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Kidney | Tongue | Spleen – Qi Deficiency: Treatment, Meaning, And Diet

Qi (usually translated as “vital energy”), also known as gi in Korean tradition, khi in Vietnamese tradition, prana in Indian tradition, ki in Japanese tradition, mana in Hawaiian tradition, or pneuma in the Greek tradition, is the most basic substance of which the world is comprised.

There are different types of qi, such as:

  • post-natal qi or Hou tain qi – is the qi that we absorb during our lives from water, food, and the air we breathe;
  • ancestral qi or Yuan qi – is the qi that we’re born with and is inherited from our parents at conception;
  • protective qi or Wei qi – is the qi that flows at the surface of the body, as a protective sheath.

When this vital energy is flowing and balanced, that is, in harmony with the external and internal environment, the physical body and the mind are in good health.

All diseases and illnesses can be sourced, and therefore alleviated or remedied at the level of qi, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Plainly put, an imbalance in one’s vital energy can lead to an imbalance in one’s well-being.

Symptoms of Qi deficiency:

  • higher susceptibility to infections;
  • moodiness and mood swings;
  • pale-colored tongue;
  • urinary incontinence;
  • pains that change in frequency or severity;
  • fatigue and weakness;
  • nausea and vomiting, loose stools to watery stools, and abdominal pain.


Emotional imbalance 

According to the TCM, a physical disorder associated with a specific organ actually originates from an imbalance in the emotion linked with that organ. Furthermore, the problem is not the intensity of the emotions but the prolonged duration which causes damage.


When we are under stress, the part of the brain which controls the stress response is pumping out a lot of stress hormones that leads to qi stagnation.

Accidents or Surgery

They can lead to qi stagnation problems.

Over-consumption of Alcohol, Fatty, Greasy, and High in Cholesterol Foods

Obtaining adequate nutrition is a crucial part of living a healthy life. A typical western diet increases the risk of numerous diseases and may also lead to qi stagnation.

Lack of Physical Exercise

Physical inactivity is one of the main causes of most chronic diseases. If you practice regular physical exercise, you will increase your overall well-being and energy levels, indifferent of any adverse inherited factors.

Prescription Medications

The drugs responsible for the most serious adverse reactions are sleeping pills, tranquilizers, drugs for abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure drugs, digoxin, and prescription medications for treating intestinal problems.

Lack of Sleep

A lack of adequate sleep can affect mood, judgment, ability to learn, energy levels, metabolism, and may also increase the risk of injury.


Kidneys are the organs involved in regulating electrolyte balance, blood pressure, and red blood cell production in the physical body. Moreover, they help control the levels of various essential minerals and water in the body. Another important job of the kidneys is to filter waste materials from the blood and remove them from the body as urine.

They contain the main reserve of energy within the body which is available to use for times of stress or to age gracefully.

READ MORE: Iron Deficiency Anemia – Spiritual Meaning


Symptoms of qi deficiency related to the tongue


The tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth and has numerous purposes, like – breathing, licking, swallowing, tasting, and articulating speech.

The tongue is also considered to be strongly associated with many organs through the meridians (the body’s energy pathways). Individuals with qi deficiency in the tongue have the following symptoms – tender texture, red tongue, or a lack of body fluid.

READ MORE: Your Tongue Color & Your Health In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)


Symptoms of qi deficiency related to the spleen


The spleen is the largest organ of the lymphatic system and is positioned in the left upper abdomen. It serves an important role in keeping the blood circulating in the body and the energy in the meridians. More importantly, old red blood cells are recycled in the spleen and the white blood cells are stored here.

Qi deficiency diet

It is recommended a diet based on a wide variety of whole plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, seeds, and nuts such as:

  • Fruits – pears, apples, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, peaches, limes, nectarines, plums, raspberries, bananas, pineapples, watermelon, kiwi, blackberries, papayas, strawberries, apricots, cantaloupe, mangoes, cherries, grapes, and blueberries.
  • Vegetables – carrots, tomatoes, turnip greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant, broccoli, celery, cauliflower, bell peppers, yams, cucumbers, zucchini, squashes, cabbage, mushrooms, kale, asparagus, butter lettuce, onions, garlic, romaine, and spinach.
  • Legumes – chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, navy beans, and soybeans.
  • Seeds – sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflowers seeds, and flax seeds.
  • Nuts – pecans, cashews, chestnuts, and almonds.
  • Grains – oats, oat bran, quinoa, and brown rice.

Foods to avoid:

  • iced, frozen, or too hot;
  • vegetable oils;
  • foods high in saturated fats and LDL cholesterol – meats, dairy products, and eggs;
  • alcohol (gin, vodka, beer, wine, baijiu, whiskey, tequila, brandy, and soju );
  • caffeine;
  • artificial sweeteners and food additives.

READ MORE: 7 Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms

Other methods to overcome qi deficiency:


Using this technique, the body’s energy can be accessed and manipulated.

Massage Therapy

It can be a beneficial and easy method in encouraging the flow of energy and can be very helpful in preventing an injury from occurring.

Physical Exercise

It speeds up a sluggish metabolism and increases the production of energy and blood. Practicing aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes every day also helps with digestion, mood, appetite, sleep, and energy. Exercise at any time of day, however, not at the expense of your sleep.


Qi easily becomes stagnant when its circulation in the physical body is restricted by emotional blockages. The practice of meditation is an ancient mind-body practice that is used all over the world to cultivate inner peace, relaxation, and well-being.


Deep sleep is vital to maintaining a robust memory, good energy levels, and overall health. Aim for 7 hours of sleep per night.

Energy Healing

Reiki treatments (or other energy healing methods) increase your supply of energy and help you heal faster.

READ THIS NEXT: Dai Ko Myo Meaning – Reiki Master Symbol

Featured image credit – Shutterstock/jonathan salguedo