascular system that gives it integrity. It is the wood Qi that is responsible for the ciliated epithelia in the fallopian tubes that move the egg. It is the fire Qi in the Stomach that starts the digestion process, and so on. Detailed knowledge of the Qi down to a cellular level, has been discovered. This enables Acupuncturists to work with a specificity that is surprising to the layman and one reason it is so powerful.
Qi in Pathology.
Many influences can harm the meridians: hereditary factors, climate, habits, emotions, trauma, burns, viruses, bacteria, medication, stress, over work, smoking, alcohol, diet, electromagnetic radiation, environmental toxins (like petrol fumes or other chemicals), vaccinations, recreational drugs, etc etc, the list is endless. However, Qi only malfunctions in two different ways: Diminished quantity of Qi and/or wrong quality Qi (or perverse Qi). These two pathological states cause all disease. Naturally Acupuncture can address both.