“So what you’re telling me,” Brian said, “is that eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough every night is screwing with my qi?”
He was smirking. It was obvious that Brian already knew the answer.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of qi (or vital energy), you probably know that ice cream isn’t exactly health food.
Think of qi as the natural flow of all your body’s systems — including the flow of blood, lymph, hormones, and information. Anything that screws with this flow also screws with your health.
Brian already knew that ice cream was screwing with his qi. But he didn’t know why.
Was it the sugar, the dairy, or something else that he hadn’t even thought of?
And that’s precisely why he came to see me.
In fact, Brian had a specific goal.
“I know you will get to the bottom of this,” he said, “and I’m betting that you’ll find a way for me to keep some ice cream in the mix.”
I’ll talk more about Brian’s story in a little bit, but first, let’s look at all the surprising things that can screw with your qi!
17 Surprising Things Screwing with Your Qi
This list is not exhaustive, but instead focuses on some of the biggest issues that my wife and I have seen over the years.
Rather than list EVERYTHING that screws with your qi, I’ll discuss the things that might not even be on your radar.
I’ll also give you ideas for managing these things.
Okay, this one isn’t surprising. You already know that sugar is bad for you. In qigong terms, this is because it messes with your Stomach Qi.
Cutting out sugar ain’t easy. I know because, for most of my life, I had a terrible sweet tooth. I finally kicked the addiction when I did a 30-day detox program called the Whole30. You can buy the book, or get tons of information on their website for free. They’ve really got the program down to a science.
There are a ton of sugar detoxes out there. Find one that works for you. For me, the 30-day detox made it EASY to say no to sugar.
2. Prescription Drugs
It’s a sad state of affairs when medicine that is prescribed by a physician can also harm you, but alas, that’s the world we live in. Here are some of the worst offenders:
Opioids are lifesavers, but they are also dangerous. I’ve seen opioids wreak havoc on the lives of students and clients. Please educate yourself about opioids, and only take them when absolutely necessary. It’s such a big issue that I’ve written an entire article on the subject.
Synthetic hormones like birth control pills may contribute to something call “leaky gut”, and also suppress your natural biorhythms (by design). I’m not saying you need to stop taking the pill, but you should be aware that it does screw with your qi.
Antibiotics are overprescribed in America. Period. Even when they are absolutely necessary, they still screw with the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, thus inhibiting your immune system. A good probiotic will help, but remember that you need to take them for up to 6 months to restore the gut flora.
Anti-depressants can be a godsend, but they can also raise your risk of suicide, which is so ironic that it hurts my heart. However, getting off anti-depressants is tricky business, and should always be done with medical supervision. And of course, you will need an alternative to manage your depression. My book tells my own story of depression, and how I used qigong to treat it. The book also comes with a free online course that will teach you the basics of qigong.
3. Non-prescription Painkillers
Many people still don’t know that Advil and Tylenol can be dangerous. Yes, they are sometimes necessary, but if you are popping 800mg of Advil every day, the you are screwing with your Liver Qi and your detox mechanisms.
I’ve wrestled with chronic pain, and I empathize with the struggle. I know that painkillers often feel like an absolute necessity to sleep or just get through the day.
Luckily, there are better and safer solutions to pain, like qigong and acupuncture. Make it a goal to cut down on over-the-counter painkillers. Your liver will thank you.
If you are sensitive to gluten, then cutting it out can make a huge difference.
Gluten is just a protein, but it can trigger or exacerbate autoimmune issues. It also contributes to leaky gut syndrome.
The problem is that gluten is ubiquitous in the West. Many people don’t know whether or not they are sensitive until they quit for 30 days.
A Whole30 (see #1) will help you get to the bottom of this and other food sensitivities, and also teach you how easy it actually is to avoid gluten.
5. Cell Phones
It took me a while to accept this. I’m a techno-junkie. I love my iPhone.
At present, there’s no conclusive research that cell phone radiation causes definitive harm. But there’s also no conclusive evidence that it doesn’t.
