What is Qi?

By November 2, 2011Acupuncture 101
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This is a question that I get asked constantly. The concept of qi (pronouced chi in Chinese Medicine) is not an easy one to translate into a western medical definition or in plain English even. There are many different words to describe qi: energy, life force, nerve pathways, or if you’re a Star Wars fan “the Force.” But it is all of these and none of these. It is a concept that is more familiar in other cultures. Qi is the invisible vital energy inside every living thing that activates it.

So why is qi important? It is what we all need to wake-up in the morning, power through our day, to go to sleep at night. Kids use to grow, mother’s use it to give birth – it’s inside every living thing.

In Chinese Medicine, a practitioner seeks to alleviate imbalances of the Qi that may occur in the body. If anyone tells you your qi is blocked, it is deficient, scattered, etc. It really just means that your body is in a state of imbalance. With some fine tuning, using acupuncture, herbs, food therapy and exercise, a practitioner is able to help someone achieve greater balance and gain an optimum level of health.

Q: What does someone mean when they say I have weak qi? This doesn’t make sense, I feel fine.
A: While you may feel fine, there may be things that don’t “work great” for you. Maybe you don’t sleep well. Maybe you eat a lot of poor quality food. Maybe you have gone through a period of hardship in your life. It can be anyone of these reasons and many more. When a person has weak qi, it doesn’t mean that they are “weak” per se. It really just means that things aren’t running at their fullest potential. So maybe you could use some more sleep, better digestion, a better relationship or a little exercise. Most cases of weak qi can be resolved with some simple measures. So don’t despair. It doesn’t sound good to be told that your life-force is weak, but that’s not what it is. It’s just a way of saying that there’s something we need to work on. Because as I’m sure you all know, we always have room for improvement!

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