Updated: Jul 6, 2021
The Lungs in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)
The Lungs are known as The Commanders of Qi (energy). They are part of a holistic system and are critical to good health and well-being. Lungs provide optimal elimination, contribute to harmony, and provide amazing benefits both physical and emotional.
The Lungs Work - Fun Facts
They are the largest organ of elimination, eliminating 70% of all the toxins. The primary toxin that they eliminate is carbon dioxide.
The lung capacity of an adult can hold approximately 4 to 6 litres of air. We only breathe in about 0.5 litres with each breath. An average adult will breath 7 litres of air every minute.
Lungs contain approximately 2,400 kilometres of airways and 300 to 500 million air sacs (alveoli), if you stretched all of the air sacs they would be about the size of four 18-wheeler lorries parked next to each other.
If we were to unravel, roll out and stretch The Lungs themselves they would cover over 200 square metres which is about the size of a tennis court!
The Breath – Conscious and Unconscious
We breathe both consciously and unconsciously meaning that if we don’t think about it the body will carry on breathing OR if we think about it, we can control the breath. Unlike other organs that we cannot control consciously, for example, we cannot think about and control our digestion, it just happens. Breath, on the other hand, can be controlled for relief, comfort, tranquility.
Lung Health and Strength = Good Immunity
Low immunity and Lung health are connected. The Lungs are passive organs, they do not breathe, expand or contract on their own, it is the work of all the muscles surrounding them, the intercostal muscles, the diaphragm, and the abdomen muscles contract, squeezing the lungs that causes them to empty and fill up again.
Strong Lungs – when The Lungs are strong
We generally have good immunity and tend to get ill less and when we do we are able to fight it off faster
Our bodies can do an amazing job of removing toxins and environmental debris.
We are assisted in other health areas such as Asthma, COPD, Sleep Apnea, colds, flu’s and other Lung related conditions
Weak Lungs – when The Lungs are weak
We generally have lower immunity, this mean we may get sicker much more often and find it difficult to fight things off.
When we have low immunity one of the best places to start is by increasing lung health and strength.
Metal, Minerals & Autumn
The Metal Element and Autumn are related in many ways. During Autumn plants and trees give the earth the minerals that are needed to sustain us – calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium, and molybdenum. The movement of metal is downwards – temperatures cooling down, leaves dropping, and in this way minerals are absorbed by the earth. These then become available to us through plant and animal sources, all of them originating from the hidden depth of the soil.
Metal makes tools and weapons. Knives are used for preparing vegetables, fish, meat and wood for fire. We even talk about budget cuts, tax cuts, surgeons cut away dead tissue. All implying reduction or a decrease, a falling away to preserve what is essential, so we can start to see the connection to Fall (Autumn).
Lung Emotions & The Colour White
Sadness and grief are associated with the lungs, since the movement of metal is downwards and so the emotions have falling energy. The dropping and decent of the leaves leads to decay and loss and now we can also start to see the connection to grief. This doesn’t necessarily mean the loss of a loved one but can also mean house, job, money or even an idea or a dream.
When we are sad the head is heavy, the shoulders round, the chest sinks and the lungs have less space to expand and so tend to hold on rather than let go.
The colour white is associated with The Lungs because in China and The East at times of grave ill health and mourning the colour white is worn.
Nose and Smell - Essential Relationship
The Metal Element also controls the nose and the nasal cavity. The first connection the Lungs have to fresh air is via the nose. The Nose detects and interprets smells. Watching animals use their nose for information is enlightening.
However the initial response to a smell is not always a practical response but an emotional one and leave long lasting impressions and are strongly linked to memories. It can also be linked in some way to intuition when we ‘Sniff out a situation’ or ‘Use your nose’ to be smart about something.
Emotions and Behaviour Patterns
When the Lungs are out of balance we feel the negative emotions of sadness, depression and grief. When they are in balance we feel more confident and courageous.
A person that resonates with the Autumn and the Metal Element likes to be neat, disciplined, methodical and precise. If the metal element becomes too strong this can present as restrictive and overly dogmatic, or if the metal element becomes too weak they may become sloppy and hypocritical.
Take Care of your Lungs and they will take care of you!
Give some TLC to your Lungs, make time for a few minutes each day to do some breath work, even 5 minutes has enormous benefits. Embarking on breath work (conscious breathing) will help you breath better when you are not thinking about it (unconscious). The more efficient The Lungs and the breath are the more immunity we will have and many other system in the body will work much more smoothly.
Take a breath. Smile at your Lungs and thank them for all their hard work and support!