The Lungs

The lungs are situated in the thoracic cavity and have the throat as their door and the nose as their outlet. They are a yin viscus, forming a yin-yang relationship with the large intestine, which is a yang bowel. The lungs are in charge of the respiratory energy, or the energy of air. When the lungs fail to control respiratory energy properly, they will give rise to cough, asthma, or difficult breathing.

After foods have passed through the stomach and spleen and been digested properly, they are mixed up with the clear energy of the lungs to become important ingredients of true energy for distribution throughout the entire body. When the lungs fail to distribute true energy properly, such symptoms as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, too tired to talk and excessive perspiration will occur. These are all symptoms of the syndrome called energy deficiency of the lungs. The lungs should be able to expand so that air can go through the nose and the mouth easi-ly. When the lungs fail to expand, congested chest, cough, or asthma may occur. The lungs should also be able to push energy downward and when they fail to do so, cough, asthma, scant urine, or edema may occur.

The lungs are in charge of opening and regulating waterways. Circulation of body fluids is a function of many organs working together as a team, including the lungs. Under normal circum-stances, the lungs are capable of sending fluids downward to the kidneys, which pass the fluids to the bladder for excretion. When a pathogenic energy attacks the lungs to impair their normal func-tions, it will give rise to such symptoms as diminished urination and edema, which is why it is often said that "the lungs are the upper source of water."

The lungs are in charge of the voice, because the production of the voice and the functions of the lungs are closely related to each other. When the lungs are full of energy, the voice will be loud, when the lungs are suffering from energy deficiency, the voice will be feeble. Cold and wind may attack the lungs to cause energy congestion of the lungs, which will give rise to hoarseness or loss of voice. The lungs use the nose as an outlet. The nose is the passage through which air comes and goes, so it is directly related to the lungs. When the lungs are functioning normally, air will go through the nose very smoothly and there will be a normal sense of smell. When the lungs are dis-eased, it will give rise to nasal congestion, nasal discharge and an impaired sense of smell and, in severe cases, there may be a flickering of the nostrils and difficult breathing.

The lungs are in charge of the skin and the hair. The skin and hair are the outermost regions of the human body and the lungs can send defense energy and body fluids to them for nourish-ment. When the energy of the lungs is normal, the skin and hair will be moist and smooth and the pores will be well guarded. But as soon as the energy of the lungs becomes deficient, there will be a shortage of defense energy and the outermost regions will not be guarded properly, which will give rise to excessive perspiration and the common cold. Both the lungs and the heart are situated above the diaphragm, with the lungs in charge of energy and the heart in charge of blood. When energy flows, the blood will circulate and when energy congestion occurs, blood circulation will be impaired. Thus, the lungs and the heart can be seen to work together in control of energy flow and blood circulation.

The lungs are in charge of energy and the spleen can produce energy. Thus, lung diseases can, in many cases, be treated by toning up spleen energy. For example, a chronic cough with a great deal of white sputum can be treated this way.

The lungs and the large intestine form a yin-yang relationship with each other. Therefore, a cough and asthma due to excessive heat in the lungs can be treated by sedating the large intestine to clear up sputum heat, so the energy of the lungs will move downward, producing relief of the cough and asthma. And constipation, which is a symptom of the large intestine, may be due to energy deficiency of the lungs, in which case, the energy of the lungs should be strengthened to relieve the constipation.