Some Commonly Used Eastern Medicine Terms

Blood – is used as a broad term to describe the physical blood in the body that moistens the muscles, tissues, skin and hair, as well as nourishing the cells and organs

Blood Deficiency – a lack of blood with signs of anemia, dizziness, dry skin or hair, scant or absent menstruation, fatigue, pale skin and poor memory

Cold – is the term used to describe decreased functioning of an organ system and presents as any of the following: body aches, chills, poor circulation, fatigue, lack of appetite, loose stools or diarrhea, poor digestion, pain in the joints, slow movements and speech, aversion to cold and craving for heat. Is present in all “hypo” conditions such as hypoadrenalism, hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism

Damp, Dampness – excessive fluids in the body with symptoms of abdominal bloating, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, lack of thirst, feeling of heaviness or being sluggish, and stiff, aching or sore joints

Damp Heat – a condition of dampness and heat combined with symptoms of thick yellow secretions and phlegm such as jaundice, hepatitis, urinary problems, or eczema

Deficiency – any weakness or insufficiency of qi, blood, yin, yang or essence

Empty Heat – a deficiency of yin energy resulting in symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats and other changes in hormonal levels. Also known as empty fire

Essence – a fluid substance that provides the basis of reproduction, growth, sexual power, conception and pregnancy. It is the material foundation of qi and is stored in the kidney. Also referred to as Jing

Excess – generally refers to too much heat, cold, damp, yin or yang

Fire – results from malfunction of the internal organs or from extreme mood swings. Symptoms include fever, red or bloodshot eyes, swelling, sore throat and flushed face. May also include dry mouth, bleeding or inflammed gums, and a desire for cold drinks

Meridians – the 12 major pathways through which qi flows, supplying energy and nourishment to the body. Acupuncture needles are placed in points along these pathways to assist in correcting imbalances

Phlegm – may be a visible, sticky substance such as mucus or metaphorical to indicate a disorder that causes a reduction in the flow of qi

Qi – pronounced “chee”, this is the vital energy or life force which flows through the meridians and is used to protect, transform and warm the body

Qi Deficiency – a lack of qi which is seen with symptoms of lethargy, weakness, shortness of breath, slow metabolism, frequent colds and flu with slow recovery, low or soft voice, palpitations and/or frequent urination

Shen – the spirit and mental faculties of a person which include the zest for life, charisma, the ability to exhibit self control, be responsible, speak coherently, think and form ideas and live a happy, spiritually fulfilled life

Stagnation – a blockage or buildup of qi or blood that prevents it from flowing freely. Is a precursor of illness and disease and is frequently accompanied by pain or tingling

Yang – represents heat and the body’s ability to generate and maintain warmth and circulation Yang deficiency – a cold condition due to lack of the heating quality of yang. Symptoms include lethargy, poor digestion, cold, lower back pain and decreased sexual drive

Yin – represents cool and the substance of the body, including blood and bodily fluids that nurture and moisten the organs and tissues

Yin Deficiency – a heat condition that results in symptoms of night sweats, fever, nervous exhaustion, dry eyes and throat, dizziness, blurred vision, insomnia and a burning sensation in the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and the chest