Wei Qi, Our Immune System – By Cody Dodo

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At the last few weeks I had few patients that complained about getting sick all the time. Frequent colds, viruses and other external pathogenic factors are a common complaint. Our society has many agreements we share about how and why one gets sick. Mostly we blame it on the weather.  But the weather is the way it is, and not everyone gets sick from the weather. The same goes for “being on a plane”. Many people fly, and many people are together on the same plane, breathing the same “air” how come not everyone gets sick? These agreements we share about why people get sick fall apart once you dig slightly deeper. And at the end, we come back to one’s particular immune system. 

What do we know about the immune system? From Chinese medical point of view, Wei qi requires a few resources. These resources produce it, mobilize it and ensure its activation. Looking at these resources and connecting to their deep spiritual meaning can grant much insight into which component was deficient and lead to failure of Wei Qi to protect. Let’s analyze Wei qi. 

Here’s what we know about Wei qi. 

  1. It is produced by the stomach from food and drink (Su Wen Ch. 43). Yin or nourishment is an essential component here. What we choose to eat is not just a health fad. It is, quite literally, the building blocks of our defense system. 
  2. It is energetically governed by the Lungs and the Liver. Quite wisely these two are assigned the ministerial positions of the Prime minister and the General.  If anyone manages wars – it’s these two officials. In order to function properly the Lung need to diffuse Qi properly, and the Liver needs to be relaxed. 
  3. Wei Qi also requires KI Yang. Yang, the warming energy of Ming Men is the basis for Wei Qi. 

Beyond the physical sense of the immune system—oxygen, histamines and white blood cells—Chinese medicine holds a philosophical undertone to all these requirements. Each components of of wei qi has its own meaning in CM and together they paint a state of being that is free from disease. Let us start with the Lungs. 

The lungs diffuse Wei Qi and govern the its quality. Energetically, the lungs accept and let go what is so at any given moment. It takes in the world without judgment. You may wonder “what kind of a guard is this? Letting anything in??” Yet, that is its function. To accept without question, to surrender. As part of a healthy breathing process the lungs communicates with the Kidneys. This symbolizes trust. 

Kidneys store and represents our curriculum in this lifetime. The medicine that we practice is not separated from the Daoist philosophical backbone that created it. Fear is linked to the Kidneys, that is true, but the flip side of fear is trust. When you have one – you don’t have the other. When we walk in the world inhaling every experience and connecting it to our essence, we have two choices – to fear it, or to trust it. Trust it, and you are grasping each present moment as it is. Fear it – and you are implying lack of trust in the experience, which immediately roots you in the past or the future. When you don’t trust, your Lungs fail to accept the moment and might not diffuse Qi. 

Both Kidney Yang and Lungs Qi are rooted in the interior of the body. This means that Wei Qi—which is the energy that takes us out to the world—comes from inside us. It requires the Will of the Kidneys to fulfill its curriculum in this world as well as inspiration to do so. We can be in this world and not accept our “calling” (not be inspired to go out to the world and do it), but that would cost us in pathogenic invasions. 

The Liver’s ministerial role in defense earned it the title of the General. A good defense is rooted in a “relaxed” liver. Being tight or wiry, or in other words, having a sense of deficiency of any kind takes away from that quality.  From the Five Element generation sequence we know that when we are fearful, the element of water generates anger or an attack. When we are in a state of trust, the element of water leads to creativity and leadership. In a sense, just like the Lungs accepting everything is somewhat the reverse of what we think immunity should be like, so is a general that does not fight. 

The third component is stomach Yin. Yin is nourishment. In a narrow sense it is the food we eat every day. It is the gas we have to put in the tank in order for the car to keep going. Of course, if you love your car you would get the premium gas rather than going into Econo-Gas. Point is, you would make wise decisions about what you put in your car if you want it to last and run smoothly. The choices we make about what to put in our body are a reflection of how much we love ourselves. If we constantly make poor dietary choices, it will compromise the quality of wei qi, for sure but it will also affect the overall Yin of the body. Yin deficiency is a symptom of lack of self-love. 

Walking in the world with inspiration to do what you are meant to do in this life time, accepting everything, every event, interaction and challenge that comes your way in a surrendering and creative manner, with the ability to diffuse it and grow from it, comes from deep sense of self love. In a way it’s accepting that inherently nothing is wrong here. 

Maybe that is the reason babies come to this world without Wei Qi. They are perfect, fully accepting and not tinted or afraid of this life. 

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