Lung Function and Immunity from the Chinese Medicine Viewpoint

Last month, I focused on the importance of liver health for overall quality of life. This month I’d like to focus on the lungs and their link to our immunity. Just as there is a connection between all of the internal organs, there is a connection between the lungs, liver and our immune system. To understand this, let’s look at the function of the lungs from the standpoint of Chinese Medicine:

  1. Govern Qi and Respiration
  2. Control the Channels and Blood Vessels
  3. Control Dispersing and Descending of Qi
  4. Regulate the Water Passages
  5. Control the Skin and Hair
  6. Open into the Nose

Sounds a little confusing, so let’s break it down:

1) Qi is energy which the lungs gather from the air we breathe. They inhale clean air and expel dirty air, i.e., carbon dioxide, and also any foreign invaders from our external environment. A fairly important function with regard to immune defense.

2) Controlling the channels and blood vessels: This refers to the flow of energy throughout the body and blood once Qi (air and energy) is gathered by the lungs for the body to use to defend itself and to nourish all the organs and tissues through the distribution of blood and body fluids.

3) The dispersing and descending action of the lungs refers to the particular direction of energy the lungs are responsible for. As I mentioned briefly in my last newsletter, all of the organs act like members on a team that relay information to each other in a certain direction, some up, some down, some across, and only one up and all over (the liver).

In the dispersing function, the lungs have 2 jobs: 1) to expel (disperse) pathogens we may inhale from our environment and 2) to distribute nourishment via blood and body fluids throughout the entire body, particularly to the skin and muscle tissue.

In the descending function, the energy gathered by the lungs must descend to the kidneys and large intestine who also have a particular job to do. The kidneys are responsible for grasping the air inhaled by the lungs. That is why someone with asthma has more of a kidney weakness than a lung issue. They cough when trying to take in air – not because the lungs aren’t working – but because the kidneys are not strong enough to grasp air and hold it in.

In the case of the large intestine, if insufficient energy is provided to this organ, defecation becomes sluggish and toxins will begin to build in the blood stream.

4) While the lungs gather air for energy, they also receive refined energy from the spleen (whose job it is to transform food into blood and body fluids and send it up to the lungs). This mixture of energy becomes a nutritive mist for the body to use to stay moist, particularly the skin and nasal passages. This is why we sweat – it’s one of the ways the body rids itself of toxins in addition to what is sent to the kidneys to expel through urination.

5) Controls skin and hair simply refers to the two previous functions. When there is sufficient moisture being distributed, skin will be lustrous and hair will shine. If not, both will be dull and/or dry.

6) Opens into the Nose: If one has healthy lung qi, the sense of smell will be strong, the nasal passage clear (and moist), the voice will be strong and there will be little to no phlegm (post-nasal drip).

So how does this relate to the liver? The flow of energy through the 12 channels follows a particular 2-hour sequence in the 24-hour day. With Liver being 1-3 am, and lungs being 3-5 am, energy must flow easily from liver to lung. These points, respectively, fall right along the chest area keeping it open and ready to receive more energy from the air we breathe. The liver is our primary detox center and the lungs circulate defensive qi, thus together their role is of vital importance to one’s ability to fight disease.

How to support the Lungs:

When plagued with a persistent cough, cold or flu-like symptoms, many people turn to the use of antibiotics. Unfortunately, they kill off good microorganisms as well as the bad, and what’s worse is that the unhealthy microorganisms become immune to the drugs very quickly, leaving the body even more defenseless.

Here are some healthy alternatives to support immunity and respiratory health. As with all medication, natural or otherwise, know what you are taking and why. I am always available to answer questions, and consult with those who are interested in preventative health care.

And don’t forget to take advantage of savings on acutonics treatments extended now through the 15th of May. No needles…just relief. Call 770.712.6298 to make your appointment.

1) Chinese Lung Support TCM #1004: Acts as a tonic to moisten and nourish the tissues of the respiratory tract, particularly the lungs.

2) Breathe EZ TCM Concentrate #1036-3: Combination of 14 Chinese herbs that provide nutritional support for the lungs and help increase the flow of mucous to remove toxins from the entire respiratory tract, especially the lungs.

3) HistaBlock #776-1: Provides nutrients that support the respiratory system in its battle against pollutants and toxins, especially during the changing seasons. It provides powerful antioxidants to help stabilize immune cells and provides soothing comfort for mucous membranes.

4) Sinus Support EF #1250-3: An ephedra-free formula that supports clear nasal passages and supplies nutrients that enhance proper respiratory function.

For more information on these products or to place an order, please visit my affiliate website at Nature’s Sunshine or any of the product links above, and click on Shop Now on the left-hand side of the page.

Stay Well!

Yours in Health,
Jennifer Gehl