Does ancient medicine hold the secret to better lung health?
TCM and the lungs
Within the system of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the lungs are considered one of the most external of the internal organ systems. Meaning, the lungs come in contact with the outside world. According to TCM, the lungs influence the defensive qi (wei qi) of the body. This vital organ moves and spreads the defensive qi along the surface of the body. It does this so that it can warm the body and protect it from invading pathogens. When lung qi is weak we are vulnerable to pathogens. Chinese medicine diagnosis can detect weakness in the lungs by looking at the tongue, feeling the pulse and through observing the patient. Acupuncture therapy within the system of TCM can help if the lung qi (energy) is found to be weak or compromised. When lung qi is strong and the body is healthy there will be no respiratory issues.
How it works
Acupuncture in conjunction with breath work may allow people with lung diseases and distress to breathe easier. Acupuncture therapy has also been shown to release certain inherent chemicals such as endorphins, norepinephrine and enkephalin. These chemicals help to dilate and open the airways and calm the nervous system, making it easier to access the breath. Also noteworthy, acupuncture has been shown to relax the muscles surrounding the lungs and improve diaphragm function.
Additional modalities like cupping and herbal formulas can aid in moving mucus from the lungs, serve as a bronchodilator, and decrease inflammation and fluid build up. TCM believes that when we are breathing effortlessly the entire body can return to balance. Relaxed, deep breathing, a well functioning diaphragm and relaxing of the shoulders and upper breathing accessory muscles help support strong lung qi. Modalities such as postural restoration (PRI), qi gong, singing and pranayama form the yogic tradition are all ways to strengthen the lung qi. For more information on how other modalities like physical therapy approaches can assist in breathing see Dr. Barnard’s article on breathing titled: Breathing: How to Not Die, and Feel Great Doing it
Try it for yourself!
Want to try it for yourself? Come and visit our practitioners at Well Balanced Center for Integrated Care based out of Eugene Oregon. We can help get you breathing freely again and strengthen your lungs. Treating anything but not limited too, pain conditions, postural assessment, fatigue, allergies, asthma or COPD.
Written by Kileen Swenson Lac MAOM, Licensed acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner at Well Balanced Center for Integrated Care.