Impact of Qi-invigorating traditional Chinese medicines on intestinal flora: A basis for rational choice of prebiotics

Chin J Nat Med. 2017 Apr;15(4):241-254. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(17)30041-9.


According to the theory of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Qi (vital energy) is regarded as a driving force of biological activities in human body, including both nutrient substances and organ functions. Qi-invigorating TCMs are widely used to treat various symptoms and disorders, such as fatigue, obesity, immunosuppression, intestinal flora imbalance, and gastrointestinal diseases, in which Qi is considered to be reduced or depleted. Interestingly, abundant clinical evidences suggest that these disorders are associated with the alternation of intestinal flora, which directly affects disease status. Herein we review the interaction between gut microbiota and Qi-invigorating TCMs under healthy and disease conditions and discuss the mechanisms of action and applications of Qi-invigorating TCMs in enhancing health status through microbial alternation. A better understanding of the role of Qi-invigorating TCMs in modulating microbial composition and the association between intestinal microbiota and diseases would help reveal the clinical consequences of microbiota alteration and explore opportunities to harness this symbiotic relationship to improve public health.

Keywords: Gut microbiota; Qi; Traditional Chinese medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Prebiotics*
  • Qi


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Prebiotics