Qi is the word which encompasses the meaning of all vital activities and substances in the human body. It is a the "Life Force" of all living things as well as representative of all energy within the universe. It is a word which is not fully understood by the Western mind and therefore it is not always accepted as existing. However, more importantly than dwelling on its definition, it is important to understand Qi through its function, as Qi is the foundation of Oriental Medicine.
Functions of the Qi
Nutritional Function: Ying Qi is the nutrient substance formed from food. Once it has been produced, it circulates within the blood to provide nourishment to the body.
Warming Function: The body's normal temperature is regulated by different kinds of Qi. Fever and chills due to a disturbance from the common cold, for example, is due to the affect of the attack on the body's Wei Qi. The fight that ensues between the pathogen and the Wei Qi result in fever and chills. However, Yang Qi is the Qi that is normally responsible for producing ample heat in the body.
Protecting Function: In Western Medicine we look at the immune system as the body's source of protection against the outside world. In Oriental Medicine, this system is described as Wei Qi. Wei Qi is the body's line of defense against intruding factors. Through strengthening this kind of Qi, the body can become more resistant to disease.
Promoting function: This function of Qi refers to the aspects of Qi which relate to movement, growth, and development of the human body. It also encompasses physiological activities of the organs, blood circulation, and the distribution of body fluid.
Checking function: This function refers to the controlling and regulating aspects of Qi that relate to metabolic processes and body substances such as bleeding, excessive sweating, urination, etc.
There are generally four types of imbalances relating to dysfunction of Qi. They are Qi deficiency, Qi stagnation, Qi sinking, and Qi rebelling.