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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Qi Vitality from Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford

     A major functional concept from traditonal Chinese medicine is qi. A vital essence found in all things, qi has aspects of both matter and energy. We will refer primarily to its expression as energy, keeping in mind that energy and matter are convertible into one another. The theories of modern physics showing matter and energy to be alternate descriptions of one reality are very much in accord with the concept of qi and other facets of Eastern philosophy.
     The qi concept gives us a measure for the vitality of a person, object, or state. If the qi of a certain food is of good quality, then the food will taste better and impart more qi to the individual who consumes it. In a person, good qi is manifested as an ability to accomplish things, lack of obstruction in the body, better functioning of the internal organs, and so on. To further understand qi, which itself is a yang quality, it is helpful to understand its yin counterpart----blood. Blood is yin and the "mother of qi", since the nutrients in blood support and nurture qi. At the same time qi leads and directs the blood. Furthermore, digestive and circulative qi must be sufficient in order for the blood to be formed and to circulate.
     Whatever manifests in a person does so with that type of qi. Someone who is graceful, for instance, has harmonious qi; weak people lack qi; those who are strong have abundant qi; people with pure, clear minds have "refined" as opposed to "confused" qi. Thus qi is not only the energy behind these states of being but the intrinsic energy/substance of these states. The qi concept, then, provides a way to describe every aspect of life.
     From a therapeutic standpoint, there are several functional aspects of qi. It is warming and is the source of all movement; it protects the body, flows through the acupuncture channels, and maintains the activity of the body systems and organs. Sources of qi in the body are three-fold: 1) from food; 2) from the air we breathe; and 3) from the essence of the kidneys, some part of which we are born with.
     How well we utilize qi from these sources depends on how we live and on our attitudes. Qi is also transferred between people in interactions of every kind. The qi of the cfook permeates the food. Exercise, herbal therapy, acupuncture, and awareness practices such as meditation are traditional ways of clearing obstructions and maximizing qi flow.
     Qi that stagnates causes accumulations resulting in obesity, tumors, cysts, cancers, and the multitude of viral and yeast-related diseases that plague those with sedentary lives and refined, rich diets.
     The qi of the body can be accurately measured and regulated by the diagnostic and therapeutic methods of Chinese medicine. In nutritional therapy, improving the "digestive qi" of the spleen-pancreas is a priority to be discussed in the Earth Element chapter. In other chapters we will discuss "protective qi" as an aspect of immunity, qi deficiencies of various organs, qi stagnation of the liver, and the practices that improve or damage qi in food and the body.