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Vital Substances

Traditional Chinese Medicine views the human body as a mini eco-system, and therefore shares the same qualities as nature. Just as the earth contains air, water, and land, the basic substances of the human body are Chi, Body Fluids, Blood, and Essence.

Chi is the vital energy that gives us our capacity to move, think, and feel. It protects from illness, and warms the body. Chi is derived from two main sources: the air we breath, and the food we eat.

When the supply of chi to the body is depleted or blocked, organ function is adversely affected by the inability to transform and transport the "energy" necessary to fight illness and disease.

Body Fluids (called Jin Ye) are the liquids which protect, nurture, and lubricate the body in conjunction with the blood. The moisture nourishes the skin, muscles, joints, spine, bone marrow, and brain. Dehydration results in conditions such as dry skin and constipation, while excess fluids manifest in symptoms such as lethargy, and increased production of phlegm.

Blood is the material foundation for bone, nerve, skin, muscle, and organ creation. It also contains the Shen (spirit) which balances the psyche.

Essence, or Jing is the body's reproductive and regenerative substance. Essence regulates growth, development, reproduction, and promotes and works with chi to help protect the body from external factors.

The vital substances circulate through the pathways (meridians), linking all parts of the body. When flowing smoothly they contribute to the healthy state, but if these substances are congested or depleted, symptoms as varied as aches, tension, swelling, asthma, indigestion, and fatigue may result from the disruption.

Five elements


Causes of disharmony


Yin and yang

Back To Traditional Chinese Medicine Basics



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Information provided on this site is for educational use only, and is not intended as medical advice. If you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering remedies.

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