Traditional Chinese Medicine Vital Substances

Traditional Chinese Medicine Vital Substances

The Vital Substances are Jing (Essence), Xue (Blood), Jin Ye (Body Fluids), Qi (Life Force), they travel through the body's pathways to help the body maintain its health state.

The Vital Substances are as follows:

Jing (Essence)

The refined and precious substance that is the material basis for all life.
It influences our constitution, reproduction, growth and development, and our longevity.
It is the foundation for the production of Qi and aids in the production of marrow.
There is both Prenatal and Postnatal Jing.

Xue (Blood)

Blood is the densest of the vital substances, flowing through the vessels to moisten and nourish the Yin Yang organs, the tendons and muscles, the skin, and the sensory organs.
Blood is the mother of Qi, and houses the Shen (Mind).

Jin Ye

Origins, functions, and Yin Yang organ relationships for the thin light and watery fluids of the body, as well as the more dense and heavy fluids of the body.

Qi (Vital Energy or Life Force)

Qi is the vital energy or life force that flows through the body's Meridians, Yin Yang organs, and is responsible for moving the blood.

Forms of Qi
1. Yuan Qi (Original Qi, Ancestral Qi)
2. Gu Qi (Food or Nourishment Qi)
3. Kong Qi (Air Qi)
4. Zong Qi (Gathering Qi, Big Qi of the Chest)
5. Zhen Qi (True Qi)
6. Zhong Qi (Central Qi)
7. Zheng Qi (Upright Qi)

Functions and Movements of Qi
Qi can;

1. Transform
2. Transport
3. Hold
4. Raise
5. Protect
6. Warm

Qi also has a normal flow or direction of movement associated with each Yin Yang organ.

Jing (Essence)

Jing, translated as Essence, a very precious substance, should be guarded and not wasted.

  • Prenatal Jing
  • Postnatal Jing
  • Kidney Jing

Prenatal Jing (Pre-Heaven Essence)
At conception, the Prenatal Jing is passed to the foetus from the parents.
Prenatal Jing (together with an energy derived from the Kidneys of the mother) nourishes the foetus during pregnancy.
Prenatal Jing determines basic constitution, strength, and vitality. It is fixed in quantity, determined at birth: it cannot be added to, only conserved and used up more slowly. It is stored in the Kidneys.
The way to conserve Prenatal Jing is by striving for balance in all life activities. Balance meaning moderation in diet, work/rest, sexual activity. Irregularity or excess in these areas wastes Prenatal Jing.
Certain exercises help conserve Prenatal Jing, such as breathing exercises, Taiji (Tai Chi), and Qi Gong.

Postnatal Jing (Post-Heaven Essence)

After birth, the child begins eating, drinking, and breathing independently. Its Lungs, Spleen and Stomach then begin functioning to extract and refine Qi from the food and drink it consumes and the air it breathes.
Postnatal Jing is the complex of essences thus refined and extracted. Postnatal Jing depends on the functions of Stomach and Spleen.
Jing, translated as Essence, is a very precious substance, which should be guarded and not wasted.

Two main kinds:
1. Prenatal Jing (Pre-Heaven Essence) and
2. Postnatal Jing (Post-Heaven Essence).

Kidney Jing
1. Kidney Jing plays important role in physiology.
2. Is hereditary, like Prenatal Jing and determines constitution.
3. However, is partly replenished by the Postnatal Jing.
4. Stored in the Kidneys but has fluid nature and circulates all over the body, especially in the Eight Ancestral (Extraordinary) Vessels.
5. Forms the basis for growth, development, sexual maturation, and reproduction.
6. Moves in long, slow cycles, and presides over the major phases of development in life.


Kidney Jing controls growth of bones, teeth, hair, brain development and sexual maturation. Where Kidney Jing is weak, there may be poor bone and teeth development, stunted growth, and mental retardation.


Kidney Jing controls reproductive function and fertility, and normal development into adulthood. Developmental problems that occur at this time such as amenorrhoea, are often related to weak Kidney Jing.

Conception and pregnancy

Guided and controlled by Kidney Jing. Where Kidney Jing is weak, signs such as infertility, chronic miscarriage and other such problems may occur.


Kidney Jing declines naturally, finally producing the characteristic signs of hair/teeth loss, impairment of memory, etc.

