Learn More About TCM and QI

How does Qi and TCM work?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system of diagnosis and healthcare modalities that was developed 3,000 years B.C.E. It includes acupuncture, diet, herbs, massage, moxibustion, feng shui, and Qi gong, with all modalities working with your Qi energy.

"Collected together, the ethers of the universe constitute a unity; divided they constitute Yin and Yang; quartered, they constitute the four seasons; [still further] sundered they constitute the five elements. These elements represent movement."

Tung Chung-Shu (Chinese philosopher who lived 2,000 years B.C.E.)

Ancient Chinese medical practitioners studied Nature and compared the body to the earth and air and the natural cycles found in nature. These cycles helped explain how Qi (energy) flows and how it works in the body. The cycle of the seasons spring, summer, fall and winter, day to night, birth, growth, degeneration, death, rebirth.


Five philosophical concepts of Chinese Medicine

TAO (pronounced "Dao"), the Source.

All life and energy is created from “Source.“ It is a formless essence that is not dependent on anything. Everything is created from this essence, and everything dissolves back into it. It is our potential energy. It is like a pilot light that sparks to ignite! Buddhism says, “Emptiness is not nothing, it's just no thing.” Another ancient religion, The Kabbalah has the concept of Three Negative Veils, Ain, Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur. Ain, means “nothing”. Ain Soph means “limitless”. Ain Soph Aur means “the limitless light.” The Tao, “limitless no thing” that all of creation springs from and returns to.


Qi (pronounced “chee”).

Qi is similar to the modern scientific notion of energy — the capacity of a system to do work. Our bodies are systems that work. From a bio-medical perspective, Qi can be regarded as the physiological activity of each cell. A disruption of Qi means our cells are not performing their jobs. Qi makes us alive, powers movement, and effects change.

We are not static, from the moment of conception to death we are in a state of movement. It is the power behind who we are, and how we act. Qi occurs simultaneously at four levels of awareness the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. It activates all physical, spiritual and emotional transformations. So if trauma has happened on any level, it means the flow of energy has been compromised. This disruption can present as an acute problem or show up years later.

At a body level how our Qi (energy) flows and circulates creates our health. The ease it flows through our body, our thoughts and emotions, and our spirit describes a unique evolutionary process. Acupuncture addresses Qi, and therefore, can help you through the physical, emotional and spiritual evolution/journey of life


Yin and Yang

Duality and opposites, one state cannot exist without the other state. The universal symbol of this concept is the “Tai Ji” — The Supreme Ultimate. They flow into each other like night into day or the changing of the seasons. It's a continuous cycle that describes our life cycle. In other words, Yang-energy cannot be without Yin-matter to create it (to have a fire, you must have fuel). Matter cannot exist without energy to create it.

Everything on this earth is defined by this duality for example, hot/cold, night/day, inside/outside, up/down, passive/active, male/female. Yang is defined as warm, moving active, upward, light-male. Yin is cool, passive, dark, moist, downward-female.

Sleep and lack of it is an example of a disruption of this Yin Yang cycle. It shows clearly how Yin/Yang cannot function properly without each other. Our Yang energy powers us through the day. It motivates us and gets things done! But Yang's power is dependent on our Yin energy. Yin, the fuel is created at night when we sleep. When you don't get enough sleep, your body is not replenished and your next day's Yang energy is weaker and symptoms of distress start to appear like being cranky, second-guessing decisions, not sharp and not wanting to do anything.


Five Elements & The Theory of Internal Organs

The Five Elements are based on the yearly seasonal progression of winter, spring, summer, and fall, and each season has a specific element. The seasons and elements reflect the “energy” of a particular season and the ancients accorded these energies to the organs of the body. The liver and gallbladder were accorded spring traits with wood as the element, and correspond to our life from birth to teen. The heart, small intestine, the pericardium and triple burner were accorded summer traits with fire as the element and correspond to our life from teen to adult. The spleen and stomach were accorded (harvest) late summer traits with earth as the element, and correspond to our life from adult to middle age. The lungs and large intestine were accorded late autumn traits, with Metal as the element, and correspond to our life from middle age to old age. The kidney and urinary bladder were accorded with winter traits with water as the element, and correspond to our life from old age to death.

The Chinese regard the body as a microcosm of the earth and matched our internal organs to the unique powers inherent to each element and season. Each internal organ has a meridian/channel (like a vein) flowing through the body. There are unique acupuncture points along these meridians, and specific treatment protocols developed over thousands of years. As a TCM doctor, Marcelle diagnoses how the elements are performing within the different organs and functions of your body and affords you the most comprehensive treatment regime.

