Qi (pronounced chee) has been roughly translated into English simply as ‘energy'. However, the word/Chinese character for Qi can take on various meanings within different contexts, combining with other characters to represent a myriad of energies both within the body and beyond.
In the West, Qi is generally seen to represent literally everything in this known Universe, as in, everything in the Universe is seen to be comprised of Qi energy. This is a fair statement, the Taoists also shared this view on Qi, however, in the context of this article and our new QI blend, we will be placing our focus primarily on the Qi that lives within the body. The Qi that impacts our experience of life and health directly through the vessel of the body.
When looking through this lens, we see Qi as one of the three primary Treasures or “Original Substances”, along with Jing (Essence) and Shen (Spirit), those of which our human nature is comprised.
As the second Treasure, Qi is most simply summed up and perceived as our vitality. Our Qi energy is responsible for the animation of our physical body (Jing), it is the force that governs all bodily function and thought. Qi energy provides nourishment and protection to the body, cells and primary organs.
It is said that Qi is the child of our Jing Essence, and when our Qi becomes strong our Shen (Spirit) can shine bright. You can dive a little deeper into the relationship of The Three Treasures here.
At the physical level, Qi has three origins: the first being the "Original Qi" or yuan-qi that is prenatally inherited by a child from their parents at the time of conception. The yuan-qi contributes to an individual's constitution.
The second origin of Qi is "Grain Qi" or gu-qi which is procured through the process of digestion, gu-qi is derived from the food we eat.
Thirdly we have "Natural Air Qi" or kong-qi which is the Qi extracted by the Lungs from the air we inhale/breathe.
The above three sources of Qi combine to produce the "Qi" that animates an individual's entire being, permeating their complete cellular landscape, giving rise to the expression of their health and vitality as a whole.
When we digest well and consume a diet that is constitutionally appropriate and nourishing, the Spleen is able to harvest an abundance of gu-qiand send it to be combined with the kong-qiof the Lungs. This becomes our daily energy currency/Qi.
Once created, this Qi is sent to the body's exterior to provide surface immunity (Wei Qi - the Yang expression) and protection from pernicious elemental invasion from wind, heat, damp and cold. This Qi is also distributed through the meridians to nourish the inner Organs (the Yin expression).
If the Lung and Spleen systems are functioning well, the body can operate solely on this daily Qi currency, rather than drawing on its deeper Jing reserves. Running on Qi, not Jing, in our daily lives is a key factor in the longevity of our health and happiness.
*This is the herbal intention of the SuperFeast QI blend, to help one optimise their ability to extract daily Qi, so that they may experience life in a more vital way. To not only stop drawing on Jing, but to continue to cultivate Qi and Jing in the body so that a longer and healthier life is possible.
As we've explored above, Qi is the invisible yet palpable force that animates our body, mind, cells and organs; it is the ‘energy’ that drives the plethora of their functions.
The SuperFeast QI blend is a beautifully crafted formula comprised of the most revered Qi tonics of the Taoist tradition. These are the herbs that have been used historically to tonify our metabolic fire so we can access greater daily energy and gain higher levels of vitality.
Qi is derived from the air, the sunlight and the food we consume. The herbs in the QI blend are prized for their ability to amplify the conversion of these elements to deliver more Qi to the body system daily. Through the tonification of Spleen Qi and Lung Qi, in particular, these herbs work deeply on the body’s digestive and respiratory powers.
We cultivate Qi with the intention to increase the body’s capacity to build and move Blood, eliminate stagnation and regulate body temperature and Fluid level. To get the full download on the QI blend listen to our QI podcast here.
From the SuperFeast range, the QI blend is our energy tonic. Those who wish to support the creation of energy directly through the use of herbal medicine will benefit greatly from this formula.
It is important to note that these herbs are not stimulants, and their effect will not be experienced in the same instant and forceful manner as coffee or caffeine. It may take some time for you to cultivate vitality as the herbs assist your body to recalibrate and restore Spleen and Lung Qi.
Tonic herbalism places a strong focus on longevity and the QI blend is not intended to be a quick fix. The cultivation of Qi through both herbal and physical practices allows you to learn how to sustainably energise and revitalise your body from the inside out. To understand how it feels to be energised naturally, not from external sources such as caffeine or stress, but from the optimal function of your Organs and body as a whole.
The energy of the QI blend is powerful yet subtle at first. As mentioned above, it may take some time to enhance your body’s charge/Qi in order to notice the full vitality-enhancing effects of the blend.
