What is Qi?

Qi is the vital energy, the essential life force of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the balance and uninterrupted flow of which are necessary for good health and happiness.

This page looks at how electromagnetic information and energy are transmitted around the body and compares this to existing descriptions of Qi.

Hypothesis: Qi is an organised circulation of electromagnetic and electro-acoustic energy which is expressed and transmitted in a multitude of forms, moving seamlessly from one physical medium and transmission mode to another without undue loss of energy or informational content.

The transmission methods range from colloid vibration currents to direct current electricity and it is very likely that energy and information are exchanged with the all-pervasive Zero Point Energy field of Quantum Mechanics.

The flow as a whole forms a global toroidal recycling system centred on the Chakras.

Starting with the heart, mechanical contraction triggers the formation of electric currents shown in green and an alternating electro-magnetic field which in turn causes the red-blood cells to vibrate at kHz frequencies. For more details see here.
This vibration causes a colloid vibration current in the blood cells which propagates along the arteries.

This current supplies both energy and information into practically every cell in the body. Cells operate, repair and reproduce according to a series of vibrations organised as a musical harmonic series with the cellular water itself acting to transduce incoming energy to the required frequencies – see Quantum Coherent Domains.

The structured latticework of intra-cellular water molecules furthermore acts as a 3-D ‘antenna’ for receiving energy via resonance with random quantum fluctuations. These come from the ‘zero-point field’ which is said to permeate the whole of space and sustain all living things. [More]

This energy field provides the ‘vital energy’ that has been postulated for centuries. Biologists prior to the discovery of quantum mechanics have claimed that something like this must exist for biology to function, and present day quantum physicists hypothesise that it is furthermore the ‘substrate for consciousness’ and contains a ‘code template’ for the physical organisation of life (morphogenesis).

Robert Becker found many electric currents flowing in the skin but couldn’t find where they were coming from. He could also have asked where they were going to, what is powering them and even more fundamentally: “How is the circuit completed?” since electricity must flow in a complete circuit.

Even the domestic electricity supply doesn’t flow from the station to home and then just stop or get ‘used up’ but instead flows in a complete circle back along the ‘neutral’ wire.

Becker noticed that some parts of the skin were more conductive than others and formed natural conduits for the current. If a current was blocked it would simply re-route around the blockage and continue to flow. An analogy would be streams of water flowing down a hillside towards the sea; the flow is locally self-organising and globally directional as guided by global gravitational forces and the local geometry of the landscape.

A toroidal arrangement as shown is the only sustainable way for multiple circuits to exist in a three dimensional form without crossing over or creating a ‘singularity’ in the centre.
So current flows from the heart to the tissues and makes its way back to the heart to complete the circuit.

The overall flow then is probably a toroidal complex with multiple holes at the heart, brain and solar plexus at least. We know that both the heart and brain emit powerful toroidal fields and it is possible that these fields help direct the global flow of energy back from the peripheries to the chakras with local flow determined by the tissue type and geometry.

Electro-acoustics: In addition to actual electric currents there is the possibility of a continuous flow of self-organising electro-acoustic waves through the tissues towards the heart. These are non-radiative fields, making them very difficult to measure and going some way to explaining why they have not been described for so long. It may well be that they convey some sort of information to the heart and brain, it may be that they are simply electromagnetic waste, or it may be that they help to maintain physical processes within the cellular matrix.

In addition to this general flow, we have specialised conduits to direct the flow of energy for example nerves, the water adsorbed to collagen and the peri-arterial membrane.
Capillaries and extra-cellular spaces also form natural conduits (Beraia).

The Bong-Han ducts of the primo-vascular system have been found to conduct both electricity and visible light and their location within the body is coincident with the acupuncture meridians.

The ducts surround all major organs and blockage of the energy flow leads to dysfunction and ultimate tissue necrosis.

Research into acupuncture suggests that neuro-fascial and connective tissue together form a comprehensive conductive network suitable for coherent signalling with the acupuncture points lying at the network nodes.

This implies an uninterrupted energy flow across the boundaries between different tissue types so that the information content is independent of the carrier medium.

The Heart Math Institute has demonstrated that if two or more individuals are in close physical proximity for some time then their hearts and brains will tend to synchronise and that in this way a shared energy field is formed and beneficial health effects in the form of Heart Rate Variability (HRV) can be transmitted from one person to another.

