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March 6, 2024 Jennifer Doran


In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Qi (pronounced “chee”) is a fundamental concept that refers to the vital energy or life force that flows through all living things. It is considered the fundamental energy that animates and sustains life. According to TCM theory, Qi circulates throughout the body along specific pathways called meridians, which connect various organs and tissues.

Qi has several key characteristics:

Vitality: Qi is essential for maintaining vitality and overall well-being. When Qi is abundant and flowing smoothly, a person experiences good health and vitality. Conversely, imbalances or blockages in the flow of Qi can lead to illness or discomfort.

Movement: Qi is dynamic and constantly in motion. It circulates through the body along the meridians, nourishing tissues and organs and supporting their proper function. Physical activity, breathing, and digestion are all processes that involve the movement of Qi.

Balance: In TCM, health is believed to depend on the balanced flow of Qi throughout the body. When Qi is balanced, the body’s systems function harmoniously, and a person experiences optimal health. Imbalances or disruptions in the flow of Qi can lead to health problems.

Transformation: Qi is responsible for the transformation and transportation of substances within the body. It facilitates the digestion and absorption of nutrients, the circulation of blood and fluids, and the elimination of waste products.

Protection: Qi is thought to play a role in protecting the body against external pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and environmental toxins. A strong and healthy Qi is believed to enhance the body’s immune function and resilience to disease.

In TCM theory, acupuncture, herbal medicine, qigong, and other therapies are used to balance and regulate the flow of Qi in the body. Acupuncture, in particular, involves stimulating specific points along the meridians to promote the smooth flow of Qi and restore balance to the body’s energy systems.