Lung Health

Chinese Medicine for Improved Breathing

The importance of lungs and our dependency on respiratory health cannot be overstated as we depend on the lungs for every breath from the moment of birth until our eventual death. In Chinese medicine, the Lung energetic system takes on even more relevance to our physical and emotional health. Additionally, there is a complex set of relationships that show how Lung imbalances can result in disease patterns that reach far beyond breathing problems according to Chinese medical theory.


Acupressure for Lung Health and Improved Breathing

Apply the Metal Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Lung 7  



Common Lung Imbalances in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Lung Qi Deficiency

A weakness of the Lung Qi would make one more susceptible to cold and flu infections, asthma, seasonal hay-fever, COPD, pneumonia or any disease related to the Lungs. Additionally, Lung Qi Deficiency can contribute to diseases of organ systems that are inter-connected with the Lungs in Chinese medicine including digestive disorders of the Large Intestine, skin diseases, or sinusitis.

Symptoms of Lung Qi Deficiency:

  • Labored breathing or wheezing with physical exertion 
  • A weak voice that does not project itself
  • A pale face; not just the color of the skin, but the emanating superficial glow

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Lung Yin Deficiency

In the body Yin represent substance, moisture, blood, and tissue. In order for the Lungs to remain healthy, the tiny air sacs called alveoli where oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange occurs must stay nourished, moist, and flexible to function. Some people are born with a genetic tendancy towards Lung Yin Deficiency; they are often very thin with anal-retentive personality traits.

Symptoms of Lungs Yin Deficiency (may manifest alone or combined):

  • Dry cough 

-with no phlegm 
-with small amounts of sticky phlegm 
-with traces of blood in phlegm

  • Dry sinus issues 

-with no phlegm 
-with small amounts of sticky phlegm 
-with traces of blood in phlegm

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Lung Dryness

If Lung Yin Deficiency is allowed to persist without treatment, the Lungs will become dry; the spongy sacs called alveoli where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs begin to lose there spongy flexible quality and harden. Smoking cigarettes or marijuana leads to Lung Dryness. COPD is a common disease due to chronic Lung Dryness.

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If Lung Dryness persists, the Lungs will compensate by moistening the bronchi with phlegm; those developing COPD or emphysema may notice that they spit up small amounts of thick sputum at the long before the actual disease is diagnosed. The Lung Qi has a descending quality and moves downward in the body; if the Lung Qi is deficient or disrupted, Dampness and Phlegm may accumulate in the chest or sinuses.
Symptoms of Lung-Dampness:

  • Coughing with large amounts of phlegm
  • Difficulty breathing worsened when on lays on their back
  • Asthma with phlegm
  • Edema and swelling of legs and ankles (this typically indicates Kidney Deficiency also)

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Lung-Organ Associations in Chinese Medicine

The Lung and Kidney energetic organ systems are very closely related in Chinese medicine and work together closely. The Kidney is responsible for “grasping the Qi” when one takes a breath; therefore, conditions such as asthma or COPD where patients are unable to take a deep breath, the Kidney Deficiency must be addressed. Alternatively, the Lung Qi is responsible for descending actions and helps to regulate waterways; in this way, Lung Qi Deficiency can lead to urinary disorders.


The Lung energetic organ system is in charge of Qi. Where Qi goes, Blood goes. Therefore, the Lung contributes to the smooth flow of Blood in the body and healthy Blood and Qi circulation.

More on Lung Health and Chinese Medicine

The Lungs are part of the Metal Element and are paired with the Large Intestine. The skin and sinuses are implied when treating the Lungs in Chinese medicine. The Lungs are the organ closest to the exterior of the body and are susceptible to external invasions of pathogens such as colds and influenza. Links to other related articles about Lung health here:
Metal Element and Grief