Qi (气, pronounced chee) is the vital energy that makes you a living, breathing creature as opposed to a pile of lifeless atoms. It is one of the most important substances in our bodies and directly affects our emotional and physical health.
Qi is not just inside us. It’s everywhere. We take it in from the air we breathe, the food we eat and even the people we spend time with. A good supply of free flowing Qi keeps us healthy by providing nourishment, warmth and energy to all parts of the body. Our bodies need to be kept in a balanced and harmonious environment so that the vital organs, blood and body fluid can perform their many different functions at an optimum level. If our Qi tanks are low or blocked, harmony is lost and we start to get ill.
Achieving a healthy balance of Qi is essential to our well-being, so we want to help you be more Qi conscious. We’ve outlined 5 areas to show how making some simple changes can improve the quality and quantity of Qi we take in during our daily lives, as well as encouraging a strong body and a healthy mind.
Diet“Being healthy starts in the kitchen.”
In ancient China, diet doctors played a similar role to the dieticians and nutritional specialists we have today. They were responsible for the treatment of patients through a well balanced and regular diet. In Chinese medicine, a healthy diet is more about eating the right food and less about reducing the amount of food intake.
HOW IS FOOD LINKED TO OUR HEALTH?
Food provides nutrients, which ensure the maintenance of the body’s growth and promote longevity. A diet that is excessive in heavy, greasy, sweet delicacies, fat and sugar leads to poor health. For many of us our diets consists mainly of these types of foods, which can lead to many health issues, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction.
In Chinese medicine, it is recommended to stick to a regular, light and simple diet. Light and simple diets can prevent diseases, strengthen the body and prolong life. Foods should consist mainly of grains, fruit and vegetables with mild flavours that harmonize the five tastes; sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, and salty. These five flavours are believed to promote Qi, support good blood circulation, strengthen the bones, make the tendons flexible and keep the skin and muscles in good condition.
Each flavour is linked to a particular organ. If we eat too much of one particular flavour, it will have an adverse effect on the related organ and cause disease and ill health. A balanced diet should include food from all the five flavours. You can easily balance the five tastes by planning what you eat and by the different methods you chose to cook.
The temperature of food is considered an important factor in Chinese medicine. Food that is too hot or too cold can cause harm to the Spleen and Stomach. In Chinese medicine, healthy weight depends mainly on the Spleen and Stomach, because these organs are primarily responsible for the transportation and absorption of food and its transformation into energy. The failure of the Spleen and Stomach to process food properly and transport the energy to the various parts of the body is manifested as excess weight and obesity. In addition, foods themselves can be warming or cooling in nature. For example, Beef, pepper and cinnamon are all warming foods, while cucumber, aubergine and crab are cooling foods. So eating particular foods can warm us up or cool us down.
In general, your digestive system works best when it is warm so it’s better to avoid foods that are excessively cold. Drinking something cold with your meal will turn the food in your stomach into a sticky sludge that will stay in your digestive system as excess weight. If you drink a warm cup of Chinese tea with your meals instead (particularly oolong and pu’er teas, which have amazing fat fighting properties), you can help keep your digestive system running smoothly and avoid excess weight gain at the same time.
HOW DO I CONTROL MY DIET?
Due to changes in diet and lifestyle, more and more people are suffering from obesity. According to Chinese medicine theory, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help with weight reduction by regulating the patient’s endocrine function, helping them control their appetite, reducing their blood cholesterol level and regulating the movements of their body’s intestines.
The AcuMedic weight loss programme includes sessions of acupuncture, as well as individually prescribed Chinese herbal medicine, which can help patients to control their daily food intakes by adjusting the feeding centre of hypothalamus to block the transmission of hunger messages. In addition, it can activate the metabolism to increase energy consumption. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are also used to tonify the organs and encourage the body to flush out toxins. This method is completely free from the side effects that can result from simple hunger therapy, medication, or an overdose of exercise. The programme can also be tailored to those who wish to experience a full body cleansing detox but do not necessarily wish to lose weight. Acupuncture is used to tonify detox organs and encourage the body to flush out the toxins.
AcuMedic discourages behaviours such as extreme diets, which can lead to long term eating disorders. Chinese medicine believes it is possible to enjoy food and to have a healthy weight.
Inside and Out
“Your surroundings make you, so make sure they’re healthy.”
