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Qi Deficiency - Jarmey, C. & Bouratinos, I. 2008: 'A Practical Guide to Acu-points'
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Qi (often Chi) is a general term used throughout Chinese culture to describe a wide range of phenomena within philosophy, medicine, and even weather. In Chinese medicine, qi is the energy that a person emanates. Broadly speaking, qi is a physical type of energy which doesn’t necessarily have to be seen, but can always be felt1.

One school of thought is that traditional chinese medicine (TCM) and western medicine (WM) share core concepts that are interchangeable when it comes to diagnosis and treatment options for various ailments. For example, qi has been closely linked to the scientific process of blood circulation and with the role tissue fluid plays in supporting vital organs. In TCM, a person may be said to be qi deficient, thus bearing in mind the previous statement, it may be inferred that the person is suffering from poor blood circulation. A lot of scientific research has been carried out to determine the validity of this theory, however it is often difficult to compare the two directly as qi is predominantly based on ancient books, whereas blood pressure is measured through clinical observations1.

It is said that  “Qi as the commander of blood” and “blood being the mother of qi” are the cause and result of each other 2.  In Western terminology,  high blood pressure, ischemia, thrombosis and haemorrhages are commonly linked to the theories of blood stasis and blood stagnation seen in traditional Chinese medicine3.

In recent decades, a concept of constitutions has been formed within traditional Chinese medicine. Each of these constitutions is said to reflect biological, physical and psychosocial features, and can be used to analyse changes of the eyes, nose, mouth, facial expressions, body builds, pulse, urine, stools, skin colour, pathological changes, diet and compatibility of drugs. The nine constitutions are used as a reference base for clinical diagnosis and scientific research in traditional chinese medicine, and qi is associated with two of these constitutions. The nine constitutions are ping-he, qi-xu, yang-xu, yin-xu, tan-shi, shi-re, xue-yu, qi-yu, and te-bing4.

The rule of constitutions has many parallels with Western theories that have formed the basis of modern Western medicine. Greek physician Hippocrates famously established the theory of the four humours of harma, phlegma, cholexanthe and chole melania, which he stated were direct derivatives of the heart, brain, liver and stomach, and so could be used to diagnose the health of these organs. Following on from this, Roman physician Galen theoreticised that the a person’s temperament could be explained by analysing samples of their blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. These two theories have since formed the basis for many other theories which are widely used in Western medicine to this day5.

For some medical conditions, there are evident similarities in the effects of medication used in traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. In some cases there is even the possibility that Chinese medical practices may be considered as an alternative treatment6.

It is claimed that acupuncture has the ability to promote qi and blood circulation in the meridians and collaterals, and is therefore able to promote circulation. Improved circulation in the meridians and collaterals has been related to the overall improvement of blood circulation within the body. Research has shown there to be significant differences in blood flow between acupoints and non-acupoints.

Acupuncture analgesia is believed to involve neural and bio-electromagnetic mechanisms, which results in capillary vasomotor amplitude at acupoints. This has led to some researches speculating that acupuncture can improve the microenvironments of  Zangfu  organs through increased blood flow and regulation of qi7.


  1. Yao W, Yang H, Ding G. Mechanisms of Qi-blood circulation and Qi deficiency syndrome in view of blood and interstitial fluid circulation. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2013;33(4):538-544.
  2. Zhou Y, Wei K, He L, Sun X, Shao K, Fang B et al. Multi-central Clinical Research into Treating 80 Cases of Chronic Thrombocytopenia with Qi-supplementing and Yin-nourishing Therapy and Western Medicine. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2011;31(4):277-281.
  3. Ling H, Meixia F, Liguo C, Jianhua Z, Jing Y, Jing X et al. Transcriptome analysis of blood stasis syndrome in subjects with hypertension. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2016;36(2):173-180.
  4. Wang J, Li Y, Ni C, Zhang H, Li L, Wang Q. Cognition Research and Constitutional Classification in Chinese Medicine. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2011;39(04):651-660.
  5. Wang J, Li Y, Ni C, Zhang H, Li L, Wang Q. Cognition Research and Constitutional Classification in Chinese Medicine. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2011;39(04):651-660.
  6. Jing Y, Jian L, Li L, Ning Z, Xuyan N, Xiaojuan H et al. Mechanism of herbal pairs with the properties of Qi-tonifying, blood activation, blood-stasis breaking in treating coronary heart disease. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2017;37(2):269-278.
  7. Huang T, Yang L, Jia S, Mu X, Wu M, Ye H et al. Capillary blood flow in patients with dysmenorrhea treated with acupuncture. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2013;33(6):757-760.