Kidney Jing is the basis for Kidney Qi

  • Jing is fluid-like and therefore more Yin. Can be considered as an aspect of Kidney Yin.
  • Forms the material basis for production of Kidney Qi (via the warming action of Kidney Yang. Kidney Yin is warmed by Kidney Yang and Kidney Qi is formed, but Kidney Jing is necessary before this transformation can occur.
  • Deficiency of Kidney Jing can thus result in such problems as impotence, chronic weak or sore lower back, weak knees, tinnitus, urinary incontinence, deafness, loose teeth, etc. (all signs of weak Kidney Qi and/or Yang.)

Kidney Jing produces Marrow

  • Marrow produces bone marrow, the brain, and the spinal cord (Marrow in TCM has no exact equivalent in Western Medicine).
  • The Brain in TCM is called the "Sea of Marrow".
  • Therefore if Kidney Jing is weak, the brain may be undernourished, leading to poor memory/concentration, "empty" feeling in the head, dizziness, etc.

Kidney Jing determines our Constitution

  • Our protection from exterior pathogens depends largely on the strength of a type of Qi: the Defensive (Wei) Qi.
  • However, the state of Kidney Essence also influences our strength and resistance. If the Essence is "wasted" or poorly stored, the person may have lowered immunity to exogenous pathogenic influences and constantly be ill with cold, influenza, allergies, etc.

Essence and Qi are the material foundation for Shen (Mind)

Blood / Xue

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is said;

  • Blood is a denser form of Qi
  • Blood is inseparable from Qi
  • Qi moves Blood; Blood is the mother of Qi
  • Qi gives life and movement to Blood, but Blood nourishes the Organs that produce Qi

Blood and Ying (Nutritive) Qi are particularly closely connected: flow together in the vessels.

The Origin of Blood
1. Food Qi produced by the Spleen is sent upward to Lungs, and Lungs push it to the Heart, where it is transformed into Blood. The transformation requires the assistance of the Original Qi stored in the Kidneys.

2. Kidney Essence produces Marrow: this generates the bone marrow, which contributes to making Blood.

Therefore: Blood is formed from the interaction of the Postnatal Jing (source of Food Qi, refined from Food by Spleen and Stomach) and the Prenatal Jing (stored in Kidneys).

Chinese theory of blood-forming function of the bone marrow predated the arrival of Western Medicine.

1. Nourishes the body: complements the nourishing action of Ying Qi. As a denser form of Qi, it flows with the (Ying) Qi in the vessels and channels all over the body.

2. Moistens body tissues, ensures that they do not dry out. Blood is part of Yin, fluid-like and moistening.

3. Supports the Shen. The Shen is said to live in the Blood Vessels, which are part of the Heart. The Blood nourishes and supports the Shen, giving it a foundation.

Where Blood is deficient, the Shen can become uneasy, with symptoms of vague anxiety, slight irritability, unease and inability to fall asleep.

Relationship of Blood with the Internal Organs

The Heart
1. The Heart governs the Blood. The Blood Vessels (tissue associated with the Heart and part of the whole system of the Heart in TCM) are where it circulates.
2. The Blood is made in the Heart, via the Heart Fire (Yang). Blood on the other hand, cools the Fire and prevents it from flaring up.

The Spleen
1. Spleen produces Food Qi, which is the basis for the formation of Blood.
2. Spleen Qi keeps the Blood in the Vessels so that it does not extravasate.

(Deficient Spleen Qi can result in Qi being unable to hold the Blood, resulting in haemorrhages).

The Liver
1. The liver stores the Blood.
2. When person is active, Blood flows to the muscles and tendons (governed by the Liver). When a person lies down, Blood flows back to Liver.
3. Liver Blood moistens the eyes, ensuring good eyesight and also moistens the sinews, promoting flexibility of joints.
4. Liver Blood supplies the uterus with Blood, together with the Penetrating Vessel (Chong Mai - one of the eight Extraordinary or Ancestral Vessels), with which it is closely related. Therefore Liver Blood is very important for regular and healthy menstruation.

The Liver, Blood, and Gynaecology

  • Kidneys store Jing and Liver stores Blood.
  • Kidneys are the mother of the Liver in 5 Element theory.
  • Jing and Blood mutually support each other.
  • Jing is indirectly transformed into Blood, and Blood nourishes and replenishes Jing.
  • Kidney Jing controls reproductive function and influences Blood. (Kidney Jing creates Liver Blood).