If your cup has holes in it, e.g. you have a deficient lifestyle and are lacking sleep and proper nutrition, you will be leaking your Qi as soon as you fill your cup.
The Qi herbs will still assist to keep you moving and animated in these instances, however, if you wish to begin accumulating a reserve of Qi within your cells and Organs, it is imperative that you begin to embody a more sustainable lifestyle. One that allows you to really feel into the transformation that becomes available when you begin supporting the cultivation of your Qi on all levels.
Factors such as diet, lifestyle, herbal practice, breathwork and movement help to keep your Meridians open and allow Qi to flow smoothly through them. When this happens, health is a state that can become known. Using tonic herbs, such as those present in the QI blend, in combination with the practices mentioned above, increases the amount of Qi you are able to cultivate and sustain.
The herbs in the QI blend help to support the organs, primarily the Lungs and Spleen, that allow our bodies to adequately manufacture and disperse Qi. In the Taoist system, these are the herbs that have been used traditionally to increase the body's energy and vitality. These herbs include:
Primary and Direct Action:
Astragalus Root (Astragalus membranaceous)
Poria Mushroom (Poria cocos)
White Atractylodes Root (Atractylodes macrocephala)
Codonopsis Root (Codonopsis pilosula)
Gynostemma Leaf (Gynostemma pentaphyllum)
Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor)
Jujubue Fruit (Ziziphus jujuba)
If you wanna charge up your Qi and feel vital, head to our online store to pick up your batch of QI blend today!
Botanical Name: Astragalus membranaceus.
Plant Family: Fabaceae.
Chinese Name/s: Huang Qi, 黄芪.
Organ/s & Meridian/s: Lung and Spleen.
Treasure/s: Qi and Blood.
Part/s Used Medicinally: Root.
Key Herbal Actions:Raises Yang Qi, tonifies Spleen and Lung Qi, inhibits sweating, facilitates urination, generates flesh.
Botanical Name: Poria cocos.
Chinese Name/s:Fu Ling, 茯苓.
Organ/s & Meridian/s: Heart, Spleen, Bladder, Kidneys, Lungs (minor).
Taste/s: Sweet, bland.
Key Herbal Actions:Promotes urination, alleviates damp, strengthens the Spleen, tonifies the Middle Burner, calms Shen, transforms Phlegm.
Botanical Name: Codonopsis pilosula.
Plant Family: Campanulaceae.
Chinese Name/s: Dang Shen, 党参.
Organ/s & Meridian/s: Lung and Spleen.
Treasure/s:.Qi and Blood.
Part/s Used Medicinally: Root.
Key Herbal Actions:Tonifies The Middle Burner, reinforces Spleen and Lung Qi.
Botanical Name: Atractylodes macrocephala.
Plant Family: Compositae.
Chinese Name/s: Bai Zhu, 白术.
Organ/s & Meridian/s: Spleen, Stomach.
Treasure/s:.Qi.Taste/s: Bitter and Sweet.
Part/s Used Medicinally: Root.
Key Herbal Actions:Tonifies the Spleen, augments (increases) Qi, dries Damp, promotes water metabolism, reduces sweating.
Botanical Name: Trametes versicolor.
Plant Family: Polyporaceae.
Chinese Name/s: Yun Zhi, 云芝.
Organ/s & Meridian/s: Spleen, Lungs, Liver.
Treasure/s: Qi.Taste/s: Sweet and Bland.
Part/s Used Medicinally: Fruiting body.
Key Herbal Actions: Invigorates Spleen, eliminates Damp, arrests chronic cough/asthma, modulates immunity.
Botanical Name:Gynostemma pentaphyllum.
Plant Family: Cucurbitaceae.
Chinese Name/s: Jiao Gu Lan, 绞股蓝
Organ/s & Meridian/s:.Spleen, Lungs, Kidneys, Liver and Heart.
Energetics: Slightly cool.
Treasure/s:.Jing, Qi and Shen.
Taste/s: Sweet, Slightly Bitter.
Part/s Used Medicinally: Leaf.
Key Herbal Actions: Moistens the Lungs, tonifies Qi, generates Body Fluids, dispels Phlegm.
Botanical Name:Ziziphus jujuba.
Plant Family: Rhamnaceae.
Common name/s: Red date, Chinese date, jujube, Da Zao, Jujube Berry, Zizyphus, Black Date.
Organ/s & Meridian/s: Spleen, Stomach.
Treasure/s: Qi and Shen.
Part/s used medicinally: Fruit.
Herbal Properties: Sedative, nutritive, Qi tonic, Blood tonic, Shen stabiliser.
