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The Chinese Medicine Sampler - Qi Anatomy & Physiology

Qi - Anatomy & Physiology

Functions of Qi

Functions of the Qi of the Organs

Spirit - Intangible Qi



Qi or Chi (pronounced chee) is a difficult concept to translate. It’s usually left untranslated because there is no single English word that conveys all parts of the Chinese concept. The word that comes closest is energy. Like energy Qi is the fundamental stuff of the universe. The origins of energy and Qi are both unknown. The origins of both are tied to their cultures’ creation theories. The Taoist creation theory isn’t actually a theory. It’s more a statement of fact than speculation. “From nothing came something.” The Void versus Qi. Yin versus Yang. From Yin & Yang came the Five Elements. From the Five Elements came the Ten Thousand Things (all things in creation).

Neither Qi nor energy can be destroyed, only changed in their forms. Everything is composed of Qi; our bodies, the earth, water, sound, light. The Nei Jing - The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (c.500BC) says “There is no place that Qi is not.”

The Taoist philosopher Wang Chong wrote in 50 A.D. that “Qi produces the human body just as water becomes ice. As water freezes into ice so Qi coagulates to form the human body. When ice melts it returns to water. When people die they return to spirit”. Zhang Zai, a contemporary of Wang Chong, expressed a an almost identical version of this concept. “Every birth is a condensation of Qi, every death is a dispersal.”

Qi flows throughout the body in currents or conduits called channels or meridians or in Chinese; jing luo. There are fourteen main channels and these possess the most commonly used acupuncture points. Twelve of these channels connect to a yin or yang organ from which they derive their name.

For example, the Wood Element yin organ is the liver. The liver channel runs from the foot up the inside of the leg, along the center of one-half of the abdomen and goes inside below the sixth rib. Inside it connects to the liver and the gallbladder, goes up through the diapragm, up to the throat, then the eyes and terminates at the vertex of the skull. There are two branches from the liver channel. One which connects to the inside of the lips and one which connects with the lung.


Qi has six main functions.

Produces Motion

Both within the body and moves the body.


e.g. Spleen Qi transforms foods, Kidney Qi fluids.


e.g. Spleen Qi takes nutrients to the muscles. Lung Qi takes fluids to the skin to moisten it.


Yang Qi warms the body.


e.g. Wei Qi keeps out external pathogens.


e.g. Spleen Qi keeps blood in the vessels, Kidney Qi keeps fluids in the bladder.

There are about twenty types of Qi that circulate in human beings. The sum of all these types is called Zhen Qi meaning Upright Qi or Righteous Qi.

When you have the proper amount of Upright Qi and it’s flowing smoothly you have health


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