Women's physiology is more dependent on Blood than that of men.

State of Liver Blood is very important regarding menstruation.

E.g., if Liver Blood deficient, this can cause amenorrhoea or scanty menstruation.
E.g., if Liver Blood is stagnant, this can cause dysmenorrhoea.

1. Assist Spleen in sending Food Qi to the Heart to form Blood.
2. Control the channels and Blood Vessels by filling the Blood Vessels with Qi to assist the Heart's pushing action.

1. Original Qi (stored in Kidneys) is needed to transform Food Qi into Blood.
2. Kidney stores Jing, which produces Marrow. Marrow generates bone marrow, which contributes to the formation of Blood.

To nourish Blood in TCM, we must, therefore, tonify (increase the energy of) the Spleen and Kidneys.

However, the Heart, Spleen & Liver have the most direct relationship with the Blood: Heart governs Blood, Spleen holds Blood in the Vessels and the Liver stores Blood.

Body Fluids (Jin Ye)
The word "Jin" means anything liquid or fluid. The word "Ye" means fluids of living organisms. Jin Ye = organic fluids.


These fluids are clear, light, thin and watery, and circulate in the exterior of the body (skin and muscles) with the Wei Qi.
Under control of the Lungs, which disseminate them to the skin and of the Upper Burner, which controls their transformation and movement.

To moisten and partly to nourish skin and muscles. (sweat, tears, saliva.
To form a compound of Blood (thin out the Blood and prevent its stasis)

These are the more turbid, dense, and heavy fluids, and they circulate in the interior of the body with the Ying (Nutritive) Qi.
More relatively slowly.
Under control of (transformed by) Spleen and Kidneys, moved and excreted by Middle and Lower Burner.


To moisten the joints, spine, brain, bone marrow. Lubricate the "orifices of the sense organs" i.e. eyes, ears, nose and mouth

Origin of Jin Ye (Body Fluids)

  • Body Fluids originate from food and drink.
  • They enter the body via the Stomach, which is said to be the origin of fluids.
  • The Fluids are transformed and separated into "pure" and "impure" (turbid) parts several times. Intricate series of purification processes.
  • Pure body fluids are raised upward to the Lungs for distribution to the exterior. Impure fluids flow downward, finally excreted via the bladder.

Relationship with the Internal Organs

The origin of fluids. Fluids first enter the Stomach where they are transformed and separated into pure and impure.
Pure part goes to Spleen, impure part goes to Small Intestine and further separation. Stomach said to be "source" of body fluids.

Very important in relation to physiology and pathology of Body Fluids.
Controls the direction of flow of Fluids: pure parts upward and impure parts downward at all stages of the transformation process.
The Spleen is treated in any kind of disorder of the Body Fluids.

Control dispersion of pure part of Body Fluids (coming from Spleen) to the space under the skin.
Send part of fluids down to the Kidneys & Bladder.
Said to "regulate the Water Passages".

Extremely important in the physiology of Blood Fluids. Vaporize some of the fluids they receive and send back to Lungs to moisten Lungs.

Kidney Yang controls many stages of the transformation of fluids;

1. Provides heat for Spleen to transform Body Fluids.
2. Assists Small Intestine in its function to separate pure and impure Body Fluids.
3. Provides Qi to Bladder for its function of Qi transformation.
4. Assists Triple Burner (San Jiao) transformation and excretion of fluids.

Separates fluids it receives into pure and impure.
Excretes urine with help of Kidney Yang.

San Jiao (Triple Burner)
Assists transformation, transportation and excretion of fluids at all stages.

1. Upper Burner: is compared to a "mist": Lungs disperse fluids to the space under the skin.

2. Middle Burner: is compared to a "muddy pool" (also to a "foam"). Stomach churns fluids and directs impure part to Small Intestine and pure part to Spleen.

3. Lower Burner:
compared to a "drainage ditch" or "swamp". Small Intestine separates pure from impure, Bladder and Kidneys transform, separate and excrete fluids.

The relationship between Qi and the Jin Ye

Qi transforms and transports fluids, otherwise, fluids accumulate.

Qi holds the body fluids in, as it does with the blood. When the Qi is deficient, fluids can leak out.

