TCM theory rests on the notion that we should all
live in harmony and balance with Nature, with each other and with
the Universe. Over the millennia, TCM practitioners have developed
a number of theoretical frameworks that help explain the human
condition, the Universe, and the interconnectedness of all things.
Modern TCM practitioners have a deep reservoir of theoretical
and practical knowledge from which to draw.
The main theories of Chinese Medicine are
1.) The Theory of Qi
2.) The Theory of Yin/Yang
3.) Five Elements Theory
According to ancient Taoist thought, Qi is
the motive force in all living things and in the Universe. Qi
takes on infinite forms in the physical world. All Qi is
derived from Universal or Heavenly Qi. A convenient, if
highly inaccurate translation of Qi is 'energy. In Traditional
Chinese Medicine, there are numerous kinds of Qi, that
are related to health and well-being. There is Yuan Qi, which
is roughly translated as Original Qi or Congenital Qi. This
is the Qi we are born with. It is the Qi we inherit
from our parents. It is the Qi that animates us and gives
us life. This also called Heavenly Qi, because when we
come into this world we bring a bit of heaven with us. Yuan
Qi can be strong or weak. Babies born with congenital deficiencies
are said to have weak Yuan Qi. According to TCM theory,
the Qi that one is born with is all the Qi that
one gets for life. Except for certain difficult Qi building
exercises in Qi Gong practice, Yuan Qi cannot be created.
It must be 'topped up' by Acquired Qi, produced in the
Spleen and the Lungs.
Ying Qi is also known as Acquired or Post Heavenly
Qi. Ying Qi is produced by the Spleen from food
and water and mixes with Yuan Qi which is stored in the
Kidneys. Ying Qi is seen as replenishing one's Yuan
Qi. Over the course of one's life, Yuan Qi is slowly
depleted by day to day activities. A bad diet, illness, or Spleen
disharmony will fail to produce sufficient Qi to restore
reserves and the body suffers. Overindulgence in Sex, illness
or other Kidney disharmony will deplete Yuan Qi faster
than the Spleen can produce Ying Qi to top it up.
Another form of acquired Qi, is called Zhong
Qi, or pectoral Qi. This type of Qi is produced
in the Lungs from air and water and like Ying Qi helps
to 'top up' Yuan Qi. In Chinese Medicine there is a unique
relationship between the Lungs and the Kidneys.
Finally, there is Wei Qi, also known as defensive
Qi. Wei Qi exists in the exterior layers of the body and
the skin. Its main function is to warm the body and defend it
against outside invasion of Heat, Cold, Wind, Dryness, or Dampness.
There are numerous other kinds of Qi in the
body, but these are the main ones.
According to TCM theory Qi circulates in
the body along its own energetic pathways, in the same way that
blood circulates in the arteries and veins. Qi is also
present in the blood and is said to be the energy that animates
it and moves it along.
In TCM diagnosis one may observe specific signs
and symptoms of Qi excess or deficiency. For example, one
of the most common ailments, especially in Western culture is
Liver Qi Stagnation. Liver Qi Stagnation has specific signs
and symptoms such as pain in the diaphragm area, a wiry pulse,
possibly headaches, redness or slight purplish colour along the
sides of the tongue and irritability. A western diagnosis would
show no organ damage, and conclude that nothing is wrong. At best
western medicine would attempt to suppress the symptoms.
The theory of Qi allows practitioners to
treat disharmonies, while they are still energetic in nature,
before any physical damage occurs. Liver Qi Stagnation is
a relatively minor and easily treatable condition. Prolonged stagnation
in the body though if untreated will eventually become much more
Finally, an aspect of Qi that even Traditional
Chinese Medicine as it is practiced today, tends to overlook,
is that it animates the Spirit as much as the body. For many,
the practice of healing is a Spiritual practice, and movement
of Qi ultimately is designed to heal the spirit. Bringing
balance and harmony means to harmonize the body, emotions, mind
and spirit. There are many Acupuncture points whose functions
include calming the spirit, releasing emotional buildups, and
promoting mental clarity. Very often these are the very same points
that affect the body physically.
It was thought by ancient practitioners that the
proper and determined cultivation of Qi in the body would eventually
lead to 'spiritualization' of the body. That is the ability of
the practitioner to transcend the limits of the physical body
and achieve immortality.
In Chinese medicine, the manipulation of Qi to
promote wellness at the energetic or metaphysical levels is as
important as anything that is done to treat disease at the physical