Wei Qi: Your Body’s Natural Strength and Immunity

This post is copied from our older, original blog. Original post date 08/30/2013. 

By Marcie Bower, Lic.Ac.

Though many of us don’t want to admit it, fall is just around the corner. You can feel it in the air early in the morning, before the last days of summer sun break through. While fall brings many wonderful things – crisp cool air, changing leaves, yummy root vegetables, and the routine that many miss during the summer, it also brings colds and flus and runny noses as the weather gets cooler.

Many people now that acupuncture can be a useful therapy to shorten duration of symptoms of a cold, especially when treatment is received at the early stages of the cold. But did you know that acupuncture can also prevent colds from occurring?

From an acupuncture perspective, your body is made up of lots of different kinds of Qi, or natural energy. These different types of Qi have specific physiological functions in the body. One essential type of Qi is the Wei Qi. Roughly translated as “immunity”, the Wei Qi is your body’s natural strength and ability to fight off pathogens like viruses and bacteria.

The Wei Qi, also called “protective Qi” flows in the space between the skin and muscles, and is the first line of defense against sickness (after your skin.) The Wei Qi also controls the opening and closing of the pores, so spontaneous sweating is a sign of a weakness in your protective Qi. (A lack of sweating can also indicate that the Wei Qi is in trouble – this is because if it is weak, external pathogens can block the pores and inhibit its function, thereby making us sick.

When the Wei Qi is not strong enough, we are not able to fight off outside pathogens, and we get sick.

So, how to you make sure your Wei Qi is healthy and strong?

  • Eat right. The food we eat is transformed into useful Qi by our digestive energy. This Qi – “Gu Qi” is further refined and part of it is turned into Wei Qi by our body’s natural resources. If you are not eating properly, your digestive energy won’t be able to pull the necessary components out of your food to make efficient and strong Wei Qi. This means limiting processed foods, eating warm and hearty meals, eating at regular times, getting enough protein, and eating a balanced diet.
  • Get outside. The air we breathe is also turned into Qi within our bodies, and the Wei Qi is actually controlled by the Lungs. Try to spend at least 10 minutes of every day outside, regardless of the weather. This could mean taking a walk in the sun, or standing on your porch and watching the rain. Just be sure to bundle up if it is cold out!
  • Get enough sleep. Your body replenishes many deeper levels of energy during sleep. If you are not getting enough sleep and some of the more internal energies of your body are weak, the Wei Qi has to work overtime to keep you healthy – and it won’t be able to do that for long. Also, the Wei Qi actually moves internally in the body during sleep, to nourish and protect your internal organs, and not getting enough sleep will not allow it sufficient time to do that, and not sufficient time to get back to the exterior of your body where it is needed during the day.
  • Get acupuncture! There are specific points on the body that nourish the Wei Qi to help prevent sickness. Acupuncture can also strengthen your digestive energy if it is not supporting the Wei Qi sufficiently.