In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs are considered to be much more than just a physical organ…
As with all the organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs are considered to be much more than just a physical organ but a whole energy system that encompasses functional as well as physical aspects. The throat, nose and sinuses, as well as the skin, are part of the lung system and many different conditions such as the common cold, sinus infections, allergies, asthma and bronchitis are under the control of the lung system.
When treating a respiratory condition, Chinese Medicine is not concerned with whether a virus or bacteria caused the problem, but how it is showing up in the body. For instance, two people could have a cold caused by the same strain of virus but one person has a raging fever with a dry cough, and a big pounding pulse and the other could be cold, have wheezing with lots of watery phlegm and a thin weak pulse. The first patient is given herbs and acupuncture to clear the heat associated with the fever and moisten the dryness in the lungs, while the second treatment works on resolving phlegm, warming the cold and strengthening the lungs.
We all have different constitutions and vulnerabilities so it is important to receive treatment based on who we are as unique individuals. An other example is one person who always gets a cold with a severe sore throat in the fall but it resolves quickly, while their spouse has year-long allergies with a constant runny nose. They’re both exposed to the same pathogens but they respond differently to different stressors.
Strengthening the Lungs
Regardless of which respiratory condition someone may suffer from, there are ways to nourish and strengthen lung energy. Deep, relaxed breathing is most important. It sounds simple but most of us do not breathe to full capacity. It takes training. Spend a few minutes each day and whenever you think about it to relax your neck, shoulders and chest and feel your belly expand with each breath. Activities like swimming and aerobic exercise can be beneficial as well as practicing breathing exercises called pranayama that come from the discipline of yoga
Foods that are helpful for lung function are pungent flavored foods like garlic, onions and scallions. Also fresh, alive organic vegetables with sprouted seeds are nourishing lung foods.
Grief- the Emotion of the Lungs
Chinese Medicine is a holistic system and recognizes that what we think and feel plays a huge part in our physical health. Every organ system has an emotion associated with it: The liver has anger, the spleen has over thinking and worry, the kidneys fear, the heart manic joy, and the lungs have sadness and grief associated with them. We all have emotions and it is normal to express them in the proper context. When emotions can negatively affect health is when they are suppressed rather than expressed, when they are felt for a long time and not let go, or when they are inappropriate for the situation. Excessive sadness and grief for long periods can affect the health of the lungs and it is also true that if there is a prolonged physical problem in the lung system a person will also have feelings of sadness.
Regardless if your condition manifests as mostly a physical issue or whether you are seeking some relief from your deep sorrow, Chinese Medicine is a gentle but effective therapy to bring you back into balance.
To Your Best Health,
Sydney Cooley L. Ac., Dipl OM
801 Florida Rd, Suite 12, Durango, CO