Qi: Energy or Life Force
Qi pronounced "chee".
Qi is difficult to translate into Western language. Fundamentally, Qi is what gives life to the universe. The ancient Chinese philosopher, Zhuang Zi (286 BC) stated that, "Qi gives birth to human beings; where Qi exists there is life, but the absence of Qi is death." Qi is complex as it is an energy that is manifested both physically and spiritually-mentally. Additionally, there are many different types of Qi that affect the mind and body, however, each of these forms are simply different manifestations of one true Qi.
Different Types of Qi
Over 32 types of Qi that have been recognized in literature over the past 2500 years. The major forms of Qi are described below.
1. Yuan Qi - Primary Qi, Source Qi, Original Qi Motive force behind normal organ function, maintains development and growth of the body.
2. Qing Qi – Cosmic Qi Energy of the universe. Includes air, light, electromagnetic forces and other energies within the atmosphere.
3. Zong Qi – Pectoral Qi, Gathering Qi, Ancestral Qi, Chest Qi Energy which controls and promotes respiration and the circulation of Qi and Blood. TCM Blood provides moisture and nourishment to the body and the Zang-fu organs (see below for explanation of Zang-fu).
4. Gu Qi – Food Qi or Food Essence Substance produced from food by the body (in TCM, Spleen). Replenishes Yuan Qi and is the source of post-natal essence.
5. Ying Qi – Nutrient Qi, Nutritive Qi Circulates in the blood vessels and produces Blood, nourishing the entire body. In Western biomedical terms, hemoglobin and other serum proteins.
6. Wei Qi – Defensive Qi Can be thought of as immune function, protecting the integument and underlying musculature from external pathogens; also controls the opening and closing of pores and is in charge of thermoregulation.
7. Zang-fu Qi – Organ Qi
The function of each of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) internal organs. TCM internal organs and their functions vary from the Western biomedical internal organs so will be listed with a capital letter to distinguish between the two. TCM, physiology and pathology are described in terms of these organs. There are 12 organs which are separated into 6 Zang organs (Yin, female) and 6 Fu organs (Yang, male). They are paired as wife and husband with the Zang organs being solid structures while the Fu organs are tubular or hollow. The 6 Zang organs are Lung (LU), Spleen (SP), Heart (HT), Kidney (KI or KID), Pericardium (PC) and Liver (LIV). The Fu organs, listed in order with their paired Zang organ are Large Intestine (LI), Stomach (ST), Small Intestine (SI), Urinary Bladder (BL), Triple Heater (TH) and Gall Bladder (GB). The Triple Heater (aka Triple Burner, Sanjiao) is a topic of controversy as some TCM doctors do not believe it is an actual organ or function, while some believe it to be a passageway for the distribution of Source Qi and Body Fluids. Additionally, some believe it to be the adrenal glands.
8. Jing-Luo Qi – Meridian Qi The function of the actual meridian, which coordinates the activities of the internal organs and communicates between the interior and exterior body. It is the transmission of the acupuncture stimulation by the meridian and is felt as a tingling sensation or energy during acupuncture.
9. Zheng Qi – Antipathogenic Qi, Resistance Qi, Upright Qi Collective term for the various types of Qi that have function in protecting the body from exterior pathogens. In essence, it is the body's comprehensive ability to resist disease.