Qi Stagnation 101

Qi Stagnation 101
January 18, 2021 welleum


Now What?

Qi Stagnation in TCM - hands blocking

Let’s start with the basics.

What is Qi?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qi is the life force or vital energy that runs throughout everything. Basically, Qi is energy, and it’s in everything from your computer to your blood. To stay healthy and happy, you need Qi to flow strongly throughout your body, delivering energy to every organ and muscle.

What is Qi Stagnation?

When your Qi becomes blocked or slows down, we call this Qi stagnation. This can cause slow blood flow, leading to lots of health issues. In TCM, most imbalances in the body and mind are related to stagnant Qi in one way or another.

Symptoms of Qi Stagnation

Some of the signs of Qi stagnation are:

  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Hiccups
  • Feelings of anger
  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen
  • No appetite
  • Extreme PMS symptoms

However, your exact symptoms depend on where the root of your stagnation is.

What Causes Qi Deficiency?

Meditation In Eastern MedicineIn TCM, all parts of our body and mind are connected, so an imbalance in one place can affect a completely different system or organ!

There are a few things that can cause Qi stagnation. One is using too much Qi in your everyday routine. If you’re a workaholic who can’t seem to slow down and rest, you’re probably using up a lot of Qi on a daily basis. If you work too much and don’t take enough time to chill, you become burned out–and so does your Qi!

It’s also possible that traumatic life events and overthinking can stagnate Qi. This might be because the Liver manages stress, so stressful events can cause problems in that organ which helps to regulate Qi.

Types of Qi Stagnation and How To Treat Them

Qi flows throughout everything in your body, from your toes to the top of your head. But the Liver, Spleen, Stomach, and Lungs are the organs that are most involved with moving your Qi throughout your body. That means they’re also the organs most likely to cause big problems when they’re stagnant.

Here’s some more info on how Qi stagnation shows up in different organ systems, and how to help get things flowing again.

Liver Qi Stagnation

Liver Qi Stagnation - Sad WomanIn  TCM, your Liver is an important organ because it helps to move Qi throughout your entire body. And because it’s also related to stress and emotions, your Liver Qi can stagnate if you’re dealing with a lot of emotional and mental problems. Overthinking, anxiety, and stress can all cause liver Qi stagnation, but physical trauma (like an injury or surgery) can have an effect too. 

Some signs of Liver Qi stagnation are:

  • Moodiness or mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Jealousy
  • Irregular periods
  • Intense PMS symptoms
  • Red tongue

To reinvigorate your liver Qi, try adding onions, turmeric, basil and bay leaf to your daily menu. You could also work out more, meditate, or simply spend some time in nature.

Lung Qi Stagnation

Lung Qi Stagnation - Man CoughingIn TCM, your lung Qi is in charge of your immune system. That means if you’ve been sick recently, it’s likely your Lung Qi is stagnant or struggling.

There are the signs of stagnant lung Qi:

  • Coughing, especially after physical exertion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weak or quiet voice
  • Feeling the need to clear your throat often
  • Sweating without reason
  • Runny nose
  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • Pale tongue
  • Chest tightness

To get your lung Qi flowing again, try adding in Ginger to your diet. You can use it to cook, take it in a supplement, or have it as a tea. You can also try to take short walks to build up your lLung strength, as long as it’s not too cold outside–the cold and the damp is bad for lLng Qi.

Spleen Qi Stagnation

Spleen Qi Stagnation - Stomach AcheWestern medicine understands the Spleen as a rather unimportant organ that filters blood and helps our immune system, but ultimately, we can (literally) live without it.

But according to TCM practitioners, the Spleen is related to the pancreas and is key for digestion. It takes all the Qi out of foods we eat and helps send it throughout our bodies. If your TCM practitioner thinks you have a Qi deficiency, they’ll probably try and treat your spleen first.

Because of its role in the digestive system, when Spleen Qi is stagnant, you’ll notice some gastrointestinal issues like:

  • No appetite
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Gassiness
  • Bloating
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Struggling to focus
  • Diabetes

Spleen Qi stagnation can also cause Liver stagnation, so it’s very important to stay on top of your Spleen health.

Stomach Qi Stagnation

Stomach Qi Stagnation - Stomach PainWhen was the last time you sat down for a meal and took your time to enjoy it without any other distractions? If you can’t remember, you probably either have stomach Qi stagnation or will eventually. Easting on the go, or eating when you’re distracted, stressed, or worried can cause your stomach Qi to be sluggish. 

If you notice any of these signs, you might have stagnant stomach Qi:

  • Swelling or bloating in your upper stomach
  • Gassiness
  • Hiccups
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Redness on the sides of your tongue

To undo your stomach Qi stagnation, try eating more mindfully. Don’t eat on the go or when you’re worried, stressed, or angry. Tension and strong emotions while dining can cause this stagnation, so take a few minutes to meditate or center yourself before a meal.

It’s also a good idea to lower your coffee intake and eat dinner early in the evening. You can snack before bed, but it’s best to avoid big meals or heavy snacks before you hit the pillow. 

If you don’t take care of this problem, you might develop problems with your spleen and blood. 

Have you noticed that you’re feeling sluggish, foggy, or irritable lately? It’s highly possible that your Qi is stagnant somewhere in your body. Hopefully this guide will help you learn more about where you might be having troubles, but double-check your self-diagnoses with your TCM practitioner. They can help guide you in the right direction for treatment!

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