Stagnation According to Chinese Medicine
by Warwick Poon
In Chinese Medicine (CM), lumps and bumps, both dangerous as well as simply incidental, are considered to be qi stagnations that have been there so long that they have finally turned physical. Like all stagnations in CM, there are three parts to the equation.
From an acupuncturist's view, life depends on the flow of qi, and must be supported at all costs. Acupuncture is concerned with the the movement of qi. If the qi moves, and is not allowed to stagnate, then the blood must also move, just as day follows night. If the blood moves, then no lumps will be born.
Firstly, qi is moved around the body's channels by the action of the Lung's energy. The ability to push through a blockage is reduced, in line with the reduction of strength of the Lung. Blockages therefore are more likely to form and remain when the Lung energy is compromised. This means that when you are suffering a cold, or have asthma, or are simply feeling unsure of yourself, it is more likely that you suffer other, unrelated stagnations (pains). When you are feeling better, and the qi is flowing smoothly through the channels you feel happier, and have more energy to do those things that make you happy, and confident. The Lung is stronger, and able to blow the qi through the channels with more force, more pressure, more tenacity to get through the blocks, more vigour to reach the smallest part of the body. This is what a strong, vibrant Lung looks and feels like.
The second part of this abnormality is the channels themselves. When a person is tense or stressed by life then the channels themselves tighten up, or reduce in circumference. This is a biological or ancestral need for sudden explosive energy. In the West we have called it the “fight or flight response”. If this happens too often, and for too long, the channels, which distribute the qi all over the body, become thinner all of the time. This means that they become more prone to stagnations. The organ whose energy controls the free flow of qi in the channels, is the same as the organ that reduces their size and flow. It is the Liver.
The third and final part of this equation is the one less often discussed in CM, but more often by the Naturopaths, and Western alternative medicines, and that is the ability to manufacture the qi itself. We, as physical animals, make qi by the process of ingesting and digesting food, and mix this food essence with the essence of air(breathing) and this combination is the qi that the Lungs force into the channels and flows to every cell of the body. In this case we are concerned with the quality of the qi that is manufactured. If the qi is lively and full of energy, then it can assist the health of the body readily, but if it is fat and listless then the repair and maintenance of the body is endangered.
We are talking about what and how you eat. What you eat has a direct bearing on the type of qi that you make. Your emotions at the time that you eat, will have an effect on the organs and their ability to process the food into qi. If you are eating this particular food because it is good for you, but hate the taste, then it will not process well anyway. On the other hand, even if the food is considered unhealthy, if it is eaten in good spirits, with good conversation, with good friends, then it will be processed much better and refined to a less unhealthy standard. It will end up being good.The other thing to note is that one meal will make no difference. Your consistent diet is what counts. One meal out of the ordinary will not suddenly cause trouble. It is comparable to doing a five kilometre walk every day for a month, and then one day not being able to do the walk. This one day off will not cause you to loose all fitness. If you are on a diet, one meal excess will have almost no effect, just as long as you return to the diet again straight after. Of course too often and you have compromised your diet.