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Home > Education > Theory > Qi & Yang Deficiency

What is Qi and Yang Deficiency?

By Victoria Dragon

There are 6 basic functions of Qi. It transforms, transports, holds, raises, protects, and warms. Let's look a each of these in a little more detail. I'll put astericks in front of the ones which are going to be central to understanding the diffence between a diagnosis of Qi Deficiency and Yang Deficiency.

  • Transforming: This refers to things like "Spleen_Qi trnsforms food into Food-Qi, Kidney-Qi transforms fluids, BL_Qi transforms urine, Heart_Qi transforms Food-Qi into Blood." (Maciocia, Foundations, p. 47) To clear things up a little for those brand new to TCM, the Stomach "rots" and "ripens" the food one eats, the Spleen extracts the Food Qi from this rotted and ripened food and ....
  • Transportation: The Spleen transports the Food Qi that has been extracted from the "rotted and ripened" food to the Lungs where it mixes with Air Qi which the Lungs have extracted from the air breathed in. "Spleen-Qi transports Food-Qi, Lung-Qi transports fluids to the skin, Kidney-Qi transports Qi upwards, Liver-Qi transports Qi in all directions, Lung-Qi transports Qi downward." (Maciocia, p. 17)
  • Holding: "Spleen-Qi holds the Blood in the blood vessels and fluids, Kidney-Qi and Bladder-Qi hold urine, Lung-Qi holds sweat." (p. 47) There is a TCM syndrome called Spleen Not Controlling Blood. This is a special form of Spleen Qi Deficiency in which the emphasis is on the Qi function of holding. In addition to the usual symptoms of Spleen Qi Deficiency, there will be abnormal bleeding. There may be blood spots in the skin, blood in the stools or urine, abnormal bleeding from the uterus, etc. Please not that Spleen Not Controlling Blood is not the only possible Root of abnormal bleeding. Hot Blood (another TCM syndrome) can be a Root of abnormal bleeding as can be Blood Stasis. Hot Blood and Blood Stasis are Excess problems (problems caused by there being too much of something); Spleen Not Controlling Blood is a Deficiency state (problems caused by there not being enough of something, in this case Spleen Qi). Abnormal bleeding can result from either Deficiency or Excess causes.

One of the possible symptoms of Kidney Qi Deficiency or Bladder Qi Deficiency is urinary incontinence. The person can't make it to the bathroom in time and/or dribbles urine throughout the day. One of the possible manifestations of Spleen Qi Deficiency is diarrhea. In both cases the body isn't holding onto something when it should be. Note the part about "Lung-Qi holds sweat". One of the main diagnostic criteria for Qi Deficiency in general and Lung Qi Deficiency in particular is the person sweats a lot - independently of temperature or activity. Again, something is not being held onto when it should be held onto.

  • Raising: "Spleen-Qi raises the organs, Kidney-Qi rises upward." (p. 47) There is a TCM syndrome called Spleen Qi Sinking. This is another special case of Spleen Qi Deficiency. In this one the Qi function of raising is messed up. The symptoms are those of Spleen Qi Deficiency plus prolapse of Organs. Hemorrhoids and varicose veins may be due in part to Spleen Qi Sinking. (Maciocia, Foundations, p. 244) Spleen Qi Sinking is classified as a Deficiency syndrome; cases of rebellious Qi (Qi rising when it should be descending) are classified as Excess problems.
  • Protecting: "Lung-Qi protects the body from exterior pathogenic factors." (p. 47) We're talking a special form of Qi here called Protective (Wei) Qi. When a person catches infections easily and/or is weather sensitive, this can be a case of just Protective Qi Deficiency and Lung Qi Deficiency (in the case of infections). Or, it can be a case of longstanding Yang Deficiency.
  • Warming: "This is a function of Yang-Qi. Both Spleen-Yang and Kidney-Yang, especially the latter, have the function of warming the body."

Victoria Dragon

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