Key Herbal Actions: Tonifies the stomach and Spleen, augments Qi, moderates/harmonises the properties of other herbs, nourishes the Blood, calms the mind, moderates Shen (spirit), clears heat.
The QI blend is a protective formula that offers nourishment and tonification to the Lung and Spleen systems. The herbs in the QI blend help to build strong Wei Qi, the Yang protective Qi that circulates underneath the skin and in the subcutaneous tissue.
Wei Qi is our surface immunity. This provides subtleness to the flesh and adaptive energy to the skin. It is Wei Qi that provides energy for the body’s defense mechanisms of perspiration, shivering and goosebumps. When Wei Qi is deficient, environmental forces such as heat, wind, cold and damp can penetrate the flesh and invade the vital organs. With the most revered Lung and Wei Qi herbs, the QI formula is the perfect ally to help the body maintain its protective Aura.
In its own right, the QI blend is an incredible immune tonic, specifically focused on supporting surface immunity or Wei Qi as we’ve explored above. When combined with our Mason’s Mushroom blend (Mason's offers deep overall immune support) the two products offer the body ultimate protection and powerful immune potentiation.
Many people in the West experience Spleen deficiencies or Damp Spleen due to constitutional weakness, poor/inappropriate diet and lifestyle stress. Weak digestion, loose stools and Fluid retention are all signs of Spleen deficiency.
In the QI blend, White Atractylodes and Poria play a primary role, working to nourish the Spleen, increase the digestive fire and drain excess Fluid/Damp. The addition of Codonopsis in the blend allows the White Atractylodes and Poria to perform these actions without over-drying the Spleen.
When it comes to beauty, cultivating healthy radiant skin is generally a primary intention. The organ systems that primarily govern the health of the skin are the Lungs and the Liver.
Cosmetically the Lungs have a direct influence on the health of the skin via respiration and the dispersion of Qi throughout the body. The Lungs oxygenate every cell within the body, allowing the entire system to function at optimal capacity. Clear, radiant and supple skin is not only a sign of healthy Lung function but also illustrates that the entire system, including the immune defenses, are robust and strong. The QI blend is a potent Lung tonic that will assist the health of the skin via the tonification of these important Organs.
Often in the West the skin issues presented are not derived directly from a Lung deficiency. More so from impaired Liver function, resulting in Liver stagnation, endocrine dysregulation and hormonal imbalance. This is where the Beauty Blendreally shines as our primary beauty tonic as it acts directly on the Liver. Working to move stagnant Qi, enliven the Liver’s detoxification pathways and support the cultivation of Yin Jing essence and sexual fluids. Foundational factors that allow beauty to shine through the skin, eyes and beyond.
The Liver is responsible for dispersing a consistent smooth flow of Qi throughout the body’s organs and meridians. Therefore Liver harmony is strongly associated with the experience of overall body harmony, and harmony creates radiance from the inside out. This radiance is what we speak of when we refer to “beauty”.
As a formula, the QI blend works to deliver the potential for this radiance/beauty as it encourages Qi to circulate freely throughout the entire system. Qi is life and will animate any space it occupies or penetrates, allowing that space to shine and flourish. In this context, the QI blend is a wonderful beauty elixir and pairs well with the Beauty Blend to encourage full-body radiance from the inside out.
Qi generates Blood and Fluid within the body. When our Qi is optimal our Blood and Fluid will flourish. This means that Qi herbs can indirectly contribute to the normal supply of Blood and Fluid within the body, and are in fact essential elements for this to occur.
Qi governs Blood, and Blood will follow Qi, to remedy circulatory issues, or simply maintain a well-nourished body and cellular system. We must maintain a robust flow of Qi, one that will inspire the Blood to saturate its entire cellular landscape. When Qi is able to expand its reach within the physical and energetic bodies, there is a greater potential for tissue healing, protection and regeneration.
Many of the Qi tonics are known for their ability to promote wound healing and regenerate flesh (especially Astragalus). This is primarily due to the herbs' ability to increase the circulation and flow of Qi throughout the body. This action naturally enhances the flow of nutrient-rich Blood to the deficient or wounded site. Blood follows Qi, remember?
Delivering Qi to deficient or wounded tissues is literally like delivering life to them. Where there’s more life, there’s more flow. Therefore there can be more Blood, more nutrition for regeneration and more Fluid to enable cellular communication within the immune system as a whole.
