Cells, tissues and organs of the body generate energy fields. The resultant of these fields regulates the body’s internal energy current and also produces an external energy field (Wei Qi). The Outer Forces (Powers) of Heaven and Earth affect the body’s internal organs through their interaction with the Wei Qi.
The Outer Forces are manifested through the Three Treasures. The Three Treasures of the Heavenly Powers are the energy fields of the sun, moon and stars. The Earthly Treasures are the energy of the earth (rock and soil), wind and water. Earth’s Outer Forces are discussed below and Heaven’s Outer Forces in following aricles.
A plague outbreak in 1641, during the Ming dynasty, wiped out a large portion of the population in China. The physician, Wu Youxing (c. 1580-1660), after extensive research into epidemic disease, wrote the book Wenyilun (On Pestilence) in 1642. The book described the specific symptoms of different kinds of epidemic disease and proposed the theory of Liqi (excessive influences). His theory of Liqi stated that pestilence was not caused by the Six Evils, but was the result of infection by excessive influences. Liqi had the following characteristics:
(a) It could be cured by herbs.
(b) It penetrated the body through the mouth and nose.
(c) The occurrence of disease depended on the quantity and virulence of the excessive influence, and body resistance.
(d) Each pestilence was associated with its own particular Liqi.
Dr. Wu also claimed that the Liqi affecting humans was different from that occurring in animals. He suggested that Liqi was the cause of smallpox and other inflammatory skin diseases.
Smallpox was a great scourge of the country during the Ming dynasty and there is documented use of anti-smallpox vaccination dating from the years 1567-72.
2. Wind Qi
These are Yin and Yang energies and light created by the interaction of the sun’s heat and radiation from the earth manifesting as various weather conditions such as: clouds, tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning storms. etc.
There are six types of External Pathogenic Qi or Six Evils (Liu Yin): Wind (Feng), Cold (Han), Summer Heat (Shu), Dampness (Shi), Dryness (Zao) and Fire (Huo). They are often called the Six Climatic Pathogens since they are named after weather phenomena, because they possess similar characteristics. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, these Six Evils can be the external causes of disease (1). However, climatic changes may not result in disease provided that the Zheng Qi (Righteous Qi, pathogenic fighting energy) is sufficiently strong. The Six Evils and some of their properties are listed in Table 1. Fire can arise from any of the other Evils and strictly speaking, is not classified as an external pathogen since its signs and symptoms don’t appear until it has entered the body.
The invasion of the Six Evils is related to the climatic conditions in different seasons and the environment
Diseases related to Wind occur more frequently in spring because Wind is prevalent in this season. Summer Heat attacks the body only in the summer because it exists only in this season. Living for a long time in a damp place, one is likely to suffer from arthritis and working in a hot environment, like a foundry, one is liable to be invaded by Fire.
Each of these pathogens can cause disease alone or in combination with other pathogens. For example, Wind may attack the body alone, causing an Exterior Syndrome (a disease (1) in Chinese medicine is defined by a collection of signs and symptoms) due to Wind, or in combination with Heat, causing an Exterior Syndrome due to Wind-Heat.
The Six External Evils invade the body mainly through the skin, or the nose and mouth, the more susceptible Organs and tissues exposed to the environment, because they originate externally. This does not mean that the Organ listed in Table 1 is always affected by the corresponding Evil, but only that it is more likely to be affected than others.
The Six External Pathogens can act not only on one another in the occurrence of diseases, but can pathogenesis and Syndrome can change- for example, Cold may transform into Heat.
There seems to be no beneficial effects produced by extreme weather conditions and one is cautioned from practicing Qigong at these times. However, some Qigong teacher advocate absorbing Qi from warm objects such as stoves, fireplaces, etc. for individuals who are always cold and cannot feel Qi from other sources.
There are forms of Qigong that are practiced to enable practitioners to live comfortably in harsh weather. In ancient China, vagabonds practiced a form of Qigong so that they could live comfortably outdoors. Tibetan monks use a form of Qigong that enables them to live in frigid weather without warm clothing.
