The energetic system of the body has four vital substances, which interact together and with the organs to keep the physiology functioning. These vital substances are Essence, Qi, Blood, and Body Fluids. You can see all vital substances, including Qi, which is most often seen in the form of steam or vapor. Some books on Traditional Chinese Medicine, most notably those by Giovanni Macciocia, list Shen as a vital substance. Many Chinese scholars disagree with this however, as all vital substances are said to be viewable, while Shen (mental activity or spirit) is not.

Shen is one of the The Treasures in Chinese philosophy and thought. These are the essential energies that sustain human life. These three are Jing (or Essence), Qi, and Shen. And yes, Qi has dual ‘citizenship.’

Essence

In TCM essence is called “Jin” and is a combination of the character glyphs for “rice” and “green.” Essence is a fluid-like vital substance, the most basic and important of the vital substances to the body. Transformation of all other vital substances relies on essence.
[Read more]

Qi

The Chinese character for Qi (which is also spelled out in English as Chi and Ki) is the character for vapor over the character for rice. Rice and vapor represents the process of cooking.
[Read more]

Blood

[Read more]

Body Fluids

[Read more]

⇐ZangFu Theory                                                Essence⇒