You will often see Qi tonics (which include most medicinal mushrooms) taking permanent residence in the diet of Taoists and those who understand the herbs on a deep level. The Taoists knew that humans were the bridge between heaven and earth, and that walking the middle path between the Yang of the Heavens and the Yin of the Earth was an important function of their human nature. The Taoists knew that having a strong herbal practice was necessary for cultivating longevity and a happy, progressive life.
The tonic herbs were viewed as messengers from Heaven, and as gifts from the Earth that allowed them to maintain this balance. The Qi tonics were the herbs that resonated with this intention the most, and allowed the body to become the place where the sky/Heavens (Tian) and the Earth (Di) came into harmony.
Tian-Ren-Di translates to mean Sky-Human-Earth, this represents the concept of humans being the bridge between heaven and earth. There are the 3 primary Treasures within the Tian-Ren-Di, with each entity having its own 3 Treasures:
Sky- Sun, Moon, Stars.
Human- Jing, Qi, Shen.
Earth - Water, Wind, Fire.
Humans are most closely related to Qi, the middle Treasure (as above). This is why Qi herbs and lifestyle practices that cultivate Qi, ultimately became the foundations used to maintain balance between the Heavens (Shen, our spirit) and Earth (Jing, Essence). We use long term herbal and Qi practices to ensure we ourselves can remain in harmony and walk the middle path with efficacy and grace.
When people are starting out with tonic herbalism or are going through periods of very high stress, they’re often feeling exhausted, burnt out or have a low libido, which are all signs of Jing deficiency. So in these instances we place our primary focus on the herbs that nourish Jing directly, and a lifestyle that promotes restoration and eliminates stress and excess.
When one's Jing is deficient we can and still do take Qi herbs, however, the Qi herbs take on more of a supporting role.
It is common to feel extremely energised by the Jing herbs as they replenish what is deficient, however, after a couple of months or years (yes it can take this long) the direct uplifting feeling may cease. This is a sign that Jing has been restored and is no longer being leaked from the body via diet and lifestyle. This is when the Qi herbs become the primary focus and the Jing herbs step back into a supporting role, to maintain and cultivate more essence.
When you have strong physical foundations in your body (Jing), you will feel the full nature of QI brighten you up, enliven you, and bring further vitality to your entire being. Throughout each and every day we require this fuel to animate us, help us think clearly, process emotions, bring vitality and clarity to our human function and keep us feeling light and energised.
The experience of cultivating and optimising your daily Qi can be subtle for some (definitely not for those who are more sensitive), however it is a process that does not have a glass ceiling.
When we start to get very good at cultivating Qi through our food, breathwork, sun exposure and lifestyle, we begin the process of putting savings (Jing) back in the bank (Kidneys) of our health. Once we are living sustainably and have an abundance of Qi circulating throughout our bodies, we can start saving the excess.
To read more about our favourite herb pairing's take a look at our blog on the subject here.
The majority of our herbs are safe to use while breastfeeding, this includes the medicinal mushrooms, tonic herbs and our JING, QI and I Am Gaia blends. We always suggest to introduce new herbs slowly and in low doses, this allows the body to adjust and benefits to unfold at a pace relevant to your individual system.
If you are pregnant check out this blog postby SuperFeast mumma Tahnee, here she'll give you the full download on the herbs we like to use during this special time.
Like the rest of the SuperFeast herbal apothecary, the herbs in our QI blend are fully extracted and not sensitive to heat or cold. This means you can add the QI blend to any food or beverage of choice.
Qi tonics tend to carry a sweet flavour, for this reason we love taking QI blend straight off the spoon! To make a simple tea add 1/4-1tsp (depending on your constitution) of QI blend to boiled water, sip and enjoy the beautiful benefits. If you want to get a little more creative, try the recipe below:
In the context of health optimisation and the Taoist tradition, tonic herbs are not directly used to treat or clear individual symptoms, rather to create harmony within the system as a whole. To further utilise the medicinal magic of the herbs in the QI blend, pair its use with the actions below:
The QI blend can be of great assistance if you experience any of the following:
The Web That Has No Weaver - Ted J Kaptchuk
There you have it folks, the QI blend - our wonderful new SuperFeast friend, stoking the fire in our bellies, bringing animation and vibrancy to our cells and organs, potentiating our surface immunity and helping our skin radiate and shine <3 I don't know about you- but I'm off to have a big ol' cuppa QI right now! Yum!
The reason that Qi herbs are such a staple; I think it has a lot to do with this idea that's been entrenched in Chinese philosophy, in Taoist philosophy: humans being this bridge between Heaven, Sky, and Earth.