The energy of the Lungs

This post is copied from our older, original blog. Original post date 10/30/2013.

By Marcie Bower, Lic.Ac.

The energy of the Lungs, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, controls a wide array of physiological functions in the body. This energy is associated with the energy of the fall – of harvest, and turning inward, and protection. It is for this reason that pathologies involving the Lung energy are most common this time of year. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine viewpoint, the Lungs have the following functions:

  • Control breathing. When the Lung energy is compromised, there may be shortness of breath, a weak voice, or asthma.
  • Take the air that we breathe and turn it into Post-Natal Qi. This post-natal Qi is formed from a mixture of this air and the food that we eat, and can be roughly thought of as our day-to-day energy or vitality.
  • Descend energy and water from the chest and thorax into the lower regions of the body. When the function of descending energy is compromised, there may be a cough. When water descending is compromised, the patient may experience problems with urination, swelling, or edema.
  • Govern the body hair and the skin, moisten the skin and the space between the skin and muscles.
  • Control the Wei Qi, which is loosely linked to the Western medical concept of the immune system.
  • Control the opening and closing of the pores – weakness in the Lung energy can lead to spontaneous sweating, an aversion to wind (which enters the pores), or frequent infections (from the pores being too open).
  • Relate to grief. The Lungs are closely correlated with the emotion of grief, and healthy Lung energy can help the body through the grieving process.
  • Open into the nose and control the voice. Because of this function, we treat the lungs in order to treat any sort of cold, cough, congestion, or allergies. We also treat the lungs to treat problems with the sense of smell or loss of voice.

You can be sure that your lungs are in tip-top shape by getting regular acupuncture, taking Chinese herbs (if needed), and practicing breathing exercises through yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong.