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Rebellious Qi: When It Doesn’t Pay To Be A Rebel

Life’s short. So you may as well live it up and have a rich meal like it’s your final meal. Except that after eating a whole prime rib with a side of mashed potatoes, you kind of wish that it was your last day on Earth. Your food is coming up on you. Instead of savoring the meal for several hours and having fond memories of the occasion, you keep burping up the food. Then on your ride home, you can’t carry a conversation because you’re hiccupping like a possessed demon. 

In short, you are experiencing the TCM phenomenon of rebellious Qi. 

What is rebellious Qi and how can you quickly resolve it? 

Let’s start with the first question…

What is Rebellious Qi? 

If you know the basics of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), you know that Qi is a good thing. It’s the energy currency of the universe. It powers the stars, the planets and everything under the sun, including your organs. 

Just as nuclear energy most often serves the greater good, it has the potential for egregious harm and evil, so, too, can your own Qi backfire on you. 

Like the series of earthquakes in the early 19th century that caused the Mississippi River to run backwards, rebellious Qi is when energy (Qi) flows in the wrong direction. This disharmony of Yin/Yang balance occurs when there’e a disruption of the normal directional flow from an organ system. 

Rebellious Qi is when energy (Qi) flows in the wrong direction.

Most often, Rebellious Qi is associated with the Stomach channel of TCM. That’s because the most common symptoms of the condition are what western medicine associates with symptoms related to indigestion. While the Qi of the Stomach channel should indeed normally flow downward, it’s not the only organ system that ordinarily has a downward flow of Qi. The Lungs, Heart, Kidneys, Bladder, Small Intestine and Large Intestine channels also should descend Qi. 

But there’s a good reason why Stomach is almost always associated with Rebellious Qi. Along with the Lungs, it’s the most common channel that succumbs to this condition. When Rebellious Qi affects the Lung channel, coughing and wheezing may arise. 

If the directional flow of the Heart channel reverses in an upward direction, it’s more likely to affect a person’s emotional state; anxiousness, occasional sleeplessness and nervous system hyperactivity may manifest. And if you’ve ever had traveller’s diarrhea, you’ve experienced rebellious Qi of the Spleen. 

Rebellious Liver Qi

If you’ve had one too many alcoholic drinks, your liver may indeed want to rebel. Interestingly, the Liver organ system of TCM is supposed to direct Qi in an upwards direction. The Liver isn’t supposed to direct all the Qi at once; it should do so gradually. But when Liver Qi ascends too quickly or when the Liver sends up too much Qi, headaches or dizziness can occur. 

Resolving Rebellious Qi

So what causes this condition? To be sure, it’s not that your Qi has gone rogue. Rather, most often, it’s a lifestyle choice. For example, eating a very rich, fatty meal or drinking alcohol in excess. Eating cold or raw foods can also contribute to rebellious Qi. Taking certain prescription medications and experiencing chronic stress can fuel the condition as well. 

And as mentioned, external forces such as food-borne pathogens as well as the elements (Cold, Wind, Dampness, Heat) can lead to rebellious Qi. 

As for how to resolve it, TCM practitioners (acupuncturists, herbalists) can exactly pinpoint where the rebellious Qi is originating from. From there, a diagnosis and treatment can be assessed. 

In addition, TCM herbal formulas can be administered. The correct formula depends on the organ systems negatively impacted. For example, a bad bout of stomach discomfort from undercooked food or poor hygiene in the kitchen may be resolved with Stomacare, which resolves rebellious Stomach channel Qi. And if you find that your food is coming up on you, especially in your esophagus, PharynJoy may help.