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Qi (Chi or Ki) - Ethnoscience Glossary Terms and Abbreviations

The practice of traditional Chinese medicine is founded upon the concept of qi or vital energy. Qi is the energy and potential energy that flows throughout and around the body, animating us and connecting us to all aspects of the world around us. It is manifested as the energy that animates life forms and as potential energy in the physical world, in the earth, water and air. The proper balanced flow of individual qi is essential for optimum health. Disruptions, imbalances or blockages in the flow of qi result in illness. For example, physical pain often results from qi stagnation (qi that is "stuck" or not circulating).
In the human being, qi circulates through 12 main meridians or energy pathways. Each meridian is associated with specific organs and body functions. There are over 1,000 nodes or acupoints along these meridians that focus or amplify the energy. The energy flow can be most effectively manipulated at these acupoints. The flow of qi can be detected and measured as electric currents that flow along the meridians. Qi is perceived as a physical entity that can be measured using electronic devices and influenced using herbs and techniques such as qi gong and acupuncture.

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