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Your Five Vital Substances

You need these five substances to survive in your everyday life.

Your five vital substances of the body; Qi, Blood, Spirit, Essence and Body Fluids are essential for your body's everyday function and much more!

When you go to your Chinese Medicine Doctor, they may talk about qi, blood, body fluid, essence and spirit. This can be so much information and possibly a little hard to understand what they mean. I mean it’s not everyday that people talk about Qi (say it like Chi) like it’s a normal thing to talk about.

So I’m here to give you the run down of what these all mean so you can incorporate it in to your life or just so you can understand what us Chinese Doctors are talking about! (ha ha!)



The body according to Chinese Medicine is a collective of interrelated yin-yang systems that is made up of meridians, organs and the five vital substances – which is what I am going to explain to you today. It’s much like how your nervous systems, endocrine, muscular and other systems work but from a Chinese medicine perspective.

Qi, blood, body fluids, essence and spirit all have a vital role in warming, protecting, containing, transforming and moving functions within the mind-body.

Qi is the most fundamental substance that you will find Chinese Medicine doctors will talk about, why? It is generally translated in western terms to “life force” energy that flows through out our body, but it is much more than that. It is an energy that flows through out every part of our body, through our meridians, nervous systems and even through out our organs to keep us alive (it’s like the energy that is needed for every cellular function within our body). Without qi we would not be functioning. If Qi is obstructed it can result in deficiencies which can come out in fatigue, lowered immunity, digestive issues, breathing issues, stress, insomnia and even illness. It is a substance that flows within our blood which brings me to our next vital substance.

Xue (Blood) is the liquid “life force” that is a key component to nourishment of our muscles, bones, organs and everything in between. Blood circulates throughout the whole body much like Qi except that it is fluid in nature. Blood can be created and transformed from our food which is why our digestive system is essential for providing you with healthy nourishment. If your blood is stagnated or undersupplied then issues of anxiety, sleep issues, irritability, fatigue and much more can arise. Blood cannot survive with out Qi and vice versa. Blood and Qi are also essential to your menstrual flow and skin health! (probably one of the most important substances to ensure everything is maintained properly)

Your body fluids…..

What do you first think of when you think of body fluids? Probably not the best things that come to mind to be honest. But Chinese Medicine looks at body fluids as water like substances that nourishes the skin, muscles, brain, organs and spinal cord fluid. It comes from our food and drink, especially our water intake so it’s so important to make sure you are getting plentiful amounts of water. Our kidneys and lungs also help with our water dispersion and metabolism, so if their isn’t anything to move around the body then a lot of skin conditions can arise and toxin removal issues.

Our spirit (the shen) is stored in the heart and supplies our mind. It is part of our emotional wellbeing, consciousness and thought processes that is nourished by our blood. When there is lack of spirit, imbalances such as mental illnesses, anxiety, depression and insomnia can occur if not looked after properly. This is one of the biggest elements that is focused on, especially nowadays in modern society as we cannot create harmony within the body without a proper spirit. Your heart is the governor of all organs and your heart stores your spirit. Without spirit the rest of your body is lustless (your spirit gives you drive and motivation), kind of like you are turning off the tap that supplies water to your whole vegetable garden. Without the water everything will die. So creating mindfulness for yourself is so important to make sure your spirit stays strong. You can’t have your physical self without a functioning spirit. What can effect your spirit can be many different things but a lot of the time it is to do with emotional or physical trauma, inadequate diet or constant neglect to your true self. (embrace who you are, go with your flow and see where that takes you)

Your essence (jing) in chinese medicine is a substance that is responsible for your physical being and your innate soul of a person (It’s like your DNA sequence you get from your parents). It is located within the kidneys (which is why it’s so important to look after your kidneys) and it circulates through eight major pathways to help create semen, menstrual blood and bone marrow – essentially a big part of reproduction and ageing. It regulates your development and growth and works with the body to protect you from harmful substances as well as supporting your spirit. If you have taken lots of medications or even have been on the contraceptive pill long term this can damage your kidney health and make it difficult for you to conceive. So allow yourself some time to heal if you have taken these for long periods of time.

I hope you found this helpful in to understanding a little more about the 5 vital substances within our bodies to have great health. It can be complex but I try to explain in a more western way as it can be hard to understand it at first. So come back to this whenever you need to. When I talk about skin health, menstrual cycles and hormones; all of these substances are important to achieving optimal health within your body.

© Casey Dorman 2020