Four substances, Qi, Blood, Jing and Shen make up a living being. Because we interact mostly with Qi through acupuncture, we discuss Qi with patients often and get many questions about what we mean by the word Qi. Just as you need to power a machine, one needs power for the body.The combustion of air and fuel create power in a car, with a body, both air and food are processed to make Qi.
Qi flows throughout the entire body. It has many different functions and can be accessed thru many techniques and networks. These networks include 12 primary channels, 8 extra vessels, 12 divergent channels, 15 collaterals, 12 cutaneous and 12 sinew channels.
So, how do acupuncturists interact with Qi?
They use needles to tap into the networks where Qi flows. In the past there were several different kinds of needles, but today we mostly just use a rounded filament. Different needle techniques allow Qi to be moved in particular ways. An acupuncturist can use needles to reinforce or disperse qi. They can encourage qi to flow past an obstruction like inflammation, scar tissue, or tension. Techniques can assist healing and alleviate pain. Needles may be heated with moxa as part of the treatment or electrical current can be applied from one needle to another to relieve pain and promote tissue healing.
Are needles the only way to affect Qi?
No. There are Eight Branches of east asian medicine and all impact the production, function, preservation and smooth flow of Qi. The Eight Branches are:
2. Diet (4 nutr: edible food, sense-impressions, volitions, and consciousness)
3. Tuina (massage) lohan patting
4. Astrology (recognition and harmonization of life cycles)
5. Feng Shui (recognition and harmonization of the features of the environment)
6. Movement/Exercise: Qigong/Tai Chi
Acupuncture and its adjunct modalities, Herbs, Diet and sometimes Qigong are routine parts of east asian medicine practitioner training so will likely be discussed in your acupuncture treatment. Astrology, Feng shui and meditation are more specialized branches that usually requiring further training.
Can I affect my own Qi?
Absolutely. As we discussed earlier breath and food create Qi, thus diet and lifestyle are critical for replenishing and restoring our Qi supply. Diet does not refer just to food and water but also to what we take in mentally and emotionally. Just as adequate daily hydration is essential, so is good mental hygiene. Focusing on positive aspects of one’s life and remembering to be appreciative, grateful and happy eases the workload of the body. As it says in the Dhammapada: “the mind precedes all happy states, mind made are they.” When you are happy, problems and pains dissipate more rapid. Qi flows more evenly when we get out of our own way.
Still curious? Call to set up a free 30 minute consult with one of our Acupuncturists!