For example, someone may suffer from low back pain, but under further questioning Marcelle discovers they are often dizzy, and get this ringing in their ears, their palms and soles of their feet feel hot. Marcelle would look to the winter/water phase/Ki/UB energy system as a possible cause because these are classic symptoms of this element as well as low back pain.

For another example, a person may complain of headaches or migraines. These symptoms may come on really strong when they become frustrated, the pain may traverse the side and top of their head and the wind aggravates it more. Marcelle would look to the spring/wood phase/LV/GB energy system as being distressed.


The Sheng and Ke Cycles

This is how the Chinese describe homeostasis, the means by which our body balances and controls itself. The Sheng Cycle — is the supportive cycle, a mother – child relationship. Each element is said to beget the next element. If the “child” (organ) is acting up, it might mean that the “mother” (organ) is deficient and not nurturing and supporting the child properly, or if the child is in excess, it could be depleting the mother's stores. Marcelle will diagnose whether the root of the problem is the child or the mother and treat accordingly.

Even though symptoms may present themselves in one area, the root cause of those symptoms might involve a different organ system completely. For example, someone might be suffering with an upset stomach, it never used to, but it has now been bothering them for months, with constant bloating, fatigue and lethargy. Those are the symptoms of the earth/spleen/stomach energy system. And upon further examination, Marcelle learns they have lost a loved one and are grieving. Grief in excess is the emotion of the metal/lungs/large intestines system, which is the child of the spleen/stomach. It is drawing too much from the mother system, and the mother is showing the symptoms — but the root of the problem is the grief. If Marcelle just treated the upset stomach, she would not be addressing the root and the stomachache and therefore it would come back. This is where Chinese medicine and Acupuncture can help release the excess within the child system, and tonify the depleted stores of the mother system to re-establish balance.

The Ke Cycle is a system of control and checks to help the organs and their energy systems keep each other in order. It is star shaped, water controlling fire, fire controlling metal, metal controlling wood, wood controlling earth, and earth controlling water. If an emotion or element is in excess within this system, it will try to overpower its controlling element, and disrupt proper function with unwelcome symptoms.

By using the same example of metal in excess-grief, if someone came in for depression, lacking motivation, difficulty making decisions, always second-guessing and couldn't even plan for the day. Marcelle might notice them sighing a lot or dullness/redness in their eyes. The symptoms are the wood/liver/gallbladder system, but it is the metal system drawing too much and has become over-controlling, depleting the wood system. We could not work on depression until we worked on the root, being the grief of the metal system. No one-organ system is allowed to dominate. Poor health results when this tries to occur. If there is an imbalance it can be located along these two cycles and then treated.



A human being is made up of a body, mind, and spirit. Chinese medicine believes these levels cannot be separated from each other. Qi (energy) flows and transforms from one level to another. All three levels are inextricably linked — we know this because our bodies cannot get up and go for a walk, leaving our minds working at our desk in the office. The root cause of a physical ailment (cancer, arthritis) may stem from a setback on the emotional or spiritual level viewed as psychosomatic disorders and idiopathic disease. When Marcelle helps balance body energy, it permeates through the whole system, helping emotional and spiritual energy. By manipulating Qi we have the ability to address the psyche as well as the body, also known as the soma.

Therefore, in understanding health from a Chinese Medical point of view, you need to realize that the harmonious flowing and transforming of our bodies Qi is essential for a balanced and healthy existence. If this energy becomes blocked, deficient or flares as an excess, becomes in any way unbalanced, or cannot transform with ease, we end up with neurosis, pain, and quality of life declines.


What To Expect From a TCM Diagnosis

When you come in for treatment your signs and symptoms will be diagnosed and categorized within a comprehensive structure called — The Differentiation of Syndromes. There are four categories: Eight Principles; Qi; Blood, Body Fluid; Zang-Fu Organs; and Meridians that help to determine the best course for treatment. Treatment will not only address your symptoms, relieving the discomfort that brought you in, it will also treat the root of the problem.

TCM and Western medicine approach the body and disease differently and when we work together we are in the ideal position to provide the best treatment possible for each patient, offering the benefit of a dual knowledge base. TCM will help promote stronger and longer lasting results because once unblocked and flowingd smoothly, the body's energy levels are working optimally to maintain health on all levels of being. Marcelle believes that combining Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine creates win-win situations for everyone involved. Acupuncture gracefully acknowledges Qi, the power of movement and the strength and resilience of maintaining balance needed to live.


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1130 12 Street SW, Calgary, AB T3C 1A7