Some Qigong masters practice infusing their energetic field with the environmental energetic field for environmental manipulations (2). One exercise is to pull a cloud from the sky and root the cloud in the Earth’s energetic field. The cloud can then be released or allowed to disperse into the surrounding environmental energy. Another exercise is to divide a cloud in half. The cloud can then be united or further divided.
|Evil||Type||Season||Organ||Effect||Symptoms and Signs|
|Sum-merHeat||Yang||Summer||Heart||Damages Yin leading to Yin XuRisesCauses redness (the redder the more heat)Easily produces wind(when effect Liver)Speeds things up.Easily affects the skin
May invade Pericardium
|Dry lips, thirst, scanty-dark urine & thirstDiseases most common on face, eyes, and nose.Thirst, red tongue on sides & tipAgitation, restlessnessBlood moves so fast it can leave vessels (bleeding).Red, painful, achy rashes.Clouds mind, delirium, slurred speech; unconsciousness|
|Dry-ness||Yang||Autumn||Lung||Easily damages body fluids.Easily damages lungs||Dry skin, hair, lips, eyes, stool;Low-grade sore throat.Scant urine; thirstDry cough and dry phlegm (thick, sticky, hard to expel|
|Fire||Yang||AnySeason||Heart||Like Summer Heat, but more severe. Consumes Qi. Moves upward.||Affects Mind more than Summer Heat (anxiety, agitation, insomnia, mental illness, uncontrollable laughter, shouting, hitting people &talking incessantly)|
|Wind||Yang||Spring||Liver||Disperses Qi upward and outward & so Yang energy wants to rise and expand.Illnesses manifest in upper and outer parts of the body in early stage: head, sense organs and skin. Rapid onset and rapid changes in signs & symptomsSymptoms and signs move from place to lace in body.Creates abnormal or sudden movement||Attack Lungs. Sweating causes opening of pores (Qi and fluids lost). Itchy throat, sneezing, coughing, runny nose; possibly fever. Facial paralysis. Superficial Tai Yang attacked stiffness along channel & neck pain. Acute illnesses with rapid progression such as fever, infectious diseases. Rashes (itchy, come and go quickly, spread quickly). Spasms, convulsions, twitches, paralysis if Liver involved.Aversion to wind or cold.|
|Cold||Yin||Winter||Kidney||Damages the Yang & so impairs ability to maintain body temperature||Weakens and slows life activities. Feeling of cold; symptoms better with warmth Causes Qi and Blood to contract and congeal which creates stagnation, pain, stiffness. Easily affects the low back and knees, joints. Easily affects the Stomach, Intestines, and Uterus. Thin, watery, pale, cold discharges (urine, stools, etc.)|
|Damp||Yin||Late Summer||Spleen||Heavy, tenacious, difficult to treat, and lasts a long time.It tends to move downwards in the body.Can invade legs and then go up to settle in pelvic cavity organs.Damages Yang of body.Creates stagnation|| greasy hair and face ; greasy skin: acne, pus, oozing wound; mucous or discharge anywhere in body; bad body odor, bad breath, smelly perspiration; bad smelling diarrhea with mucous; thick or bad smelling vaginal discharge; copious nasal discharge;
edema or swelling;
Fluid coming out of anywhere;
Candida, fungus, yeast infections
Worse in cold , damp weather
Can invade middle channels &
settle in joints resulting in
arthritis and swelling.
Injure Spleen Yang causing more dampness
Sticky tongue coat
Frequent, burning urination.
3. Water Qi
These are Yin and Yang interactions of energy and light from the oceans, lakes, rivers and streams manifesting as hot and cold energies. These bodies of water retain and release the sun’s light energy and heat slowly. The body easily and quickly absorbs the light, energy and resonant vibrations stored in water. Therefore, Water Qi can play an important role in energy cultivation. Some use of the uses of gathering energy form various bodies of water are given in Table 2.
Table 2. Some Uses of Absorbing Water Qi
|Oceans||Dispersing negative emotions.Regulating internal organs.Quieting the nervous system.|
|Lakes||Sedate active emotions.Balance any Excess or Deficiency.Calm Shen.|
|Streams||Restore depleted Qi.Sedate active emotions.Balance any Excess or Deficiency.Calm Shen.|
The ability of water to store Qi is used by herbalist to extract and store the Qi from herbs by cooking them in water. This herbal soup is divided into doses to treat patients. Some Qigong masters use herbal tonics to enhance their own Qi and also to treat their students. Other masters project their own Qi into water, which their students can drink later.
