The Basics of Qi

Disorders of Qi

Chinese medicine seeks to ensure that the levels, direction, and flow of qi are all appropriate for their particular organs. The various disorders of qi that can occur involve deficiency, sinking, stagnation, or incorrect movement of qi.

Qi Deficiency

The symptoms of qi deficiency are common to all the types of qi disorders: fatigue, pallor, and lethargy. When the qi of an organ is deficient, the specific functions of that organ are also impaired.

For example, the spleen is responsible for appetite and digestion; spleen qi deficiency produces poor appetite and loose stools. Lung qi is responsible for the strength of respiration; when it is deficient, a person experiences shortness of breath and a chronic cough. Treatment focuses on strengthening, or tonifying, the qi of the affected organs.

Sinking Qi

In disorders of sinking qi, the qi that holds organs in place has insufficient strength to do its job. The result is sagging, prolapsed organs, such as the uterus, transverse colon, or rectum. Specific acupuncture points and herbs can correct this type of imbalance.

Stagnant Qi

Stagnant Qi

When qi is stagnant, the functions of an organ are impaired due to a blockage in its qi flow. The liver is the organ most often affected by qi stagnation. Since the liver is in charge of the smooth flow of emotion, stagnant liver qi frequently results in irritability and anger. Because there is sufficient qi, tonifying in these cases would make the situation worse, so treatment focuses on moving qi away from the area.

Rebellious Qi

Rebellious Qi

In rebellious qi, the normal direction of organ qi is reversed. Each organ has a normal direction of qi flow; for example, the lungs and stomach move qi downward, while the spleen moves qi upward. Rebellious lung qi results in coughing or wheezing; rebellious stomach qi produces symptoms of nausea, belching, or vomiting; and rebellious spleen qi produces diarrhea.

Qi is just one aspect of the body's functions that traditional Chinese medicine addresses. Learn more about the other vital substances considered during treatment in the next section of this article.

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