This is one of the biggest questions that people ask any acupuncturist or herbalist or martial arts guy about that is even remotely Chinese. I usually get the question when people want to make it look like I don't know what I'm talking about. So, in Chinese Medicine and acupuncture at the very least "Qi" is usually translated as "energy". However, it can also be translated as "breath", "life", or even "existence". With energy being the translation, the physicist in me has always cringed a bit when ever I have heard that. Energy is actually defined as the ability to do work meaning move. Which when you look at the deeper aspects of "Qi" it actually makes more sense.
The Aspects of Qi
According the the many text books I had to read for my master's degree, this mysterious thing called "Qi" has a lot of aspects to it. Qi is warmth. Qi is movement. Qi is power and strength. Qi is bright. And most importantly, Qi has no physical form. Qi itself is actually a component of Yang like Yin and Yang. Feel free to look this up.
So just Qi itself for my Western mind is more or less the interaction between organs, tissues, and the creation of ATP in the cell. Yes, I did take Bio-chem. As far as what ATP is, my advice to us try Google.
Blood in Chinese Medicine
You would think that this is rather straight forward. Blood is the red liquid that gets pumped around your body by your heart in a closed circuit. And it is in Chinese medicine too. However, there is just a bit more to it than that. In Chinese medical theory Blood is basically proto-flesh or the meat that is you. It is created by the Spleen from the pattern or essence presented by the Kidney and is made red by the Fire in the Heart. In addition the Heart moves the Blood but it is the Spleen that makes sure it moves the right way. The Spleen is able to accomplish this with the Qi that it also produces.
Qi and Blood are like best friends holding hands
In the text it says that Qi contains and moves the Blood while the Blood houses the Qi. And that makes a whole lot of sense doesn't it? The way that I think about this is your best friend from childhood. You told each other everything. You shared food and illnesses. You played at each other's houses and went on bike rides. You get the picture. Basically Qi and Blood have this inseparable relationship. They need each other. Think about how heartbroken you were when your friend moved away, or maybe you moved away. Neither Qi nor Blood can survive without the other.
If there is not enough Blood to house the Qi then the Qi leaves and you die. I would call that bleeding out. If there is not enough Qi to move the Blood then nothing gets to where it needs to be and you die. I call that starvation.
So how do we get Qi and Blood? Food. You have to eat and drink stuff. Some is better than others. You can also get both Qi and Blood from a section of herbs called tonics, they tonify which means to build or create. I actually advise against just taking herbs without a prescription or dosage guidance from a licensed practitioner such as myself. If you just go and pop a bunch of ginseng, you can actually do a lot of damage to your body especially your heart and nervous system. This because ginseng also known as Ren Shen is a very powerful Qi tonic and is only advised under certain circumstances, and being "tired" is not one of them.
If you are looking to get herbs, or you have some questions about Qi please feel free to contact me. I will talk to you soon.