Thursday, October 27, 2011

THE FIVE FUNDAMENTAL SUBSTANCES

The five substances are Qi, Blood, Body Fluids, Jing (Essence), and Shen (Spirit). Chinese medicine
sees the working of the body–mind as the interaction of these substances. All of the other substances
are seen as manifestations of the most important substance, Qi, varying from the very substantial
Blood and Body Fluids, to the more ethereal Jing and Shen.
Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold said it best: ”Qi, Moisture, Blood, Essence and Shen
are interdependent, cogenerating and mutually regulating constituents and processes. Moisture
cannot be separated from the function of moisturizing, Blood from nourishing and Qi from moving.
Without proper Moisture, Qi becomes Hot and agitated and Blood dries up and congeals. Without
Blood, Moisture is dispersed and Qi is scattered. Without Qi, both Moisture and Blood stagnate,
coagulate and stop circulating. Without Essence, the body has no material source; without Shen
the body lacks presence, having neither spirit nor mind. Thus, Chinese medicine identifies disease
as a disorder of relationships, not a singular, unvarying entity.”39
Associated with the Five Fundamental Substances and related to their primary activities are
the Five Fundamental Processes. These processes, which go on in all living organisms, are gener-
ation, transformation, movement and circulation (transport), storage, and regulation. These Western
physiological concepts apply to the Chinese substances, each one being subject to specific combi-
nations of the Fundamental Processes as its nature demands.
Qi
The concept of Qi or energy indicates that it is something that is at the same time material and
immaterial. It lies between the atomic particle and the waveform. In man, it represents the source

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