Do You Have a Qi Deficiency Body Constitution? 

Qi deficiency TCM

 March 23, 2021

By  Juli Kramer, PhD

If you have a qi deficiency body constitution, you might frequently feel fatigued, bloated, and unable to concentrate. It is important for you to make dietary and lifestyle choices that can build more qi, or you can be as risk for serious illness and disease. If you do, you can feel healthy and happy for many years to come.


A qi deficiency constitution has deficiency of qi and/or blood. Qi deficiency can result from weak prenatal qi. A weak and dysfunctional spleen can worsen symptoms associated with qi deficiency as well. Overwork, intensive physical labor (for example as with professional athletes), long-term dieting, and bottled-up emotions and depression can all worsen qi deficiency. Many students who study long hours suffer from lifestyle induced qi deficiency.


Qi is the vital life force or energy that flows through channels in the body. With adequate qi, people can live a long and healthy life. In general qi deficiency can be caused by a weakness in any one of the three areas in which you acquire qi: 1) air, 2) food & water, and 3) inherited jing (prenatal qi essence).


What causes a qi deficiency constitution?

Firstly, you can thank your parents. A qi deficiency body constitution most often results from weakness in Inherited Jing (congenital or inborn qi). When you have weak prenatal qi, you need to make sure to fill the gap with acquired sources of qi in order to have a strong defense system and abundant health.


Much like the concept of genetics in western medicine, according to TCM, at conception your parents set your foundational energetic nature. Wang Chong, a Chinese medicine practitioner in the 1st century CE writes that:


Strength and long life, weakness and short life are connected with the copiousness and scarcity of the receive qi…When the qi is copious, the body becomes strong, and the body being strong, life lasts long. On the other hand, when the vital force is scanty, the body is weak, and with a weak body, life is short…A short life is accompanied by much sickness.


You will read later that your health destiny is not sealed in stone. Although you might have been born with a weakened constitution, lifestyle choices can further weaken or, more importantly, strengthen your life force.


You can feel better

Here is the good news. If you currently have a qi deficiency body constitution, you have the power be healthier. You might have a predisposition to this body constitution, but lifestyle choices continue to weaken qi in your body. Changing your dietary, exercise, and emotional habits can radically shift you from qi deficiency to neutral, the ideal, yin and yang balanced, healthy state.


Here are some general patterns associated with a qi deficiency body constitution. You may have overcome some of these tendencies with lifestyle choices you make. Well done! Read on to learn how to improve your health further.


Common physical symptoms of qi deficiency constitution

  • Fatigue, especially after a meal
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling of being overly full, bloating, soft stool
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Cravings for sweets, or just a preference for sweet food
  • Low voice
  • Shortness of breath
  • Poor appetite
  • Sweat easily
  • Tongue is large and pal with teeth marks
  • Weak pulse (as measured in Chinese medicine)

Common physical characteristics

  • Without training, muscles feel soft and don’t have strength

Common emotional characteristics

People with qi deficiency constitution often

  • Are introverted
  • Like being quiet
  • Do not like to talk too much
  • Have a timid personality

Greatest health risks for qi deficiency constitution

  • Catches colds easily and is frequently sick
  • Tends to have prolapsed internal organs
  • Slow to recover from illness with a long rehabilitation period
  • Low blood pressure
  • Puffiness
  • Constipation
  • Excess sweating
  • Skin pigmentation
  • Intolerant to external pathogens like wind, cold, summer heat, and dampness

How to off-set your qi deficiency constitution through diet

People with qi deficiency should eat neutral, slightly sweet, and warm foods that can replenish qi and strengthen spleen functioning. Eating on a fixed schedule to strengthen digestion in order to create more qi is essential. Following the Chinese medicine body clock, you should eat a large breakfast between 7:00-9:00 AM, an even larger lunch between 11:00 AM-1:00 PM, and a light dinner between 5:00-7:00 PM.


Additionally, if you have a qi deficiency constitution, you should not snack between meals. Snacking puts a strain on your digestive system and weakens your qi even further. 


