Qi energy: What is Qi and how does it affect us?

In Taoist sexology: Is sex good or bad for health? I briefly introduced the concept of Qi and mentioned that it is one of the “three treasures” of the human body, according to Taoist philosophy. In today’s post, I will further delve into this life-force energy and explain how it functions in the human body. Please note that the below content is for informational purposes only and in no way is intended to be a substitute for medical advice.

What is Qi?

Qi is a vital energy that activates the human body and animates all lives. It is what makes our hearts pulsate, keeps our blood warm, and brings air into our lungs. It is the life force behind our ability to think, speak, move, and exercise.

Thanks to this vital energy, our internal organs continue to function even when we are asleep or fall unconscious. Thanks to this vital energy, we can enjoy physical activities and leisure events that enrich our lives. It is the abundance of Qi that makes us strong, joyous, and lively, while the lack of it leads to lethargy, chronic fatigue, depression, or weakness. 

Given that Qi energy continues to circulate in our bodies, the smooth flow of Qi is essential for health. When its flow is blocked, we are subject to discomfort, and if this continues, we could fall ill. 

However, as Qi is invisible, its actual existence still raises quizzical eyebrows from modern medicine practitioners, and there are many people, especially in the West, who look to its existence with dubious eyes.

According to traditional Eastern medicine, this life force is an essential element for our well-being. Qi is akin to the fuel of an automobile that enables the automobile to function. Qi is akin to the electric power of a stereo system that enables the system to produce sound. It animates us and keeps our bodies warm and healthy.

Qi deficiency

A person who suffers from Qi deficiency could experience lethargy, a debilitating immunity system, chronic fatigue, depression, cold extremities, etc. The deficiency of Qi could occur when a person undergoes overexertion, self-destructive life patterns or a mental or emotional shock. It is also possible that a person is inherently deficient of Qi, given that original Qi is inherited from parents. Qi is Yang in nature. Therefore, the over-consumption of Yin foods could create excessive Yin in the body and thereby could lead to Qi deficiency.

Meridians: Qi’s pathways in the human body

Qi energy continuously circulates in our bodies through invisible channels commonly referred to as meridians. In the human body, there are 12 major meridians through which this life-force energy travels. Through the meridian system, the energy can flow into every single cell of the body, connecting different parts and allowing “communication” to occur among them.

Each of the 12 meridians is connected to a particular internal organ and thus affects the organ. For example, the heart meridian is related to the heart. When the heart meridian has a problem, it weakens the heart and could produce symptoms of an unhealthy heart. Similarly, the conditions of the lung meridian greatly affect the lungs, and therefore, a problem in the lung meridian could trigger a problem in the lungs, according to traditional Eastern medicine.

Followings are the 12 meridians that are extended to a particular organ from which the name derives:

Liver meridian

Lung meridian

Large Intestine meridian

Stomach meridian

Spleen meridian

Heart meridian

Small Intestine meridian

Bladder meridian

Kidney meridian

Pericardium meridian

Triple Burner meridian

Gall Bladder meridian


Qi peaks in each meridian at a specific time of the day

Qi flows through the meridians, and through the meridians, and it takes 24 hours for it to finish traveling through these 12 meridians. Qi peaks in each of these 12 meridians for two hours at a certain time of the day, as follows:

Qi peaks:

in the Liver meridian between 1 and 3 a.m.

in the Lung meridian between 3 and 5 a.m.  

in the Large Intestine meridian between 5 and 7 a.m.

in the Stomach meridian between 7 and 9 a.m.

in the Spleen meridian between 9 and 11 a.m.

in the Heart meridian between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

in the Small Intestine meridian between 1 and 3 p.m.

in the Bladder meridian between 3 and 5 p.m.

in the Kidney meridian between 5 and 7 p.m.

in the Pericardium meridian between 7 and 9 p.m.

in the Triple Burner meridian between 9 and 11 p.m.

in the Gall bladder between 11 p.m and 1 a.m.

In addition, there are also Du and Ren meridians that are located along the midline of the front and back.

Acupuncture, Shiatsu, and Tui Na

Acupuncture, Shiatsu, and Tui Na treatments work on these meridians with needles or body pressure. There are about 365 acupuncture points, and an acupuncturist determines the locations to place needles based on the patient’s conditions and symptoms. Shiatsu and Tui Na massage apply deep pressure on these meridians to help the energy to flow smoothly by removing blockages in these meridians.

Qi as Yang and blood as Yin

In our bodies, there is a constant circulation of blood and Qi. According to traditional Eastern medicine, blood is a visible manifestation of Yin, and Qi is an invisible manifestation of Yang.

Qi is the force that moves the blood and produces heat and moisture. Blood distributes essential ingredients to the cells of our bodies and nourishes the tissues. Good circulation of blood keeps us calm and enables us to relax and sleep peacefully. Without this vital energy, the blood cannot circulate and eventually will become harden. Without blood, Qi cannot circulate either and will eventually stagnate in the body.

In order to better understand the relationship between Qi and blood, think of the flame and the wax of a candle. The flame, which is Yang, is comparable to Qi, which is also Yang. The wax, which is Yin, is comparable to blood, which is also Yin. In case of a candle, the wax continues to provide itself for the flame to emit a light. When the wax is exhausted, the flame has to fizzle as well. A candle can emit a light because of the continuous interaction between the wax and the flame. As the candle cannot give off a light without the flame or wax, we cannot maintain our lives without blood or Qi.

Qi in the Universe

Qi is a universal life-force energy. While it is usually associated with energy in the human body, this life-force energy naturally exists in nature and in the Universe. Feng Shui, for example, is a study of Qi energy in the physical environment surrounding us.

The activation of Qi leads to the growth of plants, the flowing of rivers, and even the formation of a galaxy!

Therefore, the energy dynamic behind the circulation of blood is also behind the movement of stars and planets. The energy dynamic behind the creation of a single cell in your body is also behind the creation of a planet. The energy dynamic that leads to the death of your body cells also leads to the dissolution of a star and a galaxy.

Tao Universe