When gathering Qi do not select oceans, lakes or streams that are turbulent, have become dull in color, polluted or stagnant, since the body’s internal energy will match that of the external environment.
4. Earth Qi
These are Yin and Yang energies and light originating from the earth’s surface. This energy includes electromagnetic fields, underground radiations, light and heat emitted from the earth, and energy stored in soil, rocks, soil, plants and animals. There is also an Earthly energetic grid like acupuncture meridians. There are pockets of Earth energy (like acupoints) and frequency pathways (like meridians). An example of Earth’s energetic grid is the Ley lines, which according to Western folklore, are energetic pathways connecting energetic power vortices on the planet. Some sources of Earth Qi and their use appear in Table 3.
Table 3. Some Earth Qi Sources
|Source||Uses or Comments|
|Trees||Remove stagnation from channels.Tonify internal organs.Stabilize & replenish depleted energy.Nourish Blood.Strengthen nervous system.|
|Bushes||Similar to trees, but not as powerful an energy source as trees.|
|Flowers||Unique in stimulating the nervous system. Different sizes, colors and shapes can affect the emotions, causal a spiritual opening. Each color absorbed into the body stimulates a corresponding organ.|
|Mountains||Extremely powerful energy conduits. The higher the peak, the more the air is charged with electromagnetic potential and more negative ion concentration.|
|Valleys||Facilitate easy absorption of energy into body.|
|Deserts||Seas of dry heat energy for combating diseases associated with Wind, Cold or Damp invasion.|
Different trees and bushes have different Yin or Yang potential and enter different meridians (2), for example, Apple tree energy is slightly Yin and enters the Stomach and Spleen, while Bamboo is yin, entering, Heart, Lung., Gallbladder and /Stomach. However, in different regions each tree or plant can have minor or major variations in its energy.
The best times for absorbing energy from trees, flowers and bushes is between the hours of sunrise (Mao: 5-7 a.m.) and noon (Wu: 11 a.m.-1 p,m,).
Don’t meditate in front of a tree, bush, or flower that has parasites, or has been poisoned, polluted, sick, dying, or has lost its color, since such vegetation can induce impure energetic resonation in your body. Similarly, don’t meditate in front of a mountain, valley, or desert area that has eroded, is dying, has lost its color, or is polluted. Doing Qigong in areas of seismic or volcanic activity is also prohibited, since unstable resonations can be induced in your body.
There are also certain locations on the earth that are known as “power spots”, which can be used to produce extremely powerful effects on the body’s potential energetic field.
Environmental energy is also considered to vary according to direction and is absorbed into the body as a tonification exercise for a weakened or Deficient condition. There are six directions. South corresponds to the front of the body, north to the back, west to the right, and east to the left. Heaven and Earth correspond to the top and bottom of the Taiji Pole, the center core of light joining the three Dan Tians. The Qi from each direction is imagined as an energetic mist of a different color and entering a different Yin organ or the top or bottom of the Taiji Pole. N, S, E, and W correspond to ruby red, white, indigo, and emerald green and enter the Heart, Lungs, Kidneys, and Liver, respectively. Heaven corresponds to a silvery, white mist, which enter the top of the Taiji Pole through the Baihui (GV-20) and saturates it, Earth corresponds to a yellow mist entering through the Yongquan (K-1) and going to the Spleen.
One of the most important sources of Earth Qi is food. Chinese doctors realized their treatments would not be effective without their patients eating properly. Hence, for centuries, they studied the energetic properties of food, their qualitative action on the body, and their influence on the internal organs and channels.
5. Food Energetics (2, 3, 4)
Chinese diet therapy is based on classifying foods as Yin and Yang; having a Hot, Warm, Cool, Cold or Neutral effect on the body, and by their five flavors, which influence corresponding organs. Balancing the diet according to one’s constitution and organs’ strength, the seasons, the principles of Yin and Yang, not overeating can prevent many illnesses and wasteful expenditures of energy.
