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Condition Index

The functions of the TCM Lungs


The Lungs govern Qi and respiration.  They also are closely related to the skin, therefore they are the organ that connects the human to the environment.  Lung Qi also helps the circulation of blood by the Heart by controlling the blood vessels and controlling the movement of body fluids or water passages.

The functions of the Lungs are:

     - Govern Qi and respiration

     - Control meridians and the 100 blood vessels

     - Control dispersing and descending

     - Regulate water passages

     - Control skin and hair

     - Open into the nose

     - Houses the Corporeal Soul (Po)

     - Effects dreams



Govern Qi and respiration


Lungs extract clean Qi from the air which combines with Gu (food) Qi from the Spleen.  This constant source of fresh clean Qi from the air ensures proper functioning of all the body’s physiological processes.

The Qi extracted from food by the Spleen is directed to the Lungs where it combines with the air to form Zong Qi.  This is why the chest is called the sea of Qi.  The Lungs then disperse Qi all over the body with the help of the Liver.  If this process is strong, the voice will be powerful, circulation will be good, energy will be high, and there will be strength in the limbs.  The Lungs are the most external of the Yin organs, this is why the Lungs are attacked during external pathogenic invasions.  The Lungs are also referred to as the most delicate organ in the body.


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Control meridians and the 100 blood vessels


The Lungs govern Qi, and Qi is essential for the Heart to circulate blood.  Both the Lungs and Heart control the circulation of blood in the blood vessels.  The Lungs however, also control the circulation of Qi (Ying) within the meridians.  Therefore the Lungs control the circulation of Qi in the blood vessels and meridians.  If Lung Qi is strong the circulation will be good and the limbs will be warm, if not the hands will be cold.


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Control dispersing and descending



The lungs disperse the defensive (Wei) Qi and body fluids all over the body between the skin and muscles.  If Lung Qi is weak this function will not be preformed optimally and susceptibility to external invasion is greater. 

The Lungs also spread body fluids to the skin to moisten and regulate the opening and closing of the pores and sweating.  Generally if the Lungs are being attacked by excessive pathogenic factors the pores will clog and there will be no sweat (Wind/Cold), if it is a case of Lung deficiency the pores will over relax and there will be spontaneous sweating.  If this particular function is impaired there may be accumulation of fluids under the skin and may result in facial edema.


As the uppermost organ, the Lungs are often referred to as the lid or roof.  This is why their Qi must descend.  Lung Qi must descend to communicate with the Kidneys so as to hold or grasp the Qi.  The descending term also refers to the Lungs sending fluids down to the Kidneys and Bladder.  If Lung Qi does not descend there will be accumulation in the chest resulting in cough, difficulty breathing, and tightness in the chest.  If the Large Intestine (the Lungs paired organ) does not receive enough Qi from the Lungs it may not have enough energy to defecate or move properly.  The retention of urine can sometimes be attributed to the malfunction of the Lungs.



1) D & D ensures the entering and exiting of Qi, regulate breathing and the exchange of Qi between the body and the environment

2) D & D ensures that every organ gets its nourishment from Qi, blood and body fluids.  It also keeps fluids from stagnating in the body

3) D & D prevents the scattering and exhaustion of Lung Qi


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Regulate water passages


As discussed above, the regulation of water passages relates to the fluid dispersed under the skin, the pore regulation, and the fluids flowing down to the Kidneys and Bladder.  The Kidneys vaporize the fluids to send the pure parts back up to the Lungs and the impure parts to the Bladder for excrement.  Therefore, the Lungs play a major role in the excretion of body fluids through urine and sweat.


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Control skin and hair


As discussed above, the Lungs take care of the skin all over the body with nourishment and moisture.  Therefore, if the Lungs functioning is healthy the skin will be healthy.  When the Lungs are referred to as controlling the hair it is referring to the body hair.  It is nourished through the same process as the skin.  The controlling of the pores is also a Lungs function of controlling the skin.


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Open into the nose


The nose is the opening of the Lungs, respiration occurs through it.  If Lung Qi is strong, breathing will be clear and the sense of smell will be sharp.  This is why when the Lungs are invaded by external pathogens the nose clogs, there can be sneezing, and smell is inhibited.  If there is heat in the Lungs there may be bleeding, and the sense of smell may be lost.  It should be noted that the Spleen also effects the sense of smell.


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Houses the Corporeal Soul (Po)


The Lungs house the Corporeal soul.  This is the Yin (material, physical) part of the human soul or spirit.  The Corporeal soul allows for sharp movement and keen sensations.  Sadness or grief obstructs the movement of the Corporeal soul, it is known that these emotions consume the Lung Qi and effect breathing.  This is why treatment of the Lungs is so important when treating sadness or depressive states.  Maciocia recommends the use of Lung 7 (lieque) and BL 42 (pohu) to treat the corporeal soul. 


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Effects dreams


“When the Lungs are I excess, one dreams of weeping.”  “If the Lungs are deficient, one will dream of white objects ar about bloody killings.  If the dream takes place in the autumn, one will dream of battles and war.” (Simple Questions).  “When the Lungs are in excess, one will have dreams of worry and fear, or crying and flying…if the Lungs are deficient, one will dream of flying and seeing strange objects made of gold or iron.” (Spiritual Axis).

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