· Kidney Yang Deficiency causing Enuresis
· Lung Qi Deficiency causing Spontaneous Sweating
· Spleen Qi Deficiency causing Chronic Vaginal Discharge

Qi is also dependant on Fluids, and a loss of Fluids can result in a deficiency of Qi

· Excessive sweating causes a loss of Defensive (Wei) Qi along with the Fluids.
· Excessive vomiting depletes Qi.
· Relationship between Blood and the Jin Ye

Mutual nourishment
1. Body Fluids constantly replenish Blood and "thin it out" so that it does not coagulate. "If Body Fluids are harmonized they turn red and are transformed into Blood."

2. Blood also nourishes Body Fluids: both are Yin. Hence loss of Fluids, e.g. in excessive perspiration, can cause Deficient Blood. Conversely, chronic blood loss can cause loss of Fluids and dryness.

Blood & Body Fluids have the same source and mutually nourish each other. In treatment, one should never cause sweating where a patient is bleeding or if there is significant Deficiency of Blood. Also one should never let blood when a patient is sweating.

Qi (Vital Energy or Life Force)

  • It has been translated as "vital energy", "life force", or "Breath" but no single English word will suffice.
  • This is because of the nature of Qi. It can have different manifestations in different situations.
  • Qi can even be material and is said to "condense" into matter. This is what occurs according to TCM, when a child is conceived and a human being develops.
  • Qi condenses to form a material being.
  • In pathology, when Qi flow slows down and stagnates, masses, lumps or tumours can appear.
  • The concept of Qi representing a continuum between immaterial and material is not so far from the concepts of matter and energy in modern physics.
  • Matter is not "solid", but its particles are vibrating at various speeds; the faster they vibrate, the more rarefied the matter becomes. In the same way, the manifestations of Qi cover the continuum of matter-energy.
  • Characters for Qi mean "vapour" or "steam" and "uncooked rice".
  • This illustrates that Qi can appear in different states ranging from more immaterial like steam to dense and material like rice.
  • It also illustrates a central idea in TCM, that the major source of Qi is transformed from the food that we put into our bodies.

Overview of Qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Ancient philosophers saw human Qi as the result of the interaction between the Qi of Heaven (Yang) and Earth (Yin). They stressed the interaction between a human being's Qi and the forces of nature.

TCM, following these ancient philosophies, stresses the relationship between human beings and natural forces, both cosmic and local (the environment).

  • We are under the influence of natural rhythms and cycles, (lunar, circadian and solar cycles) with which we should strive to stay in balance in order to maintain health.
  • We are susceptible to pathological conditions resulting from an attack by pathological climatological energies (Xie Qi) (wind, cold, damp, heat, summer heat and dryness).

1. Qi manifests both on the physical and spiritual/psychological level.

2. Qi is in a constant state of flux and its immaterial/material state constantly varies. When Qi condenses, it accumulates to form physical shape.

Poor circulation of Qi in the body can result in condensation of Qi to form lumps, masses or tumours.

Although there are many types of Qi in human beings, all these types are ultimately one Qi, manifesting in different forms.

3. Qi changes form according to its locality and function.


1. Qi is a refined substance produced by the internal Organs, to nourish the body, mind and spirit (its form varies according to its location and function).

2. The word Qi is also used to mean the complex of functional activities of a given internal organ.

When we say Spleen Qi, we mean the complex of the functional activities of the Spleen.

Defensive Qi circulates primarily in the Exterior to protect the body. Nutritive Qi circulates in the Interior, to nourish the Organs. These two are different manifestations of Qi. When either is unable to perform its functions, specific pathological symptoms will result.

The various forms of Qi are discussed below. However, it is first important to understand another vital substance: JING.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi has six major functions in the human body;

1. Transform
2. Transporting/pushing
3. Hold
4. Raise
5. Protect
6. Warm

  • Included in its pushing function are activities such as the movement of blood through the vessels and Qi through the meridians.
  • The warming function of Qi is the result of its movement and includes the warming of the Zang-Fu Organs, the channels, the skin, muscles and tendons.
  • The primary defending action of Qi is prevention from the invasion of external pathogenic factors.
  • The controlling function of Qi is what keeps blood in the vessels, and is in charge also of creating the appropriate amount of secretions such as sweat, urine, gastric juice and sexual fluids.
  • The transforming function of Qi has to do with the body’s larger metabolic processes, for instance, the transformation of food into nutrients and wastes.

