According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the human body is made up of building blocks. They are Qi (pronounced: Chee), Blood/Fluids, and Essence.
Qi: Sometimes it is described as the vital force or spirit of the body, this however is not a complete definition. I believe the best way to describe qi is that it is energy. Ask any physicist and they will tell you that all matter is made up of energy. This energy in chinese medicine is referred to as qi. It is the qi that facilitates all movements and changes in the universe and in our bodies. It provides function to organs and tissues. When qi is deficient, over abundant or blocked we see problems arise such as pain or disturbed digestion. It is the acupuncturist's job to manipulate and correct the flow of qi to alleviate symptoms and disease.
Blood/Fluids: If qi is energy and less substantial or immaterial then blood and fluids are the material or substantial makeup that nourish and moisten tissues and organs. Much like the qi, when blood and fluids are deficient, over-abundant or blocked we see disease in the body. Again, it is the acupuncturist's job to manipulate or nourish the blood and fluids to correct disease.
Essence: Essence can be described as a precursor to all of the elements that make up our whole being. I once heard essence described as our "stored potential" which really resonated with me. Some of our essence is gained from our parents (genetics) and some of our essence is gained from our nourishment (lifestyle choices and diet). Acupuncturists like to refer to these two types of essence as 'prenatal essence' and 'postnatal essence' respectively. It is the interaction of the two that give us our potential for health and disease and the interaction of qi, blood/fluids and essence that make up our whole selves. It is the patient's job to store and reserve their essence through positive lifestyle choices and acts of health. It is very difficult as an acupuncturist to do this for you through treatment which is why I say the most important aspect of the medicine is education.
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Barbara Wasson, DAc, is a Licensed and Board Certified Acupuncturist in Hudson, WI