The lung system also governs the nasal passages and skin which can be prone to dryness. A good way to maintain healthy skin is dry brushing. Using a natural fiber brush start at the extremities (feet and hands) and brush up the limbs towards the centre of the body. This helps stimulate blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. If the lung energy is circulating well it can protect the body from illness, similar to the immune system in Western medicine. To keep the lung system strong exercise outdoors, incorporate breathing exercises or breath awareness into your daily routine. Exercises or stretches that help to open up the chest and ribcage are also beneficial, such as side stretching.
Although not TCM remedies I do recommend taking vitamin D daily as it has many health benefits and in the fall and winter we just don't get enough from the sun. Using the neti pot is great to keep nasal passages clear, remove any particles which may induce congestion as well as prevent dryness. It can be a little awkward to use at the beginning finding the right technique, salt concentration and water temperature.
Acupuncture of course can help regulate the lung system or treat symptoms that arise. Two common points are Large Intestine 4 and Large Intestine 20. LI4 is between the thumb and forefinger. It is a versatile point and can be used for any conditions related to the head such as nasal congestion or headaches. LI20 is beside the nostril, massaging that point can help relieve congestion. Herbal formulas can also help strengthen the Lung system. Yu Ping Feng San often called Jade Windscreen is a frequently used prescription. It is a simple and highly effective formula of only 3 herbs including Huang Qi, commonly known as Astragalus. Although some people will take astragalus on its own it is more effective taken in combination with Bai Zhu (White Atractylodes) and Fang Feng (Siler). Together these herbs which help with congestion, open the nasal passages and strengthen the protective nature of the lungs to prevent illness.
Eating pears and apples are a good way to moisten the lungs while adding scallion, ginger or basil to cooking can help circulate lung energy. Other beneficial foods are tofu, radish, asparagus, celery, rice and almonds. Using essential oils such as cedar, tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary are good for colds while bergamot, geranium and jasmine are good for regulating emotions at this time of year.
Nettle and chamomile both have natural antihistamines and can be taken as teas in the case of allergies. Local, raw honey contains local pollen therefore eating the honey exposes your body to small doses subsequently reducing the reaction of your body to the pollen. However if you do get a cold or allergies with congestion it is best to avoid dairy products, fried foods and refined sugar as these foods can cause dampness in the body. Dampness in this case is essentially phlegm/congestion/mucus. Many home remedies can be incorporated together such as adding pears to you diet and eucalyptus to your bath or a diffuser.
Please comment below on what remedy works best for you or share any other alternatives you may have. If you have any questions about the material presented here email firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Foran is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Vancouver, Canada. Visit her online to learn more about traditional Chinese medicine and her Vancouver acupuncture practice.