Ingesting food that is too Yang (Hot as a bodily reaction) or out of harmony with the season, creates a Yang factor, which causes internal energy to be released damaging both Blood and Qi. Eating food that is too Yin (Cold) or out of harmony with the season can create an external pathogenic factor consuming Kidney Yang, preventing the body’s Yang Heat from warming the body. The Qi flow becomes sluggish and can block the channels or collaterals. These blockages causes damage to the Stomach and Intestines and affect the Heart and Lungs. Food that is too greasy may damage the Stomach Qi, resulting in boils, pyogenic infections or ulcerous skin conditions. Eating similar foods all of the time may cause certain organs to be overactive or accumulation of toxins from these foods, causing mild allergic reactions from these foods. Gorging may produce too much Gu Qi, resulting an upward reaction of Stomach Qi. This affects the Spleen and Stomach, which in turn affects the Lungs (the Child of the Spleen), obstructing the breath and blocking the psychic centers (Shen of the Heart).
Foods are classified as Yin or Yang by several characteristics. Yang foods take more time to grow, are hotter, are drier, less sweet, grow below the ground, and in hot climates. Yin foods take less time to grow, are colder, more watery, sweeter, grow above the ground and in cold climates. The more Yin the food the more expanded it becomes and the more Yang the food the more contracted.
Foods are also classified by five flavors (sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty). The main method used in this classification are centuries of clinical observations on the effect of the food on its corresponding organ. For example, a food may be classified as pungent even though it may appear bitter to some people. The relation of the five flavors or tastes with the body’s internal organs are connected with the Theory of Five Elements, as shown in Table 4.
Table 4. Five Flavors and Corresponding Elements, Seasons, and Body’s Organs.
|Yang Organ||Small Intestine||Colon||Gall Bladder||Stomach||Bladder|
The interpretation of the Table 4 is illustrated by the following example. Bitter foods affect the Blood and tongue. They can stimulate the energy of the Heart and Small Intestine to control Heart Fire and stimulate digestion. However, an excess of bitter foods can cause hyperactivity of Heart Fire, resulting in the consumption of Kidney Yin fluids.
The Five Element Theory uses two other important energy relationships called the Generating (Sheng) Cycle or Mother-Son Law and the Controlling (Ko) Cycle or the Mother-Grandson Law, which appear in Fig. 1. The Sheng Cycle is represented by the green outer arrows. For example, Bitter is the mother of Sweet and Sweet is the son of Bitter. The Ko Cyle is represented by the red inner arrows. For example, Bitter is the grandmother of Pungent and Pungent is the grandson of Bitter. These same rules apply when the corresponding Yin and Yang Organs from Table 4 replace the flavors in Fig. 1. For example, the Heart is the mother of the Spleen and the Spleen is the son of the Heart.
From Table 4, bitter foods affect the Heart or Small Intestine. However, the Heart (Small Intestine) is the mother of the Spleen (Stomach) and from the Generating Cycle, the mother can pass energy to the Spleen (Stomach), and so improve digestion.
Figure 1. The Sheng and Ko Cycles for Flavors
The Ko cycle can be used to control or counter the effects of eating excessive flavors of foods. Excessive pungent foods can damage the Lungs by causing excessive loss of Lung Qi. Since Bitter is the grand- mother of pungent. Bitter foods can control the effect of excessive pungent foods. Excessive Bitter foods can not only affect the mother organ but also have an affect on the grandson (Lung) by over-controlling him via the Control Cycle, causing dry cough, asthma, and withering of the skin..
Foods have a tendency to move in different directions in the body. Some move outward (from the internal region to the skin and body surface), some inward, some upward (below the waist to above the waist) and some downward. Two additional characteristics are associated with the movement of foods. Glossy foods facilitate movements. Obstructive foods slow down the movements.
Symptoms are treated by using foods whose movements oppose the movement associated with the symptom to rebalance the body. For example, upward symptoms such as, vomiting, hiccups, coughing, etc., should be treated with foods that move downwards.
Food therapy is important tool for any Qigong healer and also for scientific research.
1. Maciocia, G. Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, New York, 1989.
2. Johnson, J. A. Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy. Int. Inst of Medicak Qigong, Pacific Grove, 2000.
3. Lu, H. C. Chinese Herbs with Common Foods, Kodansha International, Tokyo, 1997.
4. Lu, H. C. Chinese System of Food Cures: Prevention & Remedies, by Henry C. Lu, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1986.