Strengthening Our “Wei Qi” (Protective Qi)

Did your grandmother ever chase you around admonishing you to dry your hair before going to bed, rather than let your wet hair hit the pillow? 

Were you told never to walk outside barefooted?

Were you ever scolded for not covering your neck in the winter? 

What about drinking too many cold beverages? 

In TCM, there is the concept of protective qi, also known as “wei qi.  Wei qi is associated with 2 organs: spleen and lung. The lung is the most superficial organ of all and your first line of defense against external pathogens, including viruses.  There are, of course, rules about how to protect one’s Lung Qi in which the pores of the skin are the shield.  The opening and closing of pores happens when we sweat, feel cold, take hot showers, etc.  Once they open, pathogens can enter and get closed in.  Right now, it is more important than ever that we take steps to protect ourselves against viruses, so let’s consider how to keep the screen up and the bad guys locked out. 

Here are a few easy things you can do: wear a scarf that covers your neck (especially the nape) and chest.  A key acupuncture point called Feng Men translated as “wind gate” is located bilaterally alongside the spinous process of C2.  We use this point so often in acupuncture treatments.  It’s worth learning how to locate it for self massage, especially after being exposed to wind or cold weather.

teddy bear with knit scarf and hat

Wind outside is one thing, but artificial wind, in the form of fans and forced air heaters is another.  Avoid using the heater while sleeping.  It irritates the sinuses, causes dehydration, and can leave you full of phlegm in the morning.  Sleeping with extra blankets, warm socks and a soft loose scarf can take the place of a heater, especially in Los Angeles.  Fans stir up dust which can lead to headaches, dry out your nose and throat, and aggravate allergies. 

weighted blanket on chair


Eating pungent herbs and spices are traditional remedies for keeping external pathogens from invading the interior (our bodies).  Foods like scallions, ginger, garlic, chives, radishes, wasabi, and chili peppers are defenders and can sometimes make you sweat, in a good way.  I enjoy eating pho and other herb-rich soups this time of year.  

Here at the clinic, one of my favorite formulas for allergies and protecting the wei qi is Jade Screen Powder.  It includes many pungent herbs, like cinnamon and astragalus, which fortify the lung and spleen.  

jade screen bottle

Ask us about our herbal formulas next time you come in.  We even have formulas to help rebound from Covid-19.  Be safe and protect yourself.


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