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TCM Vital Substances- Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang

The study of TCM relies greatly on the theory of Yin and Yang and two vital substances Qi and Blood. They represent the mainstay of disease identification and treatment.

The theory of Yin–Yang has a long-standing history. In the 'Book of Changes' (I-ching, c.700 bc), Yin and Yang are symbolized by a broken and unbroken line, respectively. Combinations of the Eight Trigrams (three-line combinations) generate the 64 hexagrams that depict the Universe's diverse manifestations.

Figure 1: The Eight Trigrams

Yin and Yang can be used to describe all things in the universe. Chinese medicine views the human body as a totality, with individual components that may all be evaluated in terms of Yin and Yang. For instance, our organs can be classified into five Yin organs and six Yang organs as shown below.

Figure 2: Yin and Yang Organs

Figure 3: Other representations of Yin and Yang

Qi and Blood, the two basic constituents of the human body, are sometimes characterized in terms of Yin and Yang. Blood is Yin in nature, meaning it is fluid, nourishing, moistening, and substantial. Qi is Yang in nature, meaning it is lively, dynamic, energetic, and etheric. The formation and manifestation of all diseases are caused by an imbalance of Yin and Yang. The table below will illustrate a comparison between the two vital substances.

Table 1: Comparison of Qi and Blood

Hence, a constant balance of Yin and Yang is essential in maintaining the well-being of the human body.

Chinese medicine sees the working of the body and mind as the result of the interaction of certain vital substances. These substances manifest clinically in varying degrees of ‘substantiality’ so that some of them are very rarefied and some totally non-material. Altogether, they constitute the ancient Chinese view of the body-mind. Qi and Blood are two of these vital substances.



Chester Ng

Chong Hoe Healthcare


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