In Chinese Medical theory the lungs control respiration, dominate theqi, skin, and hair and are impacted by grief. Through the inhale the lungs take in fresh oxygen and energy from the external environment and through the exhale release waste build up from the internal body. This is known as "getting rid of the stale and taking in the fresh" and is why proper breathing is so important.
When the lung function is normal, respiration will be smooth and unobstructed. When the energy of the lungs is deficient there can be feeble speech, weak breathing patterns, shortness of breath, and general lassitude.
The lungs distribute energy to the rest of the body via the inhalation as well as assisting in warming and moistening the muscles, skin, and hair.
The lungs control the skin and hair because these serve as a protective barrier to the internal body controlling the wei qi or immune system. Because the lungs work so intimately with the skin and hair they are often all affected when an imbalance takes place.
We've already discussed how the lungs are affected during colds in this previous blog. What I'd like to touch on today is how the lungs are impacted during periods of grief.
Grief can happen during any transitional period of life, not just when experiencing grief of a loved one. Often times when we are making changes in our lives either through moving into a new living space, starting a new school program, ending a relationship, or are a part of a loved ones death the lung can be weakened, especially if the transition is sudden or there is resistance.
Examples (names have been changed to protect patient confidentiality)
When Jane's father was dying from cancer her hair started falling out and would grow back smelling burnt and unhealthy. Ten years later she still has not fully grieved the loss of her father and suffers from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, dry skin, acne, and other nervous system conditions. In this case the lung has been weakened over the initial grief of her father and years of repression and now the lung is not able to bring in or distribute energy efficiently. Her breath is shallow and her posture is slumped forward. When shereceives acupuncture she reports a sensation of being cleaned out and feels lighter with less physical pain.
Lauren spent years at a job where she was under appreciated but did not leave because of her fear of change. One day she discovered that her position would be taken over by someone else and she was forced into leaving. Although on one level she was happy to be free of this job, it was a scary transition. Instead of taking time to grieve the loss of this job she dove into projects around the house and diligently looked for a new job. Her resourcefulness paid off and she found new employment quickly. However, through this tumultuous time in her life she developed a sinus infection and tension increased in her upper body especially around her assessory breathing muscles. Her grief finally caught up with her and her body forced her to rest. Her sinus infections were recurrent for almost 3 months until she had made peace with her old job and settled into her new one.
Especially during times of transition and stress remember to take a time out and a deep breath. Refer back to the blog Change Your Breath, Change How You Feel for breathing exercises and a more in depth explanation about how important proper breathing is.
Whether it is environmental changes during seasonal transitions or life cycle changes our delicate organ the lung is most affected. Acupuncture can assist the body, mind, and emotions to gracefully move through these transitions offering not only a place for your body to heal but a quiet time of reflection as well.
Sarah Zender LAc
Neighborhood Acupuncture Place (NAP)
230 Florence St
Crystal Lake IL 60014