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What is Wei Qi? Boost Your Immune System with TCM 

Wei qi is the human body’s protective barrier against infections. Here’s how you can strengthen your defensive qi and keep illnesses at bay.

Close-up of smiling woman flexing both her arms as she stands in front of a pink wall. 

If you don’t want to fall ill easily, boosting your wei qi is crucial. For years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has stressed that it helps protect the body against harmful bacteria or viruses (pathogens) that cause illness and disease. But what exactly is wei qi, and how does it keep you healthy? 

Wei qi (胃气) is your Spleen and stomach’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. For healthy people, having a good balance of wei qi is a sign of good health. If you’re sick, defensive qi directly influences your recovery process.” 

Eu Yan Sang Physician Jolene Chong

To understand wei qi better, it’s important to know that your immune system has two parts; the adaptive and innate immune systems.

The adaptive immune system has T and B cells that recognise specific pathogens and prevents them from causing illness in the future. The innate immune system is your body’s first line of defence against germs, and it’s fast acting and non-specific.

Wei qi can be likened to your innate immunity because it stops pathogens from entering your body. 

Read on to learn more about defensive qi (vital life force) and the steps you can take to keep it strong.

The Importance of Wei Qi in TCM 

In TCM, your Kidneys store your body’s hereditary energy while your Spleen stores acquired energy. Keeping your Spleen and stomach healthy is as important as correcting weak body constitutions to achieve strong wei qi. Maintaining a healthy amount of it also helps your body absorb nutrients and support the Heart, Lung, Liver, Kidney, and Spleen systems.

If your wei qi is weak, it can lead to Blood and Qi Deficiencies. As a result, these imbalances can impair qi circulation and your body’s ability to grow muscle. You may also experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and burping.

That’s not all. Having weak wei qi makes you lethargic and nauseous, turns your skin pale or yellow, and reduces your appetite. It can also trigger digestive disorders, such as bloating, vomiting, burping, and acid reflux.

Natural Methods to Strengthen Your Wei Qi 

Here’s how you can maintain a strong immune system and boost this protective shield 

Eat whole foods

Close-up of oatmeal porridge with chopped nuts and bananas in a black-coloured bowl alongside honey, almonds, bananas and cinnamon sticks on a wooden table.
Oatmeal bowls are one of the best breakfast options as they’re a rich source of essential nutrients.

Say goodbye to foods loaded with artificial additives, preservatives, dyes, and pesticides. Elevate your food game and include fresh, local produce, such as leafy greens, fruits, nuts and seeds such as leafy greens, fruits, nuts and seeds in your diet. 

Start every day off right with a bowl of warm porridge and a glass of room temperature water between 7am to 9am. During this period, your stomach is the most active, making it the best time to optimise digestion and nutrient absorption.

Cut down on deep-fried foods or foods that are too hard, sticky, sour, sweet, or spicy. Be mindful of how frequently you eat beans, pumpkins, yams, and sweet potatoes, as these can make you gassy.

Exercise regularly 

You’ve heard it before, but here it is again – regular exercise is good for you. Aim to move for 30 minutes, five days a week, to elevate your heart rate and circulate Lung qi. Sweating also helps your body get rid of pathogens that may potentially harm your wei qi.  

Strike a balance between aerobic activity and stretching, yoga, Qigong routines, and breathing techniques. A combination of these different activity types can improve your physical and spiritual wellness holistically. 

Take herbal medication 

Certain herbs can boost wei qi. Hawthorn fruit (shan zha, 山楂), white radish (lai fu zi, 莱菔子), and chicken gizzard skin (ji nei jin, 鸡内金) promote healthy digestion and prevent stagnation in the stomach. Pseudostellaria root (tai zi shen, 太子参), and Largehead Atractylodes Rhizome (bai zhu, 白术) will help with Wei Qi Deficiency. 

Wei qi can move upwards, causing bloating and vomiting. To ease these symptoms, use herbs such as Officinal magnolia bark (hou pu, 厚朴), inula (xuan fu hua, 旋覆花), and red ochre (dai zhe shi, 代赭石).

Glehnia root (sha shen, 沙参), dwarf lilyturf root, (mai dong, 麦冬), and tricosanthes root (tian hua fen, 天花粉) can each cool Stomach Fire and help regulate wei qi.

Undergo acupuncture

Acupuncture by an acupuncturist and regularly massaging acupoints that connect to the stomach meridian – zu san li, zhong wan (CV12, 中脘), and tian shu (ST25, 天枢) – can also help. 

Now that you’re equipped with knowledge about wei qi, you can start taking steps to build a defence against illnesses. Support your efforts with traditional remedies but be sure to speak to a TCM practitioner beforehand.

Found this article useful? Share it with your family members and friends who can do with a boost of wei qi. 

References

  1. Nava Health. What is Wei Qi? Do you know? [online] [Accessed 30 January 2023]  
  2. Wikipedia. Adaptive immune system. [online] [Accessed 30 January 2023] 
  3. National Library of Medicine. 2020. The innate and adaptive immune systems. [online] [Accessed 30 January 2023]  
  4. Mend. 2020. Your First Line of Defense: Wei Qi. [online] [Accessed 30 January 2023]  
  5. Rebel Med Northwest. 2020. Wei Qi, The Body’s Protective Shield. [online] [Accessed 30 January 2023] 
  6. Mbghealth. 2020. The 4 Pressure Points An Acupuncturist Uses To Support Immunity. [online] [Accessed 30 January 2023] 

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