In the previous blog, I gave a brief description of what Yin and Yang represent. In short, it’s about warming and cooling energy. This blog is taking you to another level of understanding in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This post will explore the concepts of Qi (chee) and Blood and how and why they are fundamental components in TCM.

The concept of energy in TCM, is referred to as Qi (chee). The Qi energizes the body, moves and warms. Therefore Qi has Yang energy. (See Yin and Yang from previous blog). Blood and body fluids are sustenance for the body. They nourish and moisten the whole of the body and therefore are Yin in nature.

The strength of our Qi comes from our Prenatal or Congenital Qi (our parents) and Acquired Qi from our food and air. Qi is the source of movement in all directions. Qi protects the body like a shield against pathogens (i.e. viruses) and allows for bodily functions to work efficiently. Qi warms the body and ensures the appropriate flowing/movement of substances in the body, like blood and body fluids.

Qi can be deficient as in infirmity of old age, chronic illness or malnutrition. It can collapse as in prolapse of organs (bladder, uterus). Stuck Qi (stagnant Qi) results in feeling deep, achey pain, a sense of distention and/or emotional upset. Qi can also flow in the wrong direction (rebellious Qi) manifesting as cough, nausea, vomiting, hiccups, dizziness and diarrhea.

Blood as we know it is a thick liquid and therefore one of the most dense forms of Qi (Yin in nature). In TCM like in Western medicine, Blood functions to nourish the body. In TCM it is understood to flow and circulate in the meridians. Blood flow in the meridians includes the organs and tissues of the body as well as body hair, tendons, ligaments, bones and viscera. It moistens and nourishes the whole body, especially the eyes and tendons. Hair growth is related to quality and amount of blood.

In TCM the three most important organs related to Blood are the Liver, Heart and Spleen:
-“Liver stores and regulates the blood; when the body moves, the blood will flow through the channels. When the body rests, the blood returns to the Liver and is stored.”
-“The Heart governs the blood, which means the Heart pumps the blood.”
-“The Spleen contains the blood which means the Spleen manages the blood by preventing the
blood from spilling out into the vessels, i.e.: hemorrhaging, bruising.”

Qi (energy, life force) moves the blood and keeps it circulating. Without strong Qi to move the blood, the blood will gather and get stuck. The areas where blood stagnates will result in pain and disease as a result of inadequate blood moving and nourishing the body. The interaction between Qi and Blood is significant. If our Qi is weak, it won’t be able to sufficiently move the blood. If our blood is deficient it won’t nourish and moisten the body and will also result in disease and pain.

Disorders of the Blood include blood deficiency, blood stagnation and heat in the blood. The reasons for this could be from blood loss, reduced blood production or the blood nourishing qualities being reduced. General signs of blood deficiency include dizziness, palpitations, lusterless complexion, pale lips, insomnia, dry skin and hair. It may not show up as anemia in Western medicine but would still be considered blood deficiency in TCM. Other problems related to blood deficiency include amenorrhea or shortened menstrual cycle, and dry, itchy skin.

Some of the causes of blood stagnation come from Qi deficiency not moving the blood, heat in the blood and impact trauma causing hemorrhage or bruising. The generals signs of blood stagnation include purplish lips and tongue and/or papules on the tongue. Local areas of blood stagnation would manifest in painful swelling or knife-like stabbing pain. Bleeding can occur when the blood vessels can no longer hold the pressure caused by the stagnation and the blood will be a dark purple-black. Western diseases that relate to blood stagnation would include a heart attack or stroke.

Heat in the blood is a result of heat toxins entering the blood. It is characterized by rapid blood movement, hemorrhage and/or deep red rashes, eruptions on the skin or hives, and dry mouth. Heart-Blood heat will cause anxiety, mental illness and mouth ulcers. Blood heat in the uterus will cause excessive bleeding during the menstrual cycle.

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