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Qi, Blood And Body Fluid

Qi, blood and body fluid are important substances and structures in the body. They sustain the vital activities and they nourish the body, thereby keeping the functions of the tissues, organs and channels in good order. The production and circulation of qi and blood also depends on the health of the tissues and organs that are nourished by these substances.

Qi is a complex concept; it relates to both substance and function. Clean qi (oxygen), waste qi (carbon dioxide) and qi (nutrients) are generally known as material qi, and the existence of material qi is shown by the functional activity of various organs. The function of an organ depends on the functional qi of that organ; for instance, qi of xin-heart or qi of pi-spleen is the vital energy and functional activity of the xin-heart or pi-spleen. The function of an organ, or its functional qi, cannot exist without material qi, and vice versa.

Zhong qi
Zhong qi is found mainly in the chest. It nourishes the structures and functions of the xin-heart and fei-lung.

Nourishing qi
Nourishing qi circulates in the channels and collaterals, mainly in the viscera

Defensive qi
Defensive qi is in the muscles and skin. It circulates outside the channels, in the subcutaneous tissues, and it defends the body against invasion by pathogens.

The original qi is nourished and maintained by qi derived after birth. These combine to form genuine qi, i.e. the total sum of qi in the healthy body. This contrasts with pathogenic factors that are known as pathogenic qi.

The nutrients from food are digested by the pi-spleen and stomach and they are then transported to the xin-heart and fei-lung and turned into red (oxygenated) blood by qi. The essence of shen-kidney produces bone marrow, and bone marrow uses the digested food to produce blood. Qi of shen-kidney promotes digestion by pi-spleen, which in turn strengthens the xin-heart and fei-lung. This interaction therefore promotes haemopoesis. There is a close relationship between qi and blood. The formation and circulation of blood depends on qi, whereas the formation and distribution of qi, as well as the health of the various organs of the body, is dependent on adequate nourishment from the blood. If the flow of blood 'stagnates' the circulation of qi is 'retarded' and, conversely, if the circulation of qi is 'retarded' then the blood flow 'stagnates'.

Body Fluid
Body fluid is formed from food and drink. It exists in the blood, the tissues, and all the body openings and cavities.


The Pathogenesis of Disease

Pathogenic Factors are divided into three main groups, exogenous pathogens, mental pathogens and various miscellaneous pathogens. 'Phlegm and humour' and 'stagnant blood' are pathological products; once they are formed new pathological changes will ensue so they are considered to be secondary pathogens.

The Exogenous Pathogens
The movability and changeability of symptoms characterize this pathogen. The clinical manifestations are abnormal limb motion, such as spasm or twitching, and a wandering symptomatic site as in urticaria or arthralgia. The symptoms may vary in intensity and they usually include a dislike of wind, fever, sweating, headache and an itchy throat.

Invasion of cold will consume the yang causing a contraction of the channels and the blood vessels, and therefore a poor circulation of qi and blood. The symptoms are those of a slight fever, a dislike of cold, hypohydrosis, headache, muscular pain and spasm, and occasionally a dark blue and painful area in the local muscles and skin; a frozen shoulder is a good example of the pathogen cold.

Summer heat
This only occurs in the summer; it damages the yin and may progress to affect the level of consciousness. The symptoms are excessive body heat, profuse sweating, thirst, a dry mouth, dry red skin and, in severe cases, delirium (this is known as heat exhaustion in Chinese medicine). Summer heat may combine with wind and cause convulsions. Summer heat often combines with damp to produce dizziness, nausea, a stuffy sensation in the chest and general malaise.

Diseases caused by damp are sticky, muddy, greasy and stagnant. Damp causes a generalized heavy feeling associated with distension, dizziness and a heavy head, general malaise and a stuffy sensation in the chest. The patient may also complain of abdominal swelling and an exudative and prolonged skin disease.

Dryness consumes yin fluid. There may be a dry sore feeling in the nose, mouth and throat, a coarseness of the skin, or a cough with scanty sputum and possibly haemoptysis. Tuberculosis is an example of the pathogen dryness.

Heat (fire, warmth)
All these represent the same pathogen, but at different intensities. Fire is the most severe and warmth the mildest. As with summer heat the yin may be damaged and this will affect the level of consciousness. The main difference is that summer heat only occurs in the summer and is generally less severe than fire. Diseases that are caused by heat are generally of abrupt onset and rapid change. They are nearly always acute infections. Initially the patient may complain of a high fever, chill, thirst, restlessness, irritability and profuse sweating. In severe cases the patient may be in coma with convulsions.

Mental Pathogens
These are overjoy, anger, anxiety, overthinking, grief, fear and fright. Excessive fear and fright, or over-joy, injures the xin-heart. This causes palpitations, insomnia, irritability, anxiety and mental abnormality. Excessive anger causes dysfunction of the gan-liver. This impairs the function of freeing, and causes pain and distention in the costal and hypochondriac region, abnormal menstruation, depression and irritability. If the function of storing blood is disturbed then menorrhagia and hemorrhage can result. Excessive grief, anxiety and over-thinking cause dysfunction of the pi-spleen and stomach. This causes anorexia and a feeling of fullness or distension after meals. Excessive grief, anxiety and anger cause poor circulation of qi and blood. If there is retardation of qi and stagnation of blood then this can cause a tumor.

Miscellaneous Pathogens
Irregular feeding
Overeating, or eating too much uncooked or cold food, impairs the function of pi-spleen and stomach and causes nausea, vomiting, heartburn, sour regurgitation and diarrhea, for example dyspepsia, gastritis and enteritis. The intake of contaminated food may impair the function of pi-spleen and stomach, and cause intestinal infections and various parasitic diseases.

Too little or excessive physical labor
Excessive physical labor results in feebleness, emaciation, palpitations and dizziness. Too little physical exercise causes a poor circulation, limp muscles, soft bones and obesity. This lowers the resistance of the body to disease.

Traumatic injuries
These are the same as in Western medicine.

Stagnant blood
Stagnant blood can cause pain. The painful area is fixed and has a stabbing, boring or colicky nature. Stagnant blood causes hemorrhage, ecchymosis or petechia. tagnant blood can cause a mass. This can be any sort of mass, tumor, splenomegaly or hepatomegaly.

Phlegm and humour
Phlegm and humour are formed when water metabolism is disordered; an accumulation of excess water then turns into phlegm or humour. Phlegm and humour in the lung causes cough, dyspnoca and excessive sputum. Phlegm and humour in the stomach causes abdominal distension and a succussion sound. Phlegm covering the heart orifice causes coma and a rattling sound from the sputum in the throat, such as in a stroke. Phlegm accumulating subcutaneously occurs when there is a subcutaneous lymph node.