What is Wei Qi? And How does it relate to the Immune System?
By Warwick Poon
In Chinese medicine theory, every system is described and discussed according to the qi that is performing the physiological action.
In simple terms the production of qi begins when food enters the stomach; food qi is extracted. Food qi is then sent to the lungs, which combine it with air qi, and this forms the basis of the qi that flows into and around the meridians to keep the body alive. When and if there is an excess of this qi, a proportion is converted into Wei (pronounced Way) qi, or “Outside” qi. This is a harder and less permeable qi, and resides mostly on the outside of the body. Its job is to stop pathological qi entering. In our normal Western understanding, we would say this is part of our immune system.
Wei qi is formed in the yin kidney and as explained before, requires a decent amount of meridian qi. Good food and good breathing are mandatory to have a strong immune system. Also, the yin kidney requires strength, to convert the qi, which means that good sleep and regular bowel motions, both of which feed the yin kidney, are also essential.
Finally, the Wei qi has to be conveyed to the surface of the body, and this is accomplished by the action of the Liver yin. For this action to be robust, the liver's emotional functions of defence - fight or flight, such as anger, frustration or depression should be at a minimum. The more calm the mind is, the more contented and happy the person; the stronger the Wei qi on the surface. It's no surprise that meditation has been robustly demonstrated to be beneficial to the strengthening of the immune response.
During these times of anxiety, fear and especially for those of us in Winter, the main things that you can do that will increase your immunity to cold and flu's, of course apart from the usual current precautions like masks, social distancing and washing hands, is to eat well, empty that food regularly, exercise by walking or jogging (breathe deeply), sleep a lot, and stay calm, no matter how angry you may want to be at the crazies that surround you or run the governments.
One final physiological issue to note, is that during sleep, the Wei qi enters the body and dredges the meridians for any bad qi that has managed to enter through the Wei qi, either by stealth or strength. It may have bypassed the Wei qi by travelling into the body whilst attached to food, or a splinter, or a physical droplet of saliva, e.g., from another’s cough.
Alternatively, if it is very strong, it will simply drill straight through the Wei qi, and go directly into one of the more superficial meridians. This can happen when it is attached to cold or dampness; usually both. So, if you are exercising late and are caught in the rain, and come home wet, cold and tired, have a shower, stay warm, have a good sleep that night. And, those who have some, drink a lot of kam wo cha. We sell it at both clinics, and it is easily obtained at a Chinese grocer, provided that they are not sold out. This tea is a Wei qi stimulant, and tonic.
For more information on what you can do to stay well in Winter and for acupuncture treatments for boosting your Wei Qi, come see us at one of our clinics.
If you'd like to get in touch, you can contact us using the link here or call Warwick on 0403 822 593