How Are The Major Forms Of Qi Created Within The Body?
According to Chinese Medicine, the energy used to sustain our bodies is of two major types;

(1) Congenital (or Prenatal) Qi

(2) Acquired (or Postnatal) Qi.

Congenital Qi is the Qi we were born with – the energy/intelligence that we inherited from our parents, and that is associated with DNA and RNA codes (our “karma” from previous lives). Congenital Qi includes both Jing/Essence and Yuan Qi (Original Qi), and is stored in the Kidneys.

Acquired Qi, on the other hand, is the Qi that we generate within our lifetime from the air that we breathe, the food that we eat, and qigong practice, and is associated primarily with the Lung and Spleen Organ-Systems.

If our eating and breathing patterns are intelligent, and our qigong practice strong, we can generate a surplus of Acquired Qi, which can then be used to supplement our Congenital Qi.

Included within the category of Acquired (Postnatal) Qi are:
(1) Gu Qi – the essence of the food we eat;
(2) Kong Qi – the energy of the air that we breathe;
(3) Zong Qi (also called Pectoral Qi or Gathering Qi) – which is the combination of Gu Qi and Kong Qi;
(4) Zheng Qi (also called True Qi) – which includes both Ying Qi (also called Nutritive Qi), which is the Qi that flows through the meridians, and Wei Qi (also called Defensive Qi).

The terminology is complex, but basically what is being described is the process by which the food that we eat and the air that we breathe are metabolised internally, to produce the Qi that flows through the meridians, and the Qi that flows outside of the meridians as protection.

It works something like this;
The food that we eat is processed by the Spleen/Stomach Organ-System to produce Gu Qi.

The air that we breathe is processed by the Lung Organ-System to produce Kong Qi.

The essence of the food (Gu Qi) is sent up to the chest where it mixes with the essence of the air (Kong Qi) to produce Zong Qi.

Supported by Yuan Qi (Congenital Qi, stored in the Kidneys), Zong Qi is then transformed into Zheng Qi (True Qi), which in its yin aspect becomes Ying Qi (Meridian/nutritive Qi Qi) and in its yang aspect becomes Wei Qi (which protects us from external pathogens).

Forms of Qi

1. Yuan Qi (Original Qi, Ancestral Qi)
2. Gu Qi (Food or Nourishment Qi)
3. Kong Qi (Air Qi)
4. Zong Qi (Gathering Qi, Big Qi of the Chest)
5. Zhen Qi (True Qi)
6. Zhong Qi (Central Qi)
7. Zheng Qi (Upright Qi)

Yuan Qi

Yuan Qi is said to be Essence that has been transformed into Qi, or Jing in motion.
Yuan Qi has it's root in the Kidneys and spread throughout the body by the San Jiao (Triple Burner). It is the foundation of all the Yin and Yang energies of the body.
Yuan Qi, like Prenatal Jing, is hereditary, fixed in quantity, but nourished by Postnatal Jing.

Yuan Qi Functions:

  • It is the dynamic force that motivates the functional activity of the internal organs and is the foundation of vitality.
  • It circulates all over the body in the channels, relying on the transporting system of the San Jiao (Triple Burner).
  • It is the basis of Kidney Qi, and dwells between the two Kidneys, at the Gate of Vitality (Ming Men).
  • It facilitates the transformation of Qi.
  • Yuan Qi is the spark of change, transforming Zong Qi into Zhen Qi.
  • Yuan Qi participates in the production of blood by facilitating the transformation of Gu Qi into Blood.
  • It emerges and stays at the 12 Source points.

Gu Qi (Food Qi)

  • Gu Qi is the first stage in the transformation of food. Food is first "Rotted and Ripened" by the stomach and then sent to the Spleen to make Gu Qi, still in unusable form.
  • Gu Qi is sent from the Middle Burner (housing the Spleen and Stomach) to the Upper Burner (housing the Lungs and Heart), where it combines with air to form Zong Qi.
  • Part of the Gu Qi from the Middle Burner is also sent to the Lungs, then passes to the Heart, where (with the help of Yuan Qi and Kidney Qi), it is transformed into Blood.

Kong Qi
Air is breathed in and transformed into Kong Qi.

This is a similar process to the western medical idea of the gaseous exchange that occurs in the alveoli of the lungs.

Zong Qi (Gathering Qi)

The Spleen sends Gu Qi up to the Lungs, where (with the help of Yuan Qi and Kidney Qi) it combines with Kong Qi (air Qi) and transforms into Zong Qi.

