What is Qi?

Qi is an ancient traditional Chinese medicine understanding of energy in the body. Learn more about it and how it can help you understand your health concerns.

You may have heard of qi, if you’re interested in energy medicine. Or maybe you heard it in a movie or on TV. Either way, you’ve probably heard of qi before but don’t know too much about it.

What is Qi?

Qi is a concept that comes from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM defines qi as the life force energy that circulates through each of our bodies or any living being. It’s known as the energy flow, material energy or vital force. It can be spelled “qi” or “chi.”

The Two Sides of Qi

There are two primary aspects of qi. In the first aspect, there are physical or nourishing elements, like food and water. These elements are things you take into your body from the outside. These elements become a part of us.

Then there is the second aspect, known as the internal elements. This part of qi is already a part of you, like fluids or energy. Eventually, this part of qi is released to be recycled back into life.

Yin and Yang

It’s best to start with the concept of yin and yang to understand the two sides in totality. Yin can be seen as the feminine force with these qualities:

  • feminine
  • passive
  • cold
  • moist
  • heavy
  • dark
  • structure
  • descending
  • calm
  • death
  • slow
  • moon

Yang balances out the yin and has thse qualities:

  • masculine
  • fire
  • function
  • sun
  • fast
  • dry
  • hot
  • birth
  • energy
  • ascending
  • sky

It’s the interaction of these two poles that speaks to the balance of qi within an individual. When one side or the other is out balance, then you’ll start to notice physical, mental and emotional symptoms and signs.

Qi Deficiency and Excess

If you have too little life force energy, then you could see an array of symptoms or illnesses appear within an organ system as under-functioning. For instance, you may have poor circulation, a weak cough, decreased digestion, low appetite, memory loss or weakness.

Several things can cause decreased qi, from things like environmental pollution to emotional problems in relationships to hormonal imbalances. You can address qi deficiency in a variety of ways but most prominently through nutrition, Chinese herbs or energy medicine like acupuncture.

On the other end of the spectrum, you can experience too much qi, which would arise in a variety of ways. You may have high blood pressure, general or localized inflammation, poor circulation or low appetite. As you’ll notice, the latter two reflect what could be perceived as a deficiency.

To know the primary difference you have to ask: are you having an imbalance in yin or yang energy? Too much or too little yin? Too much or too little yang? Look at the defining characteristics of yin and yang. If there’s an imbalance in either, then you’ll begin to have symptoms that reflect the energy force that’s out of balance.

Final Thoughts

Understanding qi can give you a fresh look at your own life force energy. It may offer key insights into health issues. If you’re interested in pursuing these concepts further, especially in regard to your own health, then it’s ideal that you would find a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner near you to help you along your journey.

Related at Care2

Image via Getty Images


hELEN hEARFIELD4 months ago


Mely Lu
Mely Lu6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Debbi W
Debbi W6 months ago

Hopefully there will be more practitioners available in smaller communities soon.

Anna R
Anna R6 months ago

Thanks very much

Sherry Kohn
Sherry K6 months ago

Many thanks to you !

Danuta W
Danuta W6 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Anne M
Anne M6 months ago

Qi is gimmicky...

Peggy B
Peggy B6 months ago


Nena C
Nena C6 months ago

this is good wisdom, as we hit golden years health is so important, younger folks need start young to enjoy them, this could help allot! health should be first concern for all of us our family, loved ones, friends, share w/them asap!

Glennis W
Glennis Whitney6 months ago

Thank you for caring and sharing