Wei Qi - Immune Support
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Wei Qi or Defensive Qi for Immune Support
In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the Wei Qi circulates on the surface of the body, protecting the body
from pathogens such as bacteria and viruses; this concept is loosely related to how modern medicine views the immune system and is thousands of years old. In western medicine, only viruses can cause viral infections. In Chinese medicine, viruses and other pathogens are ever present and do not generally pose a threat to health unless the Wei Qi is weak and cannot protect the body.
According to Chinese medicine, disease is more likely to occur when defenses have been weakened and resources have been depleted. If a person maintains an unhealthy diet or does not get adequate sleep over time, the Wei Qi is weakened and defenses are unavailable; similarly, if a person is exposed to excessive amounts of damp weather or wind, their Wei Qi and adaptive strengths will weaken and they can more easily develop an external pathogenic disease pattern.
In western medicine and eastern medicine, the immune system is a functional system that includes a symphony of organs and interrelated functions. Chinese medicine focuses on maintaining balance throughout the human organism to maintain a healthy Wei Qi.
Here are some common imbalances associated with Wei Qi:
Wei Qi – Lung Imbalances
The Lung system is the most exterior organ and is the first internal organ typically affected by exterior pathogens. The Lung system also includes skin and is associated with Wei Qi and the ability to have a strong defense.
Wei Qi – Kidney Imbalances
The Kidney system includes bone marrow (and Blood production) in Chinese medicine and is closely associated with DNA and familial attributes of disease patterns. Abundant Jing, or Essence is vital in maintaining a healthy Wei Qi.
Wei Qi – Spleen Imbalances
The Spleen according to Chinese medicine plays a central role in blood production and is responsible for how we utilize nutrients vital for a healthy immune response. The Spleen system also influences the amount of Internal Dampness that
Wei Qi and Qi Deficiencyaccumulates in the body. Internal Damp Phlegm creates stagnation throughout the body and throughout the lymphatic system impeding the lymph fluid from transporting toxins out of the body.
When there is not enough Qi and Blood circulating to the organs to properly nourish them, the organs become weak and susceptible to pathogens and disease. Deficient conditions would include a poor appetite and the person would be tired. Generally, a Wei Qi Deficiency would include a Qi Deficient pattern.
If Organ Systems become diseased, the proper systems of elimination such as the lymphatic system, Liver, skin, and Kidneys will become less effective and accumulations will occur. Health in the body relies on the constant movement of Blood, Qi, and interstitial fluids; if fluids stagnate, they heat up just as a stagnant pond accumulates bacteria and algae and heats up. Moreover, an accumulation of toxins can in itself overpower the Wei Qi and create a friendly terrain for disease. Look to herbs for detoxificationi n cases of excess impeding the Wei Qi.
In Chinese medicine, the immune system begins with the Protective Qi, or Wei Qi. Wei Qi circulates just below the skin during the day and it keeps pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and toxins at the exterior of the body. A strong Wei Qi wards off pathogens. If the Wei Qi is a bit weak, pathogens can 1st move to the exterior level of the body where they can cause a cold or flu. If the pathogen is not properly treated and expelled, it can move deeper to the organ system level where chronic disease patterns can develop. The body must have abundant Qi to maintain Wei Qi.
As any organic gardener can tell you, vegetables and herbs grown in a healthy rich soil are not as susceptible to pests and disease as plants that are grown in a poor soil. Likewise, a body that is nourished, healthy, and balanced is not susceptible to viral infections, bacterial infections, or disease. Nutritive tonic herbs are excellent at rebuilding core health just as adding compost and organic material strengthens the soil.
Preventing disease has been a core concept in Chinese medicine; the Neijing, an ancient TCM medical texts states, “To administer medicines to diseases which have already developed and to suppress revolts which have already developed is comparable to the behavior of those persons who begin to dig a well after they have become thirsty, and of those who begin to make their weapons after they have already engaged in battle. Would these actions not be too late?” This belief was further emphasized by the fact that doctors of that time were paid to keep their flock well, and lost status if their patients fell ill.