Acupuncture Fact Sheet
Yin and Yang
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Qi (pronounced "chee") and blood are the
two most important complementary pairs of yin and yang within the
human body. It is said that, in the world, yin and yang are water
and fire, but, in the human body, yin and yang are blood and qi.
Qi is yang in relation to blood that is yin. Qi is often translated
as energy and definitely energy is a manifestation of qi. Chinese
language scholars would say, however, that qi is larger than any
single type of energy described by modern Western science.
Traditional Chinese Medicine views the human as being
made up of basic substances that continually interact with each other
to create the whole being. Literally translated as "air",
Qi is the vital energy of any living organism and source of all movement
and change in the universe. Energy we create from the digestion of
food, air and liquids and how we interact with our environment via
exercise, meditation, etc. Deficiencies or blocked Qi can result
in an inability to transform and transport our food and drink, inability
to keep warm or tolerate extreme temperatures, and a lack of resistance
to diseases and chronic fatigue.
In acupuncture theory, qi is defined as having five
- Defense: It is qi that is responsible
for protecting the exterior of the body from invasion by external
pathogens. This qi, called defensive qi, flows through the exterior
portion of the body and plays an important role in the prevention
of many types of diseases.
- Transformation: Qi transforms substances
so that the body can utilize them. An example of this function
is the transformation of the food we eat into nutrients to nourish
the body, thus producing more qi and blood.
- Warmth: Qi, being relatively yang,
is inherently warm. One of the main functions of the qi is to warm
the entire body, both inside and out. If this warming function
of the qi is weak, cold may cause the flow of qi and blood to be
congealed similarly to the way cold effects water to produce ice.
- Restraint: It is qi which holds
all the organs and substances in their proper place. Thus all the
organs, blood, and fluids need qi to keep them from falling or
leaking out of their specific pathways. If this function of qi
is weak, then problems like uterine prolapse, easy bruising or
urinary incontinence may occur.
- Transportation: Qi provides the
motivating force for all transportation in the body. Every aspect
of the body that moves is moved by the qi. Hence the qi moves the
blood and body fluids throughout the body. It is also qi that moves
food through the stomach and the blood through its vessels.