Qi Deficiency

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 气虚

Pinyin name: Qì Xū

Associated TCM concepts: Qi Deficiency / Empty

Related conditions: Heavy menstruation Abnormal uterine bleeding

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Fatigue Coughing Tiredness Dizziness Weak voice and twenty two other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

When Qi is Deficient, it typically appears as tiredness or weakness in the body. Since Qi is lacking, it is unable to perform any of its functions. Some of the symptoms for Qi Deficiency also commonly apply for other conditions. The overall differentiating symptoms for Qi Deficiency, however, is that there will be accompanying tiredness and weakness as well.

This may apply to any of the different types of Qi, including the Qi in Organs. For instance, if Defensive Qi is insufficient, the person may be prone to frequent colds and flu and spontaneous sweating. If Spleen Qi is Deficient, the Uterus or Bladder may prolapse or the appetite may be poor and digestion sluggish. Kidneys Qi Deficiency may cause poor Body Fluids regulation and thus leads to edema, frequent urination or incontinence. The most common types of Qi Deficiency are Lungs and Spleen Qi Deficiencies. This is because the Lungs 'govern Qi' and the Spleen is the source of Qi through its activity of transformation and transportation. Heart and Kidneys Qi Deficiencies are also fairly common.

Diagnosing Qi Deficiency

Qi is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Qi in Chinese Medicine

Diagnosing a pattern in Chinese Medicine is no easy feat and should be left to professional practitioners.

In particular one has to know how to differentiate between different types of pulses and tongue coatings, shapes and colors. Here patients with Qi Deficiency will tend to exhibit empty (Xu) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Qi Deficiency might experience symptoms like shortness of breath, weak voice, spontaneous sweating and poor appetite (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Qi Deficiency

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Source date: 1247

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner). Raises the Yang. Detoxifies. Lifts what has sunken.

Formula summary

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1247, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi.

Besides Qi Deficiency, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is also used to treat Qi Collapsing or Qi Sinking or Spleen Qi Sinking.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Formula summary

Gui Pi Tang is a 12-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ginseng (Ren Shen), Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi), Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu) and Liquorice (Gan Cao) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1529 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi and Blood.

Besides Qi Deficiency, Gui Pi Tang is also used to treat Blood Deficiency or Heart Blood Deficiency.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang

Si Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Formula summary

Si Jun Zi Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ginseng (Ren Shen) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1107 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi.

Besides Qi Deficiency, Si Jun Zi Tang is also used to treat Stomach Qi Deficiency or Spleen and Lung Qi Deficiency.

Read more about Si Jun Zi Tang

Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach. Clears Phlegm and mucus. Promotes appetite.

Formula summary

Liu Jun Zi Tang is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ginseng (Ren Shen) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1107, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi.

Besides Qi Deficiency, Liu Jun Zi Tang is also used to treat Spleen and Lung Qi Deficiency or Phlegm.

Read more about Liu Jun Zi Tang

Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Yang.

Formula summary

Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi), Ginseng (Ren Shen) and Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1826 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi and Blood.

Besides Qi Deficiency, Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang is also used to treat Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency.

Read more about Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang

Ju Yuan Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood.

Formula summary

Ju Yuan Jian is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1624 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi.

Read more about Ju Yuan Jian

Special highlight: the link between abnormal uterine bleeding and Qi Deficiency

Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) is the key herb for Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a formula used for abnormal uterine bleeding caused by Qi Deficiency

The pathology of abnormal uterine bleeding is a bit similar to that of spontaneous flow of breast milk. A key cause is that Qi is not strong enough to hold Body Fluids - be they breast milk or menstruation blood - so the Fluids flow out unwantedly. Since this is an Deficient type of bleeding, it is characterized by flooding at the beginning of the period, which then stops and continues with dripping after the periods end. A pale red blood color is a typical symptom. 

The Spleen is the major...Read more about abnormal uterine bleeding

Special highlight: the link between heavy menstruation and Qi Deficiency

Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) is the key herb for Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a formula used for heavy menstruation caused by Qi Deficiency

Typical symptoms for heavy menstruation caused by Qi Deficiency: Tiredness Weak Limbs Palpitations Shortness of breath Pale menstrual blood Thin and watery periods

Recommended herbal formulas: Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, Gui Pi Tang, Ju Yuan Jian

Qi Deficiency is a key cause of heavy menstruation and abnormal uterine bleeding. The way it works is that Qi is not firm enough to hold Blood in the vessels and it therefore flows out unwantedly. The Directing and Penetrating Vessels are also too weak to contain Blood. 

The Spleen is the major Organ involved in this pattern because its role is to 'transform and transport' food and drinks, extracting Grain Qi (Gu Qi) out of them, and distributing it to other Organs and Blood vessels....Read more about heavy menstruation