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Qi and Blood stagnation in TCM

Qi and Blood Stagnation in Traditional Chinese Medicine

acupuncture anxiety headaches stress tcm women's health

"Qi Stagnation"

Qi stagnation in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) usually correlates with emotional stress.  In TCM, we say that stress affects your Liver.  Your Liver regulates the flow of Qi and Blood.  When your Qi isn't moving smoothly, you feel anxious, tired, tense, irritable, and PMS-y. 

You probably don't sleep as well when your Qi isn't flowing.  Also, you may start to notice it impacts your digestion.  

Emotional Stagnation

If you’re fixated on one particular emotion, something you can't let go of, the emotions don't go through their normal ups and downs.  Ideally, we feel a range of emotions daily.  And, ideally, our home base is in a state of joy.  

The state of "letting go" of anger, disappointments, or worries isn't about forgetting them or pretending they're not there.  It's allowing yourself to feel them deeply enough to let them pass through you.  Similar to how the wind passes through the leaves on a tree.  

Allow yourself to feel that emotion until ... you don't.  A new state will eventually take its place if you allow it.  


A tree wouldn't try to not blow in the breeze.  "No, I'm too mad about (X) to do that!"  

Medications and alcohol can lead to stagnation due to their affect on your Liver. 

Poor nutrition is another potential cause of stagnation because to have proper Qi flow, you need well-nourished organs and cells. 

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Symptoms of Qi Stagnation include depression, anxiety, mood swings, irregular periods, painful periods, PMS, insomnia, headaches, pains that move around in your body, and fatigue.    

To undo Qi stagnation, eat nourishing, nutrient-dense foods.

Vegans and vegetarians may need more blood-building foods (like dark, leafy greens, eggs, or bone broth).  Herbs such as Dong Gui, Schisandra, Rehmannia, and Peony help to nourish blood.  A natural blood-building vitamin is Ferrofood by Standard Process.  Also, there’s Floradix, which is a vegetarian/vegan option. 

Tension-relieving herbs like Bupleurum or Chamomile are simple to use. Trace minerals like those found in Alfalfa or Seaweed are helpful for relaxation.  Black current seed oil may help with PMS.  

Exercise daily, even if it’s just walking or stretching.

Make sleep a priority.

Counseling may be a good idea. 

Acupuncture has been used for centuries for its stress-relieving and Qi-invigorating properties.  

"Blood Stagnation"

Blood stagnation is similar to Qi Stagnation.  It often starts with Qi Stagnation and gets worse over time. Underlying causes could be long-term repressed emotions, injuries, repetitive movements, or a sedentary lifestyle.

No doubt, you have pain, either physical or emotional.  The saying goes, "If you have pain, you have blood stagnation, and if you have blood stagnation, you have pain."  


Step one: improve circulation.

Cold –> contraction –> pain. No matter what your physician tells you about icing your pain area: don’t do it. Use heat. The cold may help temporarily, but in the long-run will make it worse and make it harder to heal. The heat will improve circulation which can help you heal permanently.

Moxa can also help. "Moxabustion" (or "moxa") uses the herb mugwort to create a therapeutic heat treatment.  It dispels Cold energy which blocks your Qi. See an acupuncturist for more help on doing this treatment.  

Herbs that are helpful include: dong gui, bupleurum, cinnamon, turmeric, and boswellia (frankincense). As always, talk with a licensed herbalist before using.

Exercise is helpful as well, even if it’s just gentle stretching. Foam-rolling is good to learn too.  Acupuncture is very helpful for improving pain conditions and blood flow.

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