Another great dietary tool is to eat foods warm and bitter in nature. Some examples include jujubes, or Chinese dates and lily bulb. You definitely should eat only cooked foods, because eating raw foods further weakens you energy. Imagine Super Man around kryptonite. Cold food, as well as fatty and sweet foods also cause major issues for people with qi deficiency.


Two final tips about dietary changes you should make. First of all, limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol depletes qi. Secondly, avoid over-eating and over-drinking


Therefore, adjust how you eat by making sure you only eat to 70% full.


Foods to add

People with a qi deficiency constitution should add foods that tonify and strengthen qi. These foods are great choices.

barley
bean curd (tofu)
beef
carrots
chicken
Chinese yam
fish - black carp
fish - silver carp
goose
jujubes
lily bulb
millet

mushrooms - poria
mushrooms - shiitake (xianggu)
polished non-glutinous rice
potatoes
quail
rice
steel cut oats
Jujubes Chinese dates heal the lungs and help body constitution

Jujubes, also called Chinese dates

Foods and beverages to avoid

If you have a qi deficiency constitution, you want to avoid items that deplete your qi, such as the following items:

alcohol
basil
bergamut root
betel nuts
buckwheat
raw carrots
coriander (cilantro)
garlic
grapefruit
green tea
hawthorn berries
kumquats
mint
mustard
oranges
pepper

radishes
raw fruits and vegetables
scallions
tangerines
tobacco
turnips
water chestnuts
white chrysanthemum

Peole with qi deficiency should not drink green tea

People with qi deficiency should not drink green tea.

How to strengthen your qi with lifestyle changes

Relax your mind

Furthermore, extreme emotions like anger, grief, anxiety, and fear can weaken and harm your Yuan qi. Yuan qi provides the foundation for your immune system. Strong emotions increase the likelihood of physical illness.


Ideally, work to live harmoniously with people around you. Secondly, if you feel negative emotions, express them as soon as you feel them. Learning the lessons you need to learn from negative emotions is beneficial, but then let go. Finally, the goal is to then return to a balanced emotional state to strengthen your qi and health. Put yourself into positions where you can love others and be loved in return. 


Most importantly, love yourself. Even if that feels hard sometimes, celebrate the little miracles of your body. The fact that your body knows how to breathe, how to circulate blood, etc. Notice the miracle of your uniqueness. Whether you feel good or bad about the person you are, the fact that no one else thinks, feels, and experiences the world as you do is a miracle.


Guided meditation to balance your emotions

Qi deficiency puts you at risk for emotional imbalance, and even more serious emotional disturbance. Clearing blockages in your body will also allow you to release negative emotions you might be holding onto. Once the blockages clear away, you can build emotional armor to keep you healthy with a calm mind. This guided meditation will help you start your emotional healing.

How to exercise for your qi deficiency constitution

Taking regular walk outdoors will strengthen your qi. Breathe deeply as you walk. Air qi will flow into your lungs and add to the qi you acquire from food. When you walk, make sure to wear layers to keep warm. It is especially important to keep your neck warm. 


Also, you should avoid physically strenuous exercise. Rapid breathing or holding your breath during any type of exercise will further harm your qi as well.

Additionally, avoid mental and sexual strain, in order to replenish your qi. Your ultimate goal is to come back into yin and yang harmonious balance.


Quick qigong exercises

Moving consistently throughout your day is a better way to breathe in fresh air and calm your mind than doing a one-hour workout. Enjoy this sample of a quick, qigong exercise to pump your qi. 

Acupressure massage to strengthen your digestion

A strong digestive system will help your body produce essential qi. This abdominal massage is perfect to do after each meal to strengthen your digestive energy.

Body Constitution Assessment

Don't know your body constitution? Take the assessment to learn how you can achieve optimal health.

Juli Kramer, PhD


Dr. Juli Kramer earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, with a cognate in Counseling Psychology and her M.A. in Psychology. She has a diploma in Chinese Medicine Nutritional Therapy, and certificates in Chinese medicine from Dr. Zhang Yifang, Shanghai World Hospital, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. With over 30 years of experience as an educator, Dr. Kramer founded Radiant Shenti to teach people how Chinese medicine (TCM) can help them lead healthy, happy, and long lives.

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