Maintaining optimal respiratory health is of utmost importance for our overall well-being, as it plays a fundamental role in the proper functioning of our body. At the core of the respiratory system, the lungs bear a vital responsibility – facilitating the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air we breathe and our bloodstream. This process is essential for sustaining life and creating a harmonious internal environment.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the human body is seen as a complex system with interconnected pathways, wherein vital energy (Qi) flows along intricate meridian pathways. Aligned with the metal element, our lungs are considered one of the five vital organs in this holistic framework. Apart of their function in the respiration system, TCM practitioners recognise that the lungs also have essential roles in supporting the immune system and regulating energy flow and bodily fluids. They also emphasise the concept of Yin and Yang, which can significantly influence respiratory function. This article aims to delve into these profound TCM principles that can help enhance lung function and health.
Understanding Lung Yin and Yang in TCM
The philosophy of Yin and Yang is fundamental to TCM and has been an integral part of Chinese beliefs for thousands of years. Yin and Yang represent the dualistic nature of the universe and all things within it. Yin symbolises darkness, passivity, and cold, while Yang embodies brightness, activity, and warmth. These two opposing forces are interconnected and must remain balanced for optimal health.
What is Lung Yin and Yang and Why is a Balance Important?
When talking about Lung Yin and Yang, it specifically refers to the energies that govern the functioning of the lungs. Maintaining a balance between these two aspects is important because imbalance can lead to various respiratory issues and may affect the lungs’ ability to detoxify properly. If the Lung Yin is deficient, the lungs may fail to adequately moisturise and detoxify, resulting in dryness and an inability to clear toxins effectively. On the other hand, a deficiency in Lung Yang can lead to poor lung circulation and weakened immune responses, making the body more susceptible to respiratory ailments and infections. Now, let’s delve deeper into each aspect for a comprehensive understanding.
Lung Yin is crucial in keeping your respiratory system well-moistened and nourished, ensuring smooth and comfortable breathing. However, if there is a slight imbalance in this energy, you might notice some signs, such as a dry cough, a feeling of heat in the chest, and dryness in the throat or mouth. Sometimes, you may also experience night sweats, hot flashes, and a red tongue with little coating. Various factors can contribute to a deficiency in Lung Yin, such as excessive consumption of spicy and fried foods, prolonged exposure to dry and hot environments, chronic stress, and smoking.
Herbs that Nourish Lung Yin
To address a deficiency in Lung Yin and restore balance, various herbs can be utilised for their nourishing properties. The recommended herbs include:
Bai He (Lily Bulb)
“Bai He” is the Chinese term for Lily Bulb, a widely used herb with specific therapeutic properties, particularly for addressing conditions related to Lung Yin deficiency. This type of herb has the ability to tonify and replenish Yin energy in your body. But that’s not all – it is often praised for its soothing effects on the respiratory system, making it beneficial for individuals experiencing coughs, dry throat, and other lung-related discomforts. Its nourishing properties also extend to the skin, promoting a healthy complexion and helping to alleviate skin dryness. This versatility has made it a popular ingredient for Chinese medicine lung health. Typically, you can find it in tea form, which can be easily prepared by steeping it in hot water for a few minutes. Alternatively, it is also available as an ingredient in herbal supplements, offering a convenient way to incorporate its therapeutic benefits into your daily routine.
Ophiopogon Root Granules
Besides that, another herb that can help nourish Lung Yin is Ophiopogon Root or “Mai Men Dong”. Like “Bai He”, it also has moisturising and nourishing properties. However, its unique advantage lies in its exceptional ability to provide deep moisture and hydration to the respiratory system. For those with discomfort in the lungs, throat, and nose, this herb offers much-needed relief by lubricating and soothing the respiratory passages. Thanks to advanced processing techniques in TCM, this herb is now conveniently available in the form of granules or powders, making it effortless to prepare your very own herbal tea.
As mentioned earlier, Yang energy is characterised by its warming, dynamic, and controlling qualities. Its vital role involves ensuring the smooth distribution of Qi throughout the body, promoting the optimal function of organs and tissues. However, when faced with deficient Lung Yang conditions, you may experience a lack of warmth and healthy movement, as well as a decrease in controlling functions. It is as if the internal energy is insufficient to maintain the usual level of activity and vigour. This can manifest as symptoms such as shortness of breath, a tight chest, or wheezing. In such cases, the tongue often appears pale in colour. Typically, there are several causes of Lung yang deficiency, such as prolonged exposure to cold and damp environments, lack of physical activity, long-term or recurrent illnesses and excessive consumption of cold and raw foods.
Herbs that Strengthen Lung Yang
To strengthen Lung Yang and address its deficiency, TCM uses various herbs known for their warming and enriching properties. Here are some commonly used herbs for this purpose:
Cordyceps or also known as “Dong Chong Xia Cao” in Chinese, is a fascinating fungus that has been used in (TCM) for centuries. It holds immense value due to its unique properties in tonifying the lungs and kidneys, enhancing respiratory function, and boosting overall vitality. Cordyceps is believed to have a particular affinity for the lungs and is thought to strengthen the Lung Yang, representing the warming and energetic aspect of the lungs. Consequently, it has become a favoured supportive herb in TCM for various respiratory conditions, including chronic cough, asthma, and bronchitis. Its reputed ability to clear phlegm, moisten the lungs, and promote easier breathing further enhances its popularity in traditional remedies. This herb is prepared in various forms in Chinese remedies, such as whole mushrooms, powders, extracts, or tablets.
Astragalus Root Granules
Astragalus Root is another commonly used herb to strengthen Lung Yang. Derived from the Astragalus membranaceus plant native to parts of Asia, it serves as a potent tonic with immune-boosting and energy-enhancing properties. Moreover, its effectiveness in addressing chronic coughs and shortness of breath makes it a valuable choice for individuals experiencing such conditions linked to Lung Yang imbalance. The convenience of Astragalus Root being available in granule form further enhances its usage. It is easily dissolved in water, offering a palatable and convenient way to consume it.
In TCM, achieving lung health is closely tied to maintaining a harmonious balance between Lung Yin and Yang. The lungs play a pivotal role in supporting the body’s overall well-being, and imbalances can lead to various respiratory issues. TCM offers herbs like Bai He, Ophiopogon Root, Cordyceps, and Astragalus Root to address Lung Yin and Yang imbalances and support respiratory health. Nevertheless, it is always beneficial to seek personalised guidance from a qualified TCM practitioner to get treatment based on your needs.
If you’re looking for herbal health supplements and respiratory support, we encourage you to explore our extensive product range at Tong Jum Chew. We offer traditional Chinese medicine that incorporates the mentioned herbs to provide a natural and time-tested approach for boosting your lung health.