Zong Qi Functions:

  • Nourishes the Heart and Lungs and forms the basis for the involuntary functions of heartbeat and respiration.
  • Zong Qi (Gathering Qi) assists the Lungs in controlling Qi and respiration and the heart's function of governing the Blood and Blood Vessels. If Zong Qi (Gathering Qi) is weak, the extremities, especially the hands, will be weak or cold.
  • Gathers in the throat and influences speech (which is under the control of the Heart) and the strength of voice (under control of Lungs). The strength of Zong Qi can be determined from the health of Heart, Lungs, and from circulation and voice. Weak Zong Qi: Weak voice, weak circulation to hands.
  • Easily affected by emotional problems. For example, grief weakens the Lungs and disperses energy in the chest.
  • Zong Qi and Yuan Qi mutually assist each other. Zong Qi flows downward to aid the Kidneys. Yuan Qi flows upward to aid in respiration (and the formation of Zong Qi).

Zhen Qi (True Qi)
Also called "Normal" Qi.
Zong Qi is transformed into Zhen Qi with the help of Yuan Qi.
Zhen Qi is the final stage in the transformation and refinement of Qi.
It is the Qi that circulates in the channels and nourishes the organs.
Zhen Qi has two different forms, Ying Qi and Wei Qi.

Ying Qi (Nutritive Qi)
Ying Qi nourishes the internal organs and the whole body. It is closely related to Blood, and flows with Blood in the vessels as well in the channels.
It is the Qi that is activated by the insertion of an acupuncture needle.
Ying Qi spends two hours in each channel, moving through all twelve channels in a twenty-four hour period. During these periods, the specific organs are nourished and maintained by the Ying Qi.

Wei Qi (Protective Qi)

Wei Qi is more Yang than Nutritive Qi. Fast moving, "slippery" and easily motivated.
Primarily on the Exterior (skin and muscles).
Travels both inside and outside the channels.
Flows primarily in the superficial layers of the body, especially in the Tendino-Muscular meridians.

Wei Qi Functions:

  • To protect the body from attack by exogenous (coming from outside) pathogenic influences e.g., Wind, Cold, Heat, Dampness).
  • To warm, moisten and aid in nourishing skin and muscles.
  • To adjust opening and closing of pores (thus regulating sweating and regulating the body temperature).

Wei Qi is controlled by the Lungs, which regulates its circulation to the skin. Lungs also disseminate fluids to moisten the skin and muscles. These fluids mix with Wei Qi. (Perspiration function depends on the Lungs ability to circulate Wei Qi and fluids to the exterior).

Deficient Wei Qi can lead to spontaneous sweating (pores not correctly opened and closed, so that the fluids escape).

When an exogenous pathogen (e.g., Wind-Cold) invades the Exterior, the pathogen can block the pores, inhibiting the function of the Wei Qi, and blocking sweating. The treatment is to restore the Lungs' function of dispersing, strengthen the Wei Qi and produce sweating, to expel the pathogen. In the early stages of a Wind-Cold pathogenic invasion, treatment principles are to promote sweating.

Circulation of Wei Qi

  • Wei Qi has a complex circulation pattern, of 50 cycles during a 24 hour period, 25 times in the day and 25 at night.
  • In the daytime, Wei Qi circulates in the Exterior, but at night it goes into the Interior and circulates in the Yin Organs.
  • From midnight to noon, the Wei Qi is exteriorising, and is at its maximum strength on the Exterior at noon.
  • From noon to midnight, the Wei Qi gradually withdraws into the Interior, to protect the Yin Organs.
  • This is why one is more apt to catch a cold at night rather than in the daytime since the Wei Qi has withdrawn to the Interior at night.
  • Sleeping under an open window at night, for example, gives exogenous pathogens a better chance for attack than during the daytime, since the Exterior of the body is less well protected.

Zhong Qi (Central Qi)
This is the Qi that is derived from food by the Stomach and Spleen (Postnatal Essence).
Central Qi is another way to define Stomach and Spleen Qi, i.e., the Qi of the Middle Jiao (the Centre).
It is often used to describe the pathological condition where the Spleen Qi is deficient and has caused organ prolapse ("Deficiency of Centre Qi").