Cell phones are big business, and there is a lot of money at stake. Like with tobacco, I believe it will take time for researchers to challenge the big money of cell phones.
You should know that this isn’t some sort of woo woo conspiracy theory. There’s already research that says that “the regular and long term use of microwave devices (mobile phone, microwave oven) at domestic level can have negative impact upon biological system especially on brain.” [PubMed Source]
I’m sensitive to my own energy, so I was able to do my own experiments with my cell phone. I’m now convinced that the 3G signal screws with my qi. I have no idea how MUCH it screws with my qi, but I’m not taking chances.
That’s why I bought an anti-radiation case for my phone. I also keep it on airplane mode as often as possible.
6. Bad Feng Shui
Qigong is all about the flow of qi through humans.
Feng shui is another Chinese art, but it’s all about the flow of qi through spaces and buildings.
We all know that some rooms just feel right. And some rooms feel wrong. That’s feng shui.
If you live in a house or work in a place that has terrible feng shui, then it might be screwing with your qi.
Unfortunately, it’s very hard to feel the bad energy if you’ve been living or working there for a long time. This is yet another reason to go on a mindfulness retreat.
Getting out of your regular environment and into a new environment with amazing feng shui (like our retreat center in Costa Rica) can be a game changer.
Feng shui is greatly misunderstood in the West, but if you are curious to learn more, then I recommend this book as a primer.
Sorry boys, but if you ejaculate too frequently, then you lose qi.
On the other hand, if you ejaculate too infrequently, your qi stagnates.
How are we to solve this conundrum?
Two thousand years ago, the Su Nu Jing (素 女 經) , a classic text on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), advised how frequently a man should ejaculate to maintain optimal health. The following chart shows the guidelines from that classic text.
Your miles may vary.
Every 4 days
Every 8 days
Every other day
Every 16 days
Every 4 days
Every 3 days
Every 21 days
Every 10 days
Every 5 days
Every 30 days
Every 20 days
Every 10 days
Some women feel fantastic during pregnancy. Some women don’t.
Either way, creating another human being from scratch undoubtedly drains your qi.
In China, women are given a least 1 full month, and often much longer, to rest and restore their qi. During this time, they are waited on like queens. Often, they aren’t even allowed to dress themselves because it is considered too strenuous!
We’ve got a lot of catching up to do in the West! Maternity leave here in the U.S. is awful. Women are hardly given any time to replenish their qi.
While it’s a testament to the inner strength of American mothers that they can give birth and then go back to work 2 weeks later, I think we can all agree that it would be better if they were given plenty of time to replenish their qi.
Regardless, practicing qigong after giving birth is the #1 way to replenish the qi that you’ve lost.
According to Chinese medicine, the proper alignment of your body matters. And this alignment depends on bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and also qi.
For example, if you are lordotic (abnormal lumbar curve) or kyphotic (abnormal thoracic curve), if one shoulder is higher than the other, if one leg is longer than the other — then your structure is off.
And when your structure is off, it blocks many other forms of treatment, including acupuncture and qigong.
In my qigong school, we address this issue with exercises that align the qi.
Here are some other good ways to work on a healthier structure: massage therapy, cupping therapy, yoga, pilates, and foam rolling.
No, not the movie kind. I’m talking about [cue scary music] ENERGY vampires.
You know the type — those people who suck your energy dry. They don’t necessarily do it on purpose. They can be good people.
But this is a real phenomenon.
If you don’t draw healthy boundaries., if you let the vampires continually drain your qi, then you’ll constantly be depleted.
Qigong also helps by strengthening your energy field, replenishing your lost qi, and by giving you the courage to draw healthy boundaries.
11. Cold Stuff
In Chinese medicine, the human metabolism is likened to a furnace. If too much of your food and drink is cold, then the body will need to use extra qi to heat it up before it can be metabolized.
If you eat a lot cold cereal, ice cream, or raw veggies, or if you drink a lot of iced beverages, then you may be screwing with your metabolism and your digestive system.