Our health is closely related to the climate and our immediate surroundings. A good supply of clean air replenishes Qi; stale air that can’t circulate stagnates it. Light promotes Qi; excess darkness constrains it. By encouraging good quality Qi into our homes, we can improve our health with very little effort.
HOW DO I PROMOTE A HEALTHY FLOW OF QI AROUND ME?
Good, clean air is a great place to start. Opening the windows, getting outside and deep breathing exercises in good quality air help to replenish Qi. Even though urban societies are commonly surrounded by heavily polluted and dirty air, the air outdoors is still considered better for your health as it circulates, whereas the air indoors is comparatively inactive. Plants are a great way to clean the air within your home and remove toxins. Money plants are a traditional favourite in Chinese homes as they are said to attract the energy of wealth and prosperity, as well as provide a good supply of oxygen. Natural light also encourages Qi into our homes, so as soon as it’s light, pull back the curtains and let as much in as you can
A peaceful mind helps the body stay free from disease and allows for a good circulation of Qi, so it’s important to not only focus on the physical, but also on the emotional. We are all attracted to certain colours, which can have an effect on our moods and well-being. By decorating or putting objects in certain colours around the house, we use colour to help influence our moods.
HOW WILL MAKING THESE CHANGES IMPROVE MY HEALTH?
Keeping our surroundings clean and tidy prevents the development of illness and diseases spreading. It also helps to promote good mental health, as a messy environment could lead to the imbalance of our emotions, which can have a damaging effect on the functioning of the body’s vital organs. To further improve your surroundings, it is also good to work towards the elimination of white noise, harmful toxic gasses and drafts.
As the climate and environment are continuously changing, Chinese medicine encourages us to adapt to these changes to maintain good health and wellbeing. In fact, living in harmony with the seasons is one of the key tenets of Chinese medicine theory. By adapting our diet, wardrobes, sleeping patterns and physical activity according to the seasons, we will ensure a strong body and prolonged life.
Keep On Moving
“Move yourself towards good health.”
Qi moves all around us, but it is easy for it to become stagnated when it can’t circulate properly. The same is true of the Qi inside our bodies. Movement invigorates Qi, whereas inactivity stagnates it. Exercise should be an important part of our daily routine, because it provides a means for Qi to move about the body with ease.
Doing a suitable amount of exercise each week will get your Qi moving, stabilize your mood and relax the body. Exercise in fresh air is even better as it combines a source of abundant, great quality Qi circulating in the air with the most efficient method of getting the Qi moving about the body.
WHAT EXERCISE SHOULD I DO TO HELP MY QI?
Any kind of physical activity is good for keeping our Qi functioning correctly. Regular movement is especially important for those who do a lot of mental work, as physical activities can give your brain time to rest and balance your emotions. Qigong and Taiji are great exercises for both the body and the mind. They combine gentle, flowing movements with meditative and deep breathing elements to harness and promote the flow of Qi.
AcuMedic’s Qigong classes will help you cope with the adversities of life and to enhance your mental state. Our doctors teach a form of medical Qigong and Taiji, which enables you to mobilise the energy in your body for better health and harmony of mind. For bookings and more information, please contact Clinic Reception on 0207 388 6704.
Movement includes both active sports, and passive activities such as massage. Massage is not just a luxury. It should be part of your healthy lifestyle as it will help to unblock Qi and improve the Qi flow throughout your body. We take massage seriously and only the best therapists can call themselves an AcuMedic therapist.
WHAT MASSAGE WILL INVIGORATE MY QI?
Tuina massage is an invigorating and deep Chinese massage which uses special techniques to stimulate your body’s acupressure points and get your Qi flowing. Tuina is based on the same theories as acupuncture. In Chinese medical theory, aches and pains are caused by blockages of Qi. These blockages can be caused by bad posture, injury or another physical condition like stress. Tuina massage unblocks this stagnation to ease pain, free the muscles and joints and improve general health.
Everyone knows the health benefits of movement but good intentions and New Year ‘get fit’ resolutions don’t always last long. By incorporating simple ways to keep our Qi in tip top condition, we can keep on moving and make sure our Qi can keep up.
A Balancing Act
“Finding harmony means learning how to balance.”
