The Basics of Qi

Functions of Qi

One of the functions of spleen qi is to transform                                      food into qi and blood.
One of the functions of spleen qi is to transform food into qi and blood.

Although many types of specialized qi exist in the body, such as those associated with a particular organ, all varieties share some basic functions. These functions are as follows:

  • Transformation: Qi transforms one type of substance into another. Spleen qi transforms food into qi and blood the body can use; kidney qi transforms fluids into pure essence and waste water; lung qi transforms air into the energy to sustain life.
  • Movement: All movement is accompanied by its own qi, including growth and development and even walking, breathing, and thinking. Qi moves the blood through the vessels, giving rise to the saying, "Qi is the commander of the blood."
  • Protection: Qi protects the body from attacks by disease-causing organisms. Therefore, if a person's qi is weak, that person may experience frequent illnesses.
  • Retention: Qi keeps the organs in their proper place, keeps blood within the vessels, and keeps body fluids inside the body. Deficiency of qi can lead to sagging organs (prolapse), bleeding disorders, and excessive sweating or urination.
  • Warming: The yang aspect of kidney qi keeps the entire body warm; when it is deficient, chronic cold extremities and decreased function in all activities that require warmth, such as digestion, can occur.

The source and function of qi determines the type of qi. Learn about the different types of qi in the next section of this article.

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