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Lung HealthGreen icon of person with healthy lungs

In Western medicine, the lungs are principally regarded as respiratory organs responsible for oxygenating the blood and removing carbon dioxide. Their functions extend to warming and humidifying inhaled air, facilitating gaseous exchange, and filtering harmful substances (West, 2012, Respiratory Physiology: The Essentials).

On the other hand, traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) posits that the lungs govern Qi and respiration. According to TCM, lungs amalgamate clean air with grain Qi—energy derived from consumed food and water—as well as body fluids and spleen essence. This complex mixture is distributed throughout the body to provide nourishment and moisture (Wu et al., 2017, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences). Furthermore, TCM ascribes additional roles to the lungs: controlling channels and blood vessels, governing skin and hair—including sweat regulation—and being susceptible to emotional states like sadness (Li et al., 2019, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine). Both the nose and hair are considered manifestations of lung health in TCM (Cheng et al., 2014, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine).

Simplistic drawing showing lungs and windpipe with green leaves in the background.

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