This is why acupuncturists will often tell you to stop putting ice in your beverages, or to cook your vegetables instead of eating them raw.
According to Chinese medicine, sleep is a natural form of qigong that replenishes, harmonizes, and restores your qi.
If your’e not getting quality sleep, if you don’t wake up every morning feeling incredibly well rested, then you’ve got insomnia.
In the West, sleeping poorly has become the norm. We just accept it.
Thankfully, sleep hygiene is becoming a bigger issue, even in corporate America. Arian Huffington wrote an entire book on the subject of sleep.
Two things really help with improving sleep hygiene.
First, get yourself a pair of blue blocker goggles and put them on at dusk. My wife and I look ridiculous wearing them at night, but we don’t care.
Second, cut out all caffeine after 1pm. It ain’t easy, but it definitely helps.
13. Nutritional Deficiencies
Your body can’t generate qi without the right nutrients.
In other words, what’s screwing with your qi is something that you’re NOT getting, like vitamin D, B12, folate, vitamin K, or magnesium.
Sometimes, this is caused by a genetic issue, like with the MTHFR genetic mutation, which requires proper supplementation. Sometimes, you’re just not getting enough B12. Sometimes, you aren’t getting nearly enough sun.
But one thing is for sure — the deficiencies will show on your blood work.
Often, you’ll need to ask for (and pay for) an expanded blood test in order to get to the bottom of these deficiencies. You also need someone who can interpret them correctly.
14. Hair, Skin, and Beauty Products
Modern makeup can have some awful stuff in it.
For example, lipstick often has lead in it. Yes, that poisonous substance that we go to great lengths to protect our children from — you’re putting it on your lips!
Other beauty products like perfumes and hair products often contain terrible things too, including carcinogens.
All of this junk screws with your immune system and your hormones.
Check your products here for a toxicity score.
15. Smoking & Vaping
Okay, this one isn’t surprising. People know that smoking is bad for you. But what’s surprising is that nicotine products are still legal and easily available.
I quit smoking ages ago and it was one of the best things I ever did. Here’s the method that I used.
This one surprised me. Of course, everyone knows that too much alcohol is bad, but what about all the research that says a glass or two of wine is good for you?!?
Your thoughts affect your biology. Read Bruce Lipton’s work if you want to learn more about how this works.
In short, your thoughts affect your emotions, which affect your nervous system and your body chemistry.
In my experience, the single most effective way to change deep-rooted thoughts is to practice qigong (including sitting meditation).
Brian Lives Happily Ever After
I’m curious: How many of these were surprise for you? Let me know your score in the comments below.
As for Brian, he lived happily ever after.
I actually found a nice compromise that allowed him to continue eating ice cream.
First, I encouraged Brian to take a 30-day break from ice cream using the Whole30 method described above. This gave his body a chance to detox.
Afterward, with the help of an acupuncturist, I figured out that dairy and sugar weren’t the real culprits (even though they were also screwing with his qi).
It turns out that the cold from the ice cream (see #11) was strongly aggravating Brian’s digestive system.
Thanks to the 30-day detox, Brian was able to easily cut down his portions of ice cream. He also eliminated iced beverages from his diet — a trade he was happy to make in exchange for ice cream.
And of course, I taught Brian specific qigong exercises to help heal and nourish his digestive system.
Brian does a Whole30 every year now, but otherwise, he is able to enjoy a small bowl of ice cream every night.
[cut to Brian riding off into the sunset with a bowl of ice cream] Best regards, Sifu Anthony I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong (pronounced "chee gung") to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. Today, I'm the director of Flowing Zen, an international organization with students in 48 counties. I've been teaching qigong since 2005, I've served on the board for the National Qigong Association, and I’ve helped thousands of people to use qigong for their own stubborn health challenges. If you're ready to get started with qigong, there's no better way than my best selling book, which comes with free videos and meditations. The sooner you read my book, the sooner you can start healing! Click here to see my book on Amazon.