The Lungs - Internal Organs (Zang Fu) in Chinese Medicine
[ LU | LI | ST | SP | HT | SI | BL | KI | PER | GB | LIV | Organ Relationships ]
Functions of the Lungs
The Lungs are called the "Lid of the Yin Organs"
- Rule Qi and Respiration
- Control the Channels and Blood Vessels (with the Heart)
- Control dispersing and descending
- Regulate and move the Water Passages
- Control skin, sweat glands and body hair (the "Exterior")
- Open into the nose
- House the Po (corporeal soul)
- Govern the voice
Governs Qi and Respiration
The first way that the Lungs govern Qi is by taking in air or Pure Qi and exhaling used, impure, or Dirty Qi. This constant exchange in the cycles of breathing maintain the correct function of all body's physiological processes that need Qi.
The Lungs are also responsible for the actual formation of Qi. Food Qi (Gu Qi) is taken by the Spleen and directed to the Lungs where it combines with inhaled air (with help from Yuan Qi of Kidneys) to form Zong Qi, which is also called Qi of the Chest or Gathering Qi. The Zong Qi regulates involuntary movement of Heart and Lungs in turn is nourished by the Qi of the Heart and Lung. The Lungs then spread this Qi all over the body
Simultaneously formed: "Upright" or "normal" Qi (Zhen Qi) which is divided into Ying and Wei parts.
Lungs open to the Exterior, hence are called the "Tender Organ" because they are vulnerable to attack by exogenous pathogens.
Controls Channels and Blood Vessels
Because govern Qi, which is essential to Heart to aid in Blood circulation. The Lungs and Heart are very closely linked (via Zong Qi). Lungs control circulation of Qi not only in Blood Vessels but in the channels. Weak Lung Qi results in Qi being unable to push the Blood to nourish various areas. Hence, e.g. cold limbs, especially cold hands.
Controls Dispersing and Descending
Lung spreads Wei Qi (defensive Qi) and Body Fluids all over body to area between skin and muscles (The Lungs are related to skin).
This ensures that Wei Qi equally distributed under skin to warm skin and muscles and protect body from exogenous pathogens (Symptoms of a "cold" = impairment of dispersing function: exterior Wind Cold obstructs skin, blocks pores and Qi circulation: Qi cannot be dispersed.
Lung spreads Body Fluids (Jin Ye) to skin in form of "mist" to moisten skin and regulate opening and closing of pores and sweating. In health, normal pore function and normal amount of sweating.
Lungs are uppermost Organ ("Lid of the Yin Organs"). Therefore their Qi descends to communicate with Kidney (which "holds down" the Qi).
Lungs also direct Body Fluids downward to Kidneys/Bladder. Impairment of descending function: Qi accumulates in chest (cough, asthma, stuffy chest, or accumulation of fluids; upper body edema).
Regulates Water Passages
- Lungs receive refined fluids from Spleen, reduce them to fine mist and "spray" them throughout Exterior under the skin (part of dispersing function). Fluids should be evenly spread and pores should be regulated: otherwise, fluids may accumulate: edema.
- Lungs are "upper origin of Water". Direct fluids down to Kidney and Bladder. Kidneys receive fluids and vaporize them, then send back up to Lung.
Controls Skin and Hair
See above: Lung nourishes skin and hair by spreading Fluids to skin. Impaired Lung function can result in malnourished body hair and skin. Lungs influence Wei Qi, which circulates in skin.
Opens into the Nose
Nose is the opening of the Lungs. Lungs govern sense of smell.
Houses the Po (Corporeal Soul)
Corporeal soul attached to body. Closely linked to breathing. Directly affected by sadness/grief which constrain its movement and affect breathing.
Lungs Govern Voice
Strength, tone and clarity of voice depend on Lung Qi (in health: like a bell). Weak Lung Qi = low voice.