Zheng Qi (Upright Qi)

A general term to describe the various forms of Qi that protect the body from exogenous pathogens.
Usually only used when contrasting the strength of the body's Qi with the strength of the invading pathogen.

Movement of Qi

The harmonious functions of the organs and various types of Qi rely partly on the correct direction of Qi movement. Qi has to flow in the right direction: exiting-entering and ascending-descending.


  • Control respiration: inhale clear air Qi & exhale impure Qi.
  • Control dispersing of Wei Qi to the skin
  • Control the descending of Qi: send Qi downward to Kidneys & Bladder and Large Intestine


  • Controls the smooth flow of Qi in all directions, esp. upward.
  • Lungs & Liver balance each other (Lung Qi flows downward, and Liver Qi upward)


  • Control transformation of Water.
  • Impure Fluids flow downward & clear Qi flows upward.
  • Lung Qi descends to Kidneys. Kidney Qi ascends to Lungs.
  • Lungs send Qi down. Kidneys receive Qi.
  • Lung controls exhalation. Kidney controls inhalation.


  • Spleen sends pure Qi upward to Lungs & Heart
  • Stomach sends impure Qi downward for further refinement.
  • Spleen controls transformation, Stomach controls receiving.
  • Therefore ascending of clear Qi and descending of impure Qi depend on ascending of Spleen Qi and descending of Stomach Qi.

Heart and Kidneys

  • The fire of Heart flows downward to meet Water of Kidneys.
  • The water of Kidneys rises to nourish Fire of Heart.
  • Derangement of any of the above directions of Qi flow can cause problems.

Stomach Qi rises instead of descending: nausea, vomiting, belching.

Spleen Qi descends instead of rising: diarrhoea, prolapsed organs

The Functions of Qi

Spleen Qi transforms food into Food Qi.
Kidney Qi transforms Fluids.
Bladder Qi transforms Urine.
Heart Qi transforms Qi into Blood.

Spleen Qi transports Food Qi.
Lung Qi transports Fluids to the skin.
Kidney Qi transports Qi upward.
Liver Qi transports Qi in all directions and upward.
Lung Qi transports Qi downward.

Spleen Qi holds the Blood in the Vessels.
Kidney & Bladder Qi hold urine.
Lung Qi holds sweat.

Spleen Qi raises the Organs (keeps them in place)

Lung Qi (by virtue of circulating Wei Qi) protects the body from exogenous pathogens.


A function of Yang. Kidney Yang in particular and also Spleen Yang warms the body.

The Relationship of Blood and Qi

  • Blood and Qi have a very close relationship.
  • Blood is said to be is a denser form of Qi and more Yin in nature.
  • Qi and Blood are inseparable, and the Ying form of Qi actually circulates with the Blood in the Vessels.
  • While Blood engenders Qi, Qi is said to command or move the Blood.

The dependency of Qi on Blood can be illustrated as follows:

After a patient has experienced heavy Blood loss, they will usually show signs of Qi deficiency, such as weakness, sweating, breathlessness, and fatigue.

The dependency of Blood on Qi can be illustrated as follows:

After prolonged and heavy sweating injures or depletes the Qi, a patient may develop symptoms of Blood deficiency, with symptoms such as pale face, numbness, palpitations, and dizziness.

Qi Generates Blood
Food Qi is the basis for Blood
Spleen Qi is essential for the production of Food Qi
Original Qi is also essential as a catalyst
Lung Qi is essential for the production of Blood (pushes the Food Qi to the Heart)
Where Qi is deficient, eventually Blood will become Deficient. Where Blood is deficient, one often needs to tonify Qi.

Qi Moves Blood
Blood would be inert without Qi. Ying (Nutritive) Qi flows with Blood in the Vessels.
Lung Qi infuses Qi into the Blood Vessels to push the Blood.
"When Qi moves, Blood follows". "When Qi stagnates, Blood congeals."
When Qi is deficient or stagnant, it fails to push Blood, which also stagnates.

Qi Holds the Blood
Spleen Qi is responsible for holding the Blood in the Vessels, preventing extravasation.
If Spleen Qi is deficient, haemorrhages may occur.

Blood Nourishes the Qi ("Blood is the mother of Qi")

Qi needs Blood for nourishment.
Blood provides a material basis (more Yin) which prevents Qi from "floating" away and producing signs of Empty Heat.

The Relationship Between Blood and Jing

Blood also nourishes and replenishes the Jing (Essence).

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