Traditional Chinese Medicine has been practiced over thousands of years and revolves around multiple concepts that serve as guiding principles. Qi is one such concept that translates into “vital life force” but the underlying concept of qi goes beyond that simple translation.

According to Classical Chinese Philosophy, qi is the force that makes up all the things in the world and bind them together. Essentially, it’s both everything and nothing.

The concept may seem incomprehensible and inapplicable to medicine and healing but we take a closer look at Qi to understand its concept and philosophy better so we can figure out how it relates to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

The Philosophy of Qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient medicinal practice that hasn’t changed much over the centuries. It revolves around the basic concept that is a vital force of life, called Qi, which surges through the body.

According to the principles of TCM, when there is an imbalance in the Qi, it leads to disease and illness in the body. The imbalance is most commonly thought to be caused by changes in the opposite and complementary forces, known as yin and yang that make up the Qi.

To truly understand the philosophy of qi, it is important to understand the concept of Yin and Yang. Yin is the part of qi that is the physical side of the universe. Yin is the symbol of passivity, earth, cold and femaleness. Yang makes the opposite, interconnected force that is a depiction of the active male attributes and principles in the universe. Yang is active, aggressive, hot and rising.

While the qi philosophy revolves around two opposing forces, it also features two main branches; the physical portion and the insubstantial aspect. The first branch of qi is the physical or nourishing portion that makes up the food, water and air we take in. The other branch is more insubstantial and revolves around the vital fluids and the energy itself that flows through our bodies.

The two parts of qi are related because the things that we take in and make a part of us eventually impact the second which is what has already become a part of us and is then released to continue the life cycle of life.

Any imbalances and interruptions of this flowing force are primarily responsible for most human ailments including physical, mental and emotional and that’s why an understanding of qi is critical to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Maintaining Balance of Qi

As with everything in life, there needs to be a balance between the two primary opposing forces yin-yang which will help you maintain good health.

In case of an imbalance qi resulting from any imbalance of yin and yang, illnesses occur. Each disease or illness reveal varying symptoms according to the type of qi imbalance and whether there is a deficiency or excess of qi. Resolving the imbalance of qi in the body is typically the work around which Traditional Chinese Medicine revolves.

Some of the techniques used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to correct such imbalances include acupuncture, acupressure and tui na.

As mentioned earlier, the imbalance in Qi can be of two types. Either there can be a qi deficiency or excess qi.

According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, qi deficiency can take several forms. It could be a lack of food, water, fresh air, sleep or any other physical things the body needs to function properly. It could also be a lack of social interaction or sufficient mental stimulation and love and care.

On the other hand, excess qi is a result of extensive exposure to environmental toxins such as polluted water and air. It can also be a result of excessive stress, strong negative emotion, extensive physical activity or overeating. In all, anything that you consume or do that’s more than required leads to excess qi.

Types of Qi

Four forms of qi make up life and are found within the human body and are essential to maintain proper balance in all forms.

The four types of qi include the following.

Parental Qi

Parental qi is inherited from the parents at the time of conception. It is then stored in the kidneys.

Pectoral Qi

Pectoral qi, also known as zong qi, is produced by breathing and is stored in the chest area.

Nutritional Qi

This type of qi comes from the food you consume and is responsible for the circulation of nutrients throughout the body.

Defensive Qi

Defensive qi, also known as wei qi, serves the purpose of an opposing force of the nutritional qi. While it derives its energy from eating food but is primarily responsible for protecting the body against illnesses.

Function of Qi

While different qi in the body performs different functions, there are five primary functions of qi that you should know.

The five primary functions of qi include the following:


Responsible for maintaining vital life energy that allows the body to develop and grow properly and perform all its functions in an optimal way.


Qi helps produce energy that generates heat in the body and aids in regulating the body temperature so that it can perform all its normal functions in the right manner.


Qi is also responsible for fighting against external elements such as environmental factors and pathogens that can lead to an illness.


Qi ensures that all the body’s organs and fluids remain in their proper position and regulates the flow of fluids.


Qi helps convert nutrition from food and environment into what your body needs such as blood.

Wrapping it Up

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, good health is only possible when there’s a right balance of qi. In case the balance is lost, Traditional Chinese Medicine practices can help you restore the balance and your health.

Connect with Eden Massage in Fayetteville, NC and learn more about how Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you restore balance in your body. Check out the services provided by Eden Massage online or call today at 910-229-3986.