To keep healthy Qi should be able to move around the body easily. A balance between working and resting is needed to keep our Qi in good form. Stress and working too much interrupt the smooth flow of Qi around the body and consumes Qi. Laziness, on the other hand, causes Qi to stagnate. The Chinese believe maintaining a balance between work and leisure is an essential part of our well-being, as it will preserve both physical and mental health.
However, finding and keeping a balance between our family commitments, work deadlines and our own relaxation is sometimes much easier said than done. Modern life can be extremely stressful and we often find we have to sacrifice things we want to do in place of things we need to do.
WHAT STEPS COULD I TAKE TOWARDS IMPROVING MY STRESS LEVELS AND QI?
Getting a good night’s sleep can help to break the cycle of stress causing sleep disturbance leading to more stress. Your stress glands recharge between 11pm and 1am so you need to be in bed by 10pm and asleep during this time. White noise from computers and other electrical devices can disturb your sleep so turn them off completely; don’t just put them on standby or silent. If you find it difficult to get into bed so early, try turning the temperature down below 21⁰C and blocking out all light. Give yourself permission to forget all your worries until tomorrow and you’ll soon find yourself drifting off to sleep.
Our reliance on smart phones, laptops and instant notifications has meant we are now contactable at all times. While it may be comforting to be always in the know, it also disturbs any moments of peace and quiet, as well as our sleep. Take time to do a digital detox everyday and enjoy the peace and quiet again. Dedicate an hour each day to do whatever you want to, whether it’s going for a walk, listening to music or reading a book. During this time switch off all communication and just be with yourself. Just having the potential of someone calling you puts your body in a state of readiness, which stops you relaxing.
CAN CHINESE MEDICINE HELP CONTROL MY STRESS LEVELS?
Chinese medicine sees all health disorders in terms of a disturbance in the flow of Qi through your body. Stress is no different. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can help return the flow of Qi back to normal, as well as reduce your stress levels and therefore the health dangers related to stress, and strengthen the vital organs so they are better able to cope with new stress. Come in for a free health advice with one of our AcuMedic doctors and find out how we can help you get your life back on an even keel again.
“Surround yourself with happiness and good health will follow.”
Your Qi flow is affected by others. Whenever we spend time with other people, we give Qi to them and receive Qi from them. That’s why spending time with certain people can leave us feeling invigorated, calm and relaxed or even drained. When you are happy, you receive more Qi and when you are sad, you receive less Qi. When you spend time with positive people, your Qi flow is invigorated. When you spend time with negative people, your Qi flow is depleted. Our emotions affect our Qi and consequently our overall health.
HOW DO OTHER PEOPLE AFFECT ME?
The touch of another person is also a powerful tool for relieving stress and calming the body. After all, who doesn’t feel better after a hug? When touch is combined with movements that relieve built up tension in the muscles, it is even more beneficial. Regular massage isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity. Check out AcuMedic’s express massages for when you need an oasis of calm in the middle of your day. For more information call AcuMedic Clinic on 020 7388 6704.
WILL CHINESE MEDICINE HELP REGULATE MY EMOTIONS?
Chinese medicine believes that your emotions are linked to your vital organs. When the emotions experienced are excessive or are repressed and buried away, your vital organs, blood and Qi will be harmed by them. For example, if you tend to worry a lot and over think things, this will put pressure on your Spleen, the organ which is most associated with the emotion of worry. The Spleen’s main functions in the body are absorbing nutrients from food, transforming those nutrients into Qi and blood, and regulating the digestion. Some of the common symptoms people who are excessive worriers suffer from include poor digestion, loss of appetite and tiredness, which all related back to the functions of the Spleen.
At the same time, an imbalance in our organs can cause us to have excessive emotions. For example, an imbalance in the Liver can cause bouts of short-temperedness and frustration, amongst other symptoms, as the Liver is linked to the emotion of anger. Once the Liver is balanced, the person’s anger levels should return to normal. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can correct any imbalance in our body’s functions and help to regulate our emotions so we don’t feel so up and down in situations or overreact unnecessarily. Our team of doctors don’t overlook any piece of information in their diagnoses, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. In fact, one of the most telling questions they can ask is ‘how are you feeling?’ To book a Full Chinese Herbal Consultation visit http://clinic.acumedic.com/therapies/i/chinese-herbal-consultation/19/
The Chinese Medical doctor also uses other theories such as 5 Element, Zang Fu and Yin and Yang in order to treat their patients.