Healing Traditions Integrated Wellness    
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Basic Principles of Oriental Medicine – Part Two – What is “Qi”?


New and returning patients alike, as well as, new health care consumers I meet often say to me, “Gina – What exactly is “Qi”? This is a frequently asked question in my practice.


My column today focuses on “Qi” - The central concept in Oriental Medicine.


The concept of “Qi” is difficult to define. It is often translated as “breath”, “life-force”, “vitality”, “prana”, “energy” or simply as “that which makes us alive”. If there is no Qi, there is no life. For instance, a wilting flower or plant is lacking Qi; a feeble person with a weak voice both show a lack of Qi; strong, lively, energetic people have plenty of Qi; There is a lot of Qi at a children’s party; and there is a lot of Qi in one's quiet strength.  In illness, the Qi is depleted, causing tiredness, depression, digestive complaints, frequent colds and sicknesses, etc.; or the Qi may be disturbed, causing irritability and bodily over-reactions.


Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine makes a detailed study of Qi, dividing it into several different kinds depending on its function – such as nourishing, moving or protecting, as well as, views the direction (s) it is taking within the body. These different forms of Qi enter the body via the respiratory and digestive systems and are sustained and nourished throughout life via diet, lifestyle and exercise. These forms combine with the body’s congenital energies (the energy one is born with), to provide the body’s Qi, blood, & body fluids necessary for life.


The unobstructed & proper flow of Qi, blood & body fluids throughout the body provides a basis for harmony, balance, health & wellness.
 Along with the notion of Qi, Chinese/Oriental Medicine recognizes a subtle energy system by which Qi is circulated through the body in a network of channels or ‘meridians’.


There are 14 main channels/meridians in the body assigned with acupuncture points, one meridian for each of the 12 inner organs, one meridian along the spine, and another along the mid-line of the abdomen & chest. In addition to the 14 main Meridians/Channels, there are also 8 secondary meridians/channels through which the energy of the body, or “Qi”, moves and flows to nourish the body.  Specifically, the meridians of the body conduct Qi flow between the surface of the body and internal organs.
 When an acupuncture needle is inserted into one of these points, it is the Qi that is being affected.

This interlacing network of meridians is the crux of traditional acupuncture. The Chinese themselves have compared the flow of Qi through the meridian system to water irrigating land: feeding, nourishing, and sustaining the substance through which it flows.  It is similar in some ways to the blood circulation and the nervous system, but is invisible to the eye, although, it can be sensed by a trained practitioner, often felt by the patient and has been charted since more than 4,000 years ago.


By needling the points, the Qi can be ‘tapped’ or affected to influence the state of health. 

 Chinese/Oriental medical procedures may not always be able to diagnose or locate the abnormalities as defined in the Western medical criteria, ie., certain early-staged cancers, which may be better detected by the diagnostic interventions of high technology. Therefore, based on this point of view, in Chinese Medicine, it is said that “Western medicine locates the disease, Oriental medicine treats it”.


Traditional Chinese medicine also heavily stresses and emphasizes preventive measures taken in the patient’s and in one’s health.  A maxim in TCM says, “A top healer treats those when the disease has not yet developed.”
 Chinese/Oriental medicine strives to bring a person’s body into balance using a variety of Treatment methods including: Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Asian Body Work (such as Tuina & Shiatsu), Dietary Therapy and Meditation.

For more information on the Healing Traditions Oriental Medicine and to discuss your personal situation and needs, please call me today at 303-997-9414 or email me at gina@healing-traditions.com or visit me online at www.healing-traditions.com.

If you are ready to take charge of your health and start living your Healthiest and Best life, Full of Vitality, Vigor and Wellbeing, please complete the Become a Patient Form.

American Board of 
Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Certified Practitioner

National Certification
Commission for Acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine

Certified Practitioner




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