Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
In traditional Chinese medicine, is there a difference between “ki deficiency” and “qi deficiency”?
A: “Ki” in this case refers to “kidney”. There are many differences between kidney deficiency and qi deficiency.
The kidneys are the root of the person and house the primordial essence, which in turn drives the body’s qi. So, in essence it is the source of the root qi. Kidneys also control the lower water passages, including urination and conception; therefore, a deficient kidney often affects the lower passages and the general state of the body’s qi. Kidney deficiency may also refer to the yin aspect of the kidneys, often seen in elderly, as they deplete their primordial essence. Qi deficiency, on the other hand, may refer to a specific organ qi. For example, spleen qi indicates digestive pathologies; lung qi indicates respiratory pathologies, and so forth. Qi deficiency may also refer to the body’s defensive (wei qi) or constructive (ying qi) elements.