The Lung is a light, fragile organ that is unable to tolerate extreme dryness, cold or heat, and prefers to be moistened. Lung Qi spreads over the whole body via its dispersing and descending functions. It stimulates or maintains the functions of the internal organs and vital activities of the whole body.

The weakness of Lung-Qi is often seen in exposure to seriously polluted air, extreme changes of climate, poor nutrition, chronic diseases and poor constitution. It often occurs in people with poor development of the Lung from lack of physical exercise. When Lung-Qi is deficient, its dispersing and descending functions become weak. Patients may suffer from shortness of breath, which is worse on exertion, a low and weak voice and reluctance to talk. When the Lung Qi is too weak to control the pores and protect the body, spontaneous sweating, a propensity to catch colds and a common cold of long duration are often present. If the Lung-Qi fails to spread the fluid as mist in the upper part of the body, there may be cough with phlegm. Weakness, fatigue and dislike to speak are other symptoms of Lung Qi deficiency as there is not sufficient energy to stimulate the vitality and the speech.

A sedentary lifestyle weakens Lung Qi. Yoga, Tai Chi, working-out, aerobic exercises, or any other physical activities which engages the cardiovascular system strengthen Lung-Qi. The vitality of Lung-Qi is directly related to one’s ability to fight pathogens; especially those that are airborne such as the cold and the flu. When a person constantly catches other people’s cold, lung Qi is often deficient. The same diagnosis applies when someone never seems to heal from a long-standing cold he/she caught a while back. The reason being, again, that the person’s weakened lung-Qi was not able to fight back, or return the body to a state of homeostasis and health.

On a psycho-emotional level, the principal emotions which are related to Lung-Qi are sadness, worry, and grief. In fact, the ancient Chinese texts state that prolonged sadness disperses and depletes the energy of the lungs. While prolonged worry stagnates Lung-Qi. This observation by ancient Chinese doctors confirms that when we worry a lot our breathing is shallow; and therefore the oxygen we inhale is limited. This of course, only contributes to make things worse for us.

Symptoms and signs of Lung Qi deficiency

Shortness of breath, wheezing from fatigue or exertion


Respiratory allergies

Runny nose or stuffy sinuses

Prone to common colds and flu

Frequent lingering colds, coughs, laryngitis

Morning attacks of coughing or sneezing

Constant phlegm in chest or throat

Spontaneous sweating

Easily fatigued by exertion

Dislike speaking

Dryness and tightness of mucous membranes or skin

Sensitivity to wind, cold and dryness

Easily disappointed or offended

Recommended diet for Lung Qi deficiency

The diet objective is to supplement the Qi of the lungs with foods and preparation methods that tonify the Lung Qi and improve the absorption of food. The diet should include primarily cooked food and restrict cooling or mucus forming foods. Basically the diet for tonifying Lung Qi is very similar to the diet for tonifying Spleen Qi.  

Cooked grains: rice, sweet rice and oats

Carbohydrate rich vegetables: carrot, winter squash, pumpkin, yam, potato, sweet potato, parsnip, turnip

Fresh ginger is a great Lung (and Spleen) tonic

Useful herbs are Elecampane root (InulaHelenium) and licorice root (GlycyrrhizaGlabra)


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