Lung Dry Phlegm


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Lung Dry Phlegm tends to occur in older people, because it usually takes time to develop or acquire this syndrome.

That's because they've probably had Phlegm for so long that it's begun to dry out, become more sticky and difficult to budge.

Why has it dried out like this? Possibly because

  • of pre-existing Yin deficiency, which gives their system a continual tendency to mild Heat which dries things out, and/or
  •  because Phlegm, left to its own devices, eventually becomes drier, and/or 
  • they've had a series of illnesses that raise their temperature, incidentally drying the Phlegm or
  • because of a rotten diet: eating the wrong foods.

Although it can affect young people, Yin deficiency is more common as you grow older. 

A Rotten Diet

Most people are becoming aware of the importance of good food. (Time was when many doctors ignored diet, indeed discredited it as being in any way responsible for ill-health!)

Even a few years ago, doctors in many eminent university medical faculties received almost no lectures on diet, vitamins, minerals, protein and so on.

They couldn't see the point when their medicines were able so quickly to suppress symptoms.

However, they are catching up, though practitioners of Chinese medicine think doctors and Western nutritionists still have a long way to go. A very important omission in their education is the energy of food. For more about this read Nutrition.

Food manufacturers want increasing profits. They found that by adding more fat, salt, sugar and spices to food they sold more.

Quite apart from the devastating effects these had on obesity and other health problems, for people with a tendency to Phlegm, fats and spices also produce Heat.

The foods most responsible for developing Phlegm are dairy foods like milk and butter, and fat and greasy foods, such as found in a multitude of fast-foods, instant foods, crisps, roasted meat products, and many Asian dishes such as curries.

Heat dries, and that's what happens to Damp-Phlegm. As it dries, it becomes harder to shift and it becomes Dry-Phlegm. Just as a cook can 'reduce' liquids by gently boiling them for a time, making them thicker and more concentrated, so heat applied to Damp-Phlegm thickens and 'dries' it.

Just as that cook, if he forgets to check the cooking liquids, can end up with a glue-like congealed mess that is hard to clean (I speak from experience), so the Dry-Phlegm 'sticks' to the inside of the lungs and you get Lung Dry Phlegm.

Sticky Dry-Phlegm impedes the flow of oxygen, making the patient short of breath. Lacking oxygen, he has a pale complexion. With all that thick gunge in his chest, it feels heavy and oppressive.

For the same reason, lacking oxygen to aerate his blood and his brain, he gets confused and often dizzy.

How you Eat is just as important

Poor eating habits over a life-time, and even half a life-time, can contribute to Phlegm formation. For instance:

  • Continual snacking, giving no time for food to be digested before the Stomach receives the next tranch of stuff
  • Rushing meals
  • Eating while on-the-go
  • Eating while working
  • Irregular meals
  • Eating too much
  • Not chewing properly
  • Lack of awareness of the effect different foods have on us
  • Eating always while semi-recumbent and then not getting up to walk around afterwards
  • Returning to work too soon after eating
  • (The list is much longer than this, but you get the idea?)

Of course, we all do this from time to time, but if you do it frequently or always, then you will almost certainly end up with Phlegm, leading on to diseases caused by Phlegm, of which this syndrome is one.

Underlying this is a weak Spleen, unable to clear things away, from having too much bad food foisted on it.

Symptoms of Lung Dry Phlegm

  • Dry cough
  • Phlegm is difficult to hawk up and out from chest and throat 
  • Chest feels heavy and hard to expand
  • Shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Head feels confused and heavy
  • Easily gets dizzy
  • Dry throat
  • Pale complexion, often dry
  • Snoring
  • Pulse: slippery and fine
  • Tongue: swollen. Coating is sticky and dry.

What does your Acupuncturist Do?

If Lung Dry Phlegm is your syndrome, your acupuncturist will aim to

  • clear the Phlegm (easier said than done and this will involve assisting your Spleen energy to work better), and 
  • help your body moisturise itself;
  • nourish Lung Yin and
  • help your Lung Qi to descend again (because if Lung Qi can't descend, it comes up as coughing)
  • advise you on diet and other ways to Help Yourself, see below

How to Help Yourself

First, food!

If you've understood the above causes of Lung Dry Phlegm, you'll realise you need to:

  • Take advice and then eat the right foods, avoiding the wrong ones
  • Eat regular meals, taking time over them, chewing well, and then pausing for a few hours before eating again, and doing so preferably when hungry
  • Not over-eating
  • Always leave some space in your stomach at the end of the meal. This mean you usually forego the 'sweet' or 'pudding'.
  • Eating foods of the right energy (not too heating)
  • Taking enough fluids to allow your body to moisten and dissolve the dry Phlegm. However, drinking far more water than usual is not the way to do this because it puts too great a load on your Kidney Yang Qi. 

Second, Exercise!

If possible, move around for a few minutes after eating. Later, between meals, go for a walk. No need for major exertion! Just potter about, or walk for ten minutes, not ambling or window-shopping, but not hurrying either. When you walk, stand up straight! Don't stoop!

This helps your Lungs, encourages your Spleen and ensures that gravity helps food to descend.

It also exercises your Lungs. Exercise and the right nutrition and eating habits begin to clear Lung Dry Phlegm.

Exercises to keep your spine flexible would be good. This doesn't mean you should try extreme yoga poses - or not yet! But bending and stretching movements should gently test your limits each time. Hula Hoop Anyone? (Or read appendix 10 in my book " Qi Stagnation" for an easy, safe and wonderful way to keep your spine toned up, in just a couple of minutes a day.)

Third, Rest and Sleep!

If you aren't already Yin Deficient, you probably soon will be with the syndrome. Read the advice on Yin Deficiency

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