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Home > Education > Theory > Qi Stagnation

Why Qi can Stagnate

By Victoria Dragon

Once you've recognized that Qi is Stagnant, the next question is why is the Qi Stagnant? Qi Stagnation (Qi blocked or not flowing very smoothly) can arise from a number of causes.

One of the main ones is emotional problems. What is meant by this is that the person either is repressing emotions or giving in to them too much. Emotions - like energy - only cause problems when they're blocked or inappropriately channeled. Blocking emotions includes things like refusing to acknowledge them, being in denial about them, etc. Inappropriately channeling them includes things like a person who substitutes one emotion for another. Like a person who substitutes feeling anger in order keep from having face a more threatening emotion like fear or feeling helpless and vulnerable. This often is a person who throws temper tantrums, is always angry, and is abusive towards others. The giving in to anger and over- and inappropriately expressing anger is a way to keep from having to face and deal with emotions which are more threatening to the person than anger is. Scapegoating is another form of inappropriately channeling emotions. Instead of confronting the person who is responsible for the original pain and rage, the person will take it out on others. Needless to say, this never works for very long, and the abuser who engages in this starts to require more frequent and more severe "fixes" of taking the anger out on others. The only cure is for the person to eventually confront the true source of the pain and rage.

TCM looks at the effects that various emotions have on energy flow in the body. Each meridian (pathway of energy) has a proper direction of flow, and each emotion will affect energy flow in a different way. Energy in the Stomach meridian is supposed to descend. If it "Rebels" and flows upward instead, a person can experience problems like nausea (not the only possible cause of nausea but one of the possible causes), vomiting, and burping. The flow of energy in the Spleen meridian is supposed to ascend. When it "Sinks" instead of rising, the person can experienced problems like a prolapsed stomach, prolapsed uterus, prolapsed anus, etc.

Each of the emotions have an effect on energy flow. Anger and frustration will cause it to rise inappropriately or to Stagnate. Stagnation can trigger another TCM imbalance. Energy that stays in one place for too long and can't move freely produces Heat, and if this goes on too long, this Heat can change into destructive Fire, and the person has some major health problems. Think of the analogy of an electric wire carrying more electricity than its diameter can safely carry. The thinner wire - unlike a thicker one - will overheat. If it gets too hot this can cause a fire. Another analogy is a pressure cooker. All pressure cookers have a vent for releasing excess pressure. If it didn't and the pressure rose too much, the entire pressure cooker would cxplode. Something similar to this can happen in the body when Qi Stagnates.

Note for those new to TCM: The Liver and the Gall Bladder are the two Organ systems most vulnerable to anger and frustration.

Something else which can cause Qi to Stagnate is Cold. If a person suffers long enough from Exterior Excess Cold (cold weather) and it invades to the Interior, or, if the person is Yang Deficient (not enough Yang energy to warm the body properly), Qi Stagnation can result. Cold slows things down and congeals. Think of a stream or river frozen in the winter. Even if the stream or river doesn't freeze entirely, the water isn't flowing like it usually does. And even the water at the bottom of the stream or river which is still flowing is flowing much slower than it usually does.

An excess of foods that are too Cold or foods that are too Hot also can trigger Qi Stagnation problems.

Mechanical injury can produce Qi Stagnation problems. Accidents or surgery. In these cases, Blood Stasis (Blood not flowing properly) developing because of the accident (bruises) or after the surgery usually is the more immediate problem, but Qi Stagnation also can result. Blood Stasis if not treated can trigger Qi Stagnation problems just like Qi Stagnation (in particular Liver Qi Stagnation) can trigger Blood Stasis problems if left untreated long enough.

Spinal misalignment also can trigger Qi Stagnation problems. Massage may be able to take care of some of these problems. In other cases the person may need to see a chiropractor or a DO (Doctor of Osteopathy). Spinal misalignment can arise due to different causes. Sometimes a person is born with one leg longer than the other. Sometimes an accident will cause the problem. Sometimes cold can cause the problem. In addition to cold being able to trigger Qi Stagnation by causing the muscles to contract excessively, these muscles staying contracted too long because of cold can throw the alignment of the spine off in some susceptible individuals, thus creating further triggers for Qi Stagnation.

There are other possible causes of Qi Stagnation. These are some of the main ones.

I want to make some additional comments here. Once there has been damage to the Liver and/or Gall Bladder whatever the initial cause - emotional, poisoning, virus or bacterial infection, mechanical trauma such as accident or surgery, parasites - the person is going to be more prone to experiencing anger and frustration than before. This is a snowballing situation. Once the Liver is damaged from whatever initial trigger, the person will be more prone to feeling anger, the increased anger will further damage the Liver which results in more anger which then further damages the Liver, and so on. It snowballs - just like a snowball rolled in snow will keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

When someone appears very angry suspect and rule in or rule out Liver imbalance and/or pain. People in chronic pain very often will appear and be angry. Even low level chronic pain that a person has learned to ignore consciously can produce this effect. This correlation between pain and anger is not surprising to someone in TCM. One of the possible manifestations of Qi Stagnation is pain. Be it headaches due to Liver Yang Rising or Liver Fire Blazing or pain in the sides due to Liver Qi Stagnation or pains in the lover abdomen that move around a lot. Not all pain is due to Qi Stagnation (there are other possible Roots) but in cases of pain due to Qi Stagnation, that pain can be relieved by the appropriate herbs, acupoints, or massage techniques that get Qi flowing properly again. Sometimes the appropriate herbs may be a combination of different classes of herbs. For example, in cases of pain due to Qi Stagnation due to Cold, herbs to move Qi by themselves won't be enough. You also will need to include warming herbs to correct the Cold which was and is the trigger for the Qi Stagnation. In the case of pain due also to Blood Stasis as well as to Qi Stagnation, both herbs to move Blood and to move Qi will need to be used.

Knowing the basics of TCM and how things work will enable you to analyze more thoroughly than you otherwise would be able to. For example, someone comes in who complains of having felt cold and having trouble warming up for a very, very long time. In this particular case, Yang Deficiency stands out as the major analysis. The Yang Deficiency is so severe that it dwarfs everything else and may even mask some other problems. In cases like this, you can just about bet that there are going to be some Qi Stagnation problems. Yang tonic herbs and herbs to warm the Interior may or may not be enough in one of these particular cases. You may also need to include an herb to get Qi moving properly. When problems go untreated for a very long time and trigger other problems, the other problems can assume lives of their own. In other words, they gain such a foothold that they will continue even if the original imbalance which gave rise to them is corrected.

Victoria Dragon

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ChineseHealing  

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