Functions and Movements of Qi (Life Force)

Functions and Movements of Qi (Life Force)

Movement of Qi

The harmonious functions of the organs and various types of Qi rely partly on correct direction of Qi movement. Qi has to flow in the right direction: exiting-entering and ascending-descending.

Movement of Qi as Related to the Zang Fu (Internal Orgnas)


Control respiration: inhale clear air Qi & exhale impure Qi.
Control the descending of Qi: send Qi downward to Kidneys & Bladder.


Controls the smooth flow of Qi in all directions, esp. upward.
Lungs & Liver balance each other (Lung Qi flows downward, and Liver Qi upward)


Control transformation of Water.
Impure Fluids flow downward & clear Qi flows upward.
Lung Qi descends to Kidneys. Kidney Qi ascends to Lungs.
Lungs send Qi down. Kidneys receive Qi.
Lung controls exhalation. Kidney controls inhalation.


Spleen sends pure Qi upward to Lungs & Heart.
Stomach sends impure Qi downward for further refinement.
Spleen controls transformation, Stomach controls receiving.
Therefore ascending of clear Qi and descending of impure Qi depend on ascending of Spleen Qi and descending of Stomach Qi.

Heart and Kidneys

Fire of Heart flows downward to meet Water of Kidneys. Water of Kidneys rises to nourish Fire of Heart.

Derangement of any of the above directions of Qi flow can cause problems.


  • Stomach Qi rises instead of descending: nausea, vomiting, belching.
  • Spleen Qi descends instead of rising: diarrhea, prolapsed organs

The Functions of Qi

  1. Transforming
    Examples: Spleen Qi transforms food into Food Qi.
    Kidney Qi transforms Fluids.
    Bladder Qi transforms Urine.
    Heart Qi transforms Qi into Blood.
  2. Transporting
    Examples: Spleen Qi transports Food Qi.
    Lung Qi transports Fluids to the skin.
    Kidney Qi transports Qi upward.
    Liver Qi transports Qi in all directions and upward.
    Lung Qi transports Qi downward.
  3. Holding
    Examples: Spleen Qi holds the Blood in the Vessels.
    Kidney & Bladder Qi hold urine.
    Lung Qi holds sweat.
  4. Raising
    Spleen Qi raises the Organs (keeps them in place)
  5. Protecting
    Lung Qi (by virtue of circulating Wei Qi) protects the body from exogenous pathogens.
  6. Warming
    A function of Yang. Kidney Yang in particular and also Spleen Yang, warms the body.

References Used

The TCM information presented here has been referenced from numerous sources; including teachers, practitioners, class notes from Five Branches University, the following books, as well as other sources. If you have benefited from this information, please consider supporting the authors and their works by purchasing the books below.

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