5 Herbs to Strengthen your Lungs
Have you ever forgotten to change the air filter on your AC or your air purifier for an extended period of time? What you find is a dirty filter, filled with dust, mold spores, pollen and other airborne particles. So disgusting to look at it, you hurry to dispose of it. Well, our lungs are a living air-purifier, involuntarily filtering out minute gas particles at a rate of 20+ times per minute. It inhales clear qi (energy) from the external environment and exhales waste qi from the internal. We call this O2/CO2 exchange "getting rid of the stale and taking in the fresh." Our pectoral or Lung qi is formed not only by the the inhaled clear qi but also by essential qi of food and water, via digestion. The lungs distribute or disperse this qi and moisture through its intimate relationship with the circulatory system. In fact, at rest we inhale close to 11,000 liters per day. Compare that to the approx. 8,000 liters of blood pumped through the heart each day. Its hard to imagine the hefty load our body is capable of handling on a daily basis, but it does so to support our immune system, oxygenate our whole body, and to distribute warmth and moisture to our lower organs, muscles, skin, and hair. Similarly to a guard standing post at the entrance of a fortress, our skin and hair is the first line of defense. This is why fever and chills are the first exterior symptoms to appear, as the skin is activated by the immune system. These factors are dependent upon optimal lung function especially in adequate qi supply and its ability to regulate fluid metabolism. It is also important to mention that the nasal and throat passageways of respiration are directly affected by the state of the lung qi, causing symptoms of congestion, inhibited smell, loss of voice, hoarseness, and inflammation. Additional functions of the lungs include regulation of blood pH and the filtering out of small clots from veins, making it a major balancing system for the heart.
1. Astragalus Root-Huang Qi: This adaptogenic herb strengthens both the lung and digestive qi. Warms the interior, stabilizes sweating, and regulates fluid metabolism. It has strong anti-oxidative, antiviral and hypotensive ability. Used when expressing fever, spontaneous sweats, dislike of cold temperatures, shortness of breath, loose stool, poor appetite, weakness in the limbs, and desire for warmth. These symptoms are all aggravated by exertion. Also applicable for angina, congestive heart failure, hypertension and myocardial infarction.
2. White Mulberry Leaf-Sang Ye: It clears and disperses heat from the lungs, and cools extreme heat from the liver. Mulberry is high in quercetin, B vitamins, and anti-oxidants. It has anti-inflammatory and blood sugar lowering properties. Used for headaches, fever, dry, hacking cough, dry, sore throat and sinuses, irritability, redness of the eyes, and can be accompanied by lightheadness, dizziness and vertigo.
3. Lily Bulb-Bai He: Is an herb that clears heat, draining it downwards and lubricates the lungs, it also clears the heart. Lily bulb is rich in vitamins, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and has antitussive properties. Used for cough with blood tinged mucus, wheezing, dry and sore throat, hot hands and feet, nightsweats, accompanied by insomnia, palpitations, anxiety, irritability.
4. Perilla Fruit-Zi Su Zi: Perilla redirects rising energy downward, transforms and disperses phlegm, and warms the lungs. It acts as an antispamodic to calm wheezing, as well as lubricates and promotes peristalsis of the large intestine. Used for chest tightness, short, labored breathing, cough with watery phlegm, weakness and pain of the lower back, edema of the legs, and fatigue.
5. Fritillaria Bulb- Bei Mu: Another herb which transforms thick, yellow phlegm, but cools and moistens the lungs. It also drains excess heat from the heart, stops cough, disperses clumping, reduces cysts, tumors, and abscesses. It has antitussive, expectorant, and purgative properties. Used for unproductive cough, dry, thick and yellow mucus, chest pain, lung or breast abscesses, accompanied by insomnia, anxiety, and irritability.