Breathing exercises in combination with feedback from a cardiogram enabled subjects to consciously attain a state of strong HRV which is associated with improved academic and athletic performance, harmonious personal relationships and excellent long term health outcomes. Heart Math

John Zimmerman 
recorded a rather strong electric field from the fingertips of healers that cycled through a series of specific frequencies.

So where does all this Qi come from?

Qi is vibratory as well as energetic and is better viewed as informational flux rather than mere ‘combustion’. There is, however, insufficient information in DNA to create a whole cell and nowhere near enough information in a single fertilised cell for the formation of a complete embryo.

The complexity and informational content of an organism continues to increase into adulthood and since scientists believe that information in the universe is conserved, there must be a net transfer of such information from the external environment into the biological structures we call ‘life’.

Candidates for the source of this information include:

  • The original cells (spermatozoa and ovum) from the parents
  • Some kind of morphogenetic field from the mother
  • Quantum fluctuations of the Zero Point field
  • Geophysical vibrations such as sunlight, Schuman vibrations, seasonal geo-magnetic fluctuations etc.
  • Sensory input: from the environment but modified by the cognitive system
  • Informational content in the diet from minerals, vitamins and possibly structured water

But does all this constitute Qi? Consider the following attributes of Qi from the paper by Zhang et al and see if they have not been adequately described above.

  • Qi has functions of promoting substance metabolism and energy conversion, stimulating activity of organs, keeping blood circulating in vasculature, promoting human growth and development, maintaining normal temperature of human body, strengthening the ability of anti-infection, maintaining normal development of the foetus in the uterus” – Zhang et al
  • In TCM theories, blood and Qi also have close relationship, i.e. Qi can promote the formation and circulation of blood. Meanwhile blood can nourish Qi.” – Zhang et al

Wikipedia – “Qi is a pseudo-scientific concept and is unrelated to the concept of energy used in science

A 1997 consensus statement on acupuncture by the United States National Institutes of Health noted that concepts such as qi “are difficult to reconcile with contemporary biomedical information

So Wikipedia is quite adamant then that Qi and modern science are irreconcilable but the quotations below have all been explained above in terms of existing knowledge without the need to introduce any extra assumptions or invent any new scientific principle.

  • In traditional Chinese medicine, symptoms of various illnesses are believed to be either the product of disrupted, blocked, and unbalanced qi movement through meridians or deficiencies and imbalances of qi in the Zang Fu organs.”
  • “There is a difference between so-called ‘Primordial Qi’ (acquired at birth from one’s parents) and Qi acquired throughout one’s life.”
  • “A qi field (chu-chong) refers to the cultivation of an energy field by a group, typically for healing or other benevolent purposes. A qi field is believed to be produced by visualization and affirmation.
  • “Reiki practitioners use a technique called palm healing or hands-on healing through which a ‘universal energy’ is said to be transferred through the palms of the practitioner to the patient in order to encourage emotional or physical healing.”
  • Qìgōng involves coordinated breathing, movement, and awareness. It is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance qi.


Descriptions of electrical energy flow from existing and readily available peer reviewed sources seem to correspond precisely with what are generally assumed to be traditional folk beliefs.

Related pages:


Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroacoustic_phenomena

To Unveil the Molecular Mechanisms of Qi and Blood through Systems Biology-Based Investigation into Si-Jun-Zi-Tang and Si-Wu-Tang formulae. Sci Rep 6, 34328 (2016) Sun, J., Zhang, L., He, Y. et al. 

Electromagnetic properties of the arterial blood flow – M Beraia, G Beraia

Energy/information dissipation and blood flow in human body
 – M Beraia, G Beraia

National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement
November 3-5, 1997

The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life
Authors: Robert O Becker, Gary Selden
ISBN: 0688069711

Toroidal topology of population activity in grid cells -Gardner, Hermansen et al
The physical location of a rat is tracked by a toroidal path in the brain

Your brain is moving along the surface of the torus – Artem Kirsanov

Acupuncture Research: Strategies for Establishing an Evidence Base
Authors: – MacPherson, Hammerschlag, Lewith, Schnyer.

Water Dynamics at the Root of Metamorphosis in Living Organisms
Authors: Emilio Del Giudice, Paola Rosa Spinetti, AlbertoTedeschi

Zimmerman, J. (1990). Laying-on-of-hands healing and therapeutic touch: a testable theory.
BEMI Currents, Journal of the BioElectroMagnetics Institute, 2, 8-17.

Energy Medicine – James Oschman -Page 249 for the reiki chart

Biological information systems: Evolution as cognition-based information management – William B Miller Jr