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  • Writer's pictureJackie Koenig, L.Ac.

So Your Acupuncturist Says You Have a Qi Deficiency....

Let's explore how to build Qi back up with food and nourishing activities!

a full moon moving across the sky getting increasingly red

What IS a Qi deficiency anyway?

Qi is our life force; the energy we use to get through our day. It fuels our body's daily processes like digestion, metabolism, and muscle building. If you are low or deficient in Qi, you may experience symptoms like:

  • Fatigue

  • Insomnia

  • Poor digestion with either loose stool or chronic constipation

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Low appetite, eating "by the clock" and not because of hunger

  • Consistently in "fight or flight" mode or "always busy", has trouble scheduling breaks or vacations

  • Feeling depressed with no energy or motivation to change things

A Qi deficiency can develop over time with age or in chronically "busy" people who live and work in our stressed-out culture and don't make time to replenish their reserves. People who tend to "push through" stress or frequent and intense physical exertion often end up with deficient Qi as well.

Seasonally, spending time in intense Summer Heat can also deplete Qi, especially if there's excessive sweating. This can also happen in artificially hot environments (like hot yoga or saunas).


A hormone panel, sleep study, or other bloodwork might show perfectly normal numbers that wouldn't concern your Western doctor. This doesn't mean we can't improve the Qi deficiency and help you feel better!


How can I improve a Qi deficiency?

  • Eat more nourishing foods (see below!)

  • Work on getting regular deep, uninterrupted sleep

  • Add light exercise to your routine, ideally done outside (Points for Tai Chi or Qi Gong, see below)!

  • Cut down on the t0-do list, avoid strenuous exercise, delegate tasks to others at work and home

  • Meditate, journal, and spend time with loved ones who help "build you up"


What foods can help build Qi?

Dietary changes are a great place to start alleviating these symptoms.


Most importantly, food that is cooked and warm is most effective in building Qi. Raw salads and smoothies are too difficult for our bodies to digest and assimilate when our digestion is already weakened. Soups, stews, and steamed veggies are the most effective in building Qi. It's also a good idea to avoid drinking liquids during meals as this weakens our digestive juices and hinders digestion.

Read more about this on our post, How to Feed Your Body Well!


Additionally, foods that are mineral and vitamin rich can help build Qi, like:

  • Eggs

  • Seeds and nuts like sesame seed, almonds, walnuts, pistachio

  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams

  • Avocado

  • Coconut milk

  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi

  • High protein loads in fish, meat, beans, tofu, and yogurt (best eaten in small amounts, but regularly)


What other supplements and recommendations can help improve a Qi deficiency?

  • Acupuncture can support Qi building by helping to calm the nervous system, support digestion, and improve sleep.

  • Scheduling in regular "alone time" without needing to be productive can be a great way to reflect, reassess, and heal. This is much easier said than done in our Go-Go-Go culture, but so important!

  • Many Chinese herbal formulas are excellent at building Qi, including Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, Si Jun Zi Tang, and Ren Shen Ge Jie San. Make an appointment with a licensed Chinese Herbalist in order to find out which formula might work best for you!

  • The 8 Brocades Qi Gong Practice is a great way to build Qi! See below.




When can I expect to feel better?

Building Qi takes time and it may take several weeks to feel a drastic difference. It is important to be consistent with your dietary changes and to add more time to rest in your daily routine. Results may come faster when paired with herbal formulas and acupuncture.


If you're in the New Orleans area, book a treatment at Hidden Root Acupuncture for more personalized recommendations from your acupuncturist along your Qi building journey!




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