page contents My title page contents

The Dynamics of Qi

by Michael

Chinese Medicine 210x300 The Dynamics of QiWhat is Qi?

In the world of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, practitioners talk about Qi, but what exactly IS it?

You can move stuck Qi, Tonify Qi when it’s deficient, sedate excessive Qi and then there’s rebellious Qi when its flowing in the wrong direction, but what does that all mean?

The ancient classical definition of qi is an “air like vapour”. Many journalists’ articles claim Qi is simply “energy” and other definitions include “Life force” or “Vitality”. When I started learning about Chinese Medicine, I was curious about what Qi was, where it was in the body and how it worked. Only by treating patients in clinic, and applying the time tested theory of Chinese Medicine did I start to see predictable patterns in how Qi worked.

I would say that Qi can be all of the above definitions. I know this can confuse the Western way of thinking, so I will try to explain!

Qi takes many forms in the body. Water is a good analogy for Qi, taking many shapes and forms and mirrors the similar dynamics of Qi.

For example, like Qi, Water can be stagnant and cause problems including dampness or toxicity, it can be deficient in the case of drought, it can flood and cause destruction, and counterflow (think of a blocked drainpipe), it can be light taking the form of mist, it sometimes has a flow rate and force as in hydro dynamics and is essential to support and sustain life. Qi can do all of this too, but all from inside the body. This is how and why the ancient concept of Qi is relevant to modern day health and wellness.

To illustrate this, in the body, when Qi is stuck, you can get symptoms of pain in a particular part of the body such as headaches, bloating, constipation and feelings of tension, frustration and “stuckness” in life or work.

When qi is deficient you will see signs of fatigue, lethargy and wanting to sleep too much, digestion will be weak, resulting in loose bowel movements and undigested food. Craving sweets to source quick hits of energy will be common here as well as a weak or quiet voice

Excessive Qi could manifest in someone who feels like they’re running hot all the time, kicks the covers off, has a red face most days, a fiery temper with a short fuse that yells a lot. Frequent skin breakouts, wide awake at night and trouble sleeping is common in this picture.

Rebellious Qi will show up as Qi going in all the opposite directions from its natural flow, nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, burping, bloating, constipation for many days or weeks at a time.

Let’s look specifically at Lung Qi. Lung Qi does take the form of vapour, if you exhale onto your hand or onto a window pane you will notice moisture. If you can breathe, you’re alive, and that means you have the ability to produce Qi and this in turn sustains your life.

Some of these syndromes are more common than others and seeing a fully trained Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Practitioner will help determine WHAT YOUR Qi is doing.

So How do I find out what my Qi is doing?

80% of my clients come to me with a physical problem that is troubling them and whether its pain, an injury or a digestive complaint, I can read or take your pulses and look at your tongue to check in and see what your qi is doing. If your qi is flat, tired, tense, over active, underactive or stuck in a particular place in your body, it can show up in the pulse and tongue readings.

The other 20% of my clients might not have anything specific wrong with them but just might feel like an energy boost or relaxation treatment. Taking the pulses will still give me an idea about the degree of fatigue, stress or tension. Either way using the pulse and tongue reading can give more insight into what your qi is doing, explain why you feel energetic or tired, and for an acupuncturist will influence the treatment and acupoint or herb selection.

Treatment principles to help people feel better and resolve health problems in TCM have a wonderful simplicity to them. If qi is low, we supplement or tonify it, if Qi is over-active or excessive, we can sedate or calm it, if Qi is blocked we can move it, if Qi is rebellious we can direct it in the right direction. Using acupuncture and herbs, Practitioners can influence and direct the Qi where it needs to go and when its flowing properly, the person will see an improvement in their symptoms and wellness.

”Qi is the energetic, dynamic and changeable aspect of all observable activity in the body. There is no real equivalent in the Western Tradition.” David Legge, Close to The Bone – The Treatment of Musculoskeletal Disorder with Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The concept of Qi is the basis for all teaching about Chinese Medicine, historically and in the modern world. It is a different paradigm of thought to the Western Medical model and intrigues many physicians. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine has been explored and studied in clinical trials by Western Medical minds to find out exactly how and why it works. The concept of Qi is hard to see, look for and analyse. Taking another analogy, Wind is another good way to explain the concept of Qi; you can’t see it, but you can feel it and see how it influences things in contact with it. A tree will bend in the breeze, you can feel it on your face. A TCM Practitioner is constantly using the tongue and pulse to monitor the Qi dynamic and watch how it influences your health.

Speak to a TCM Practitioner to find out more about Qi, or Pulse and Tongue reading and what your Qi is doing today!


Katika Funnell Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Practitioner
B.HSc. TCM(UTS) Cert. TCM(China) DRM Member ATMS 0414 459 659

(02) 9938 1090

The Dynamics of Qi is a post from: Group Fitness Training Sydney

Personal Training

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: