In traditional medicine, the source of phlegm formation is undigested food. Therefore, if for any reason the process of digestion was not completely successful, the remains of the undigested food will manifest as phlegm.
Phlegm has typical qualities, it is sticky, heavy, wet and sometimes dense, slimy and at first mostly cold. Phlegm created from undigested food accumulates first in the stomach and intestines, but gradually will appear in other tissues of the body, especially in the mucus membranes (the membrane that coats the inside of the digestive, respiratory and urinary systems). Over time phlegm will penetrate deeper into the tissues and will accumulate also in joints, internal organs and the nerves system.
The phlegm spreading out through the body sticks to weak spots and vulnerable points of each person, causing stagnation and disturbance to the normal function of the body, until the body cannot tolerate this disturbance, and an acute disease emerges for the purpose of eliminating the accumulated phlegm.
The main causes for indigestion and phlegm formation
The principle cause for indigestion is that the digestive power is relatively weak in comparison to the amount and quality of food that was eaten. This is a condition of comparative over eating.
A person that eats small quantities of food, but his/her digestion is very weak, or a person that has a strong digestion but eats very large quantities of food, in both situations part of the food will not be sufficiently digested and phlegm will form.
Other reasons for phlegm formation are:
- When food is very heavy, cold, sticky, dense.
- When the food is not tasty and delicious.
- Inappropriate food combinations.
- Eating for reasons different from appetite.
- Eating before the previous meal was completely digested.
- Eating carelessly, distracted, on the way, inattentive.
- Eating fast, insufficient masticating.
- Drinking cold water during digestion period.
- Falling asleep immediately after meals.
- Even quality food in normal amount will not be digested if eaten during anxiety, worry, sorrow, fear, anger or tiredness.
Signs and symptoms for phlegm accumulations:
- Bad smell (feces, urine, and sweat).
- Weakness, lassitude, laziness.
- A need to doze, a sensation of heaviness.
- Lack of initiative, enthusiasm, alertness.
- Difficulty to speak and express one self.
- Bags under the eyes.
- Cloudy recognition, confusion.
- Discharge of mucus.
- Lack of appetite, bad taste in the mouth, nausea, heaviness in the abdomen, constipation.
- Lack of sweating.
- Stuffed nose, obstructed breathing.
- Cold extremities.
- A feeling of sickness.
- A gradual buildup of phlegm in the tissues makes the body stiff as a stick over time.
Any of these symptoms may appear in different conditions, not related to phlegm. In order to diagnose these symptoms as expression of phlegm, it must be investigated and proven by questioning regarding life style, eating habits, body diagnosis and other diagnostic tools.
Acute phlegm disease – viral and bacterial infection
Phlegm accumulated in the mucus membrane disturbs the normal function of the tissue. When the bodies normal methods of elimination (feces, urine, sweat, breath) fail to evacuate and eliminate the phlegm, our body “invites” an external cleaning agent (virus or bacteria) in order to separate and breakdown the sticky phlegm from the tissue. During the breakdown process of the agent upon the phlegm,our immune system encircles the inflammation site in order to prevent from the agent to spread to other parts of the body. Once the agent is done, the immune system “swallows up” the agent and the broken down phlegm, and secrete it out of the body as discharge, mucus or snot. During this process will appear signs of phlegm, fever, lack of appetite, body aches and weakness. Acute inflammation is most common for the respiratory tract, digestive tract or urinary tract.
Basic principles for treating acute phlegm inflammations:
In order to help the body get rid of the phlegm, or more accurately, do not disturb the process, it is recommended to eat only as much as your appetite, or fast. Appropriate refraining from food will allow the body to refer all its resources for the cleaning process. For the same reason it is advised to stay relatively at ease and rest, although in some situations, for certain strong people, exercise can serve to discharge the phlegm and hasten recovery.
Also recommended during acute phlegm inflammations is to drink boiled water.The hot water helps to raise body temperature and clean the tissues of phlegm.
Aggravated acute phlegm inflammations:
If during acute phlegm inflammations one keeps eating inappropriately, hard to digest food or eating before the previous meal has been digested, a condition of toxic phlegm develops. The phlegm “sours” and symptoms are more severe, such as vomiting and diarrhea simultaneously.
Chronic phlegm diseases:
As a result of phlegm build up over years and/or repeated oppression of acute phlegm inflammations by erroneous treatment or medication, systemic phlegm diseases may result as autoimmune disease, blood vessel disease, nerves disorders, cancer etc…
Phlegm is not the sole reason for these systemic diseases, usually chronic illness also involves deficiencies and weakness.
There are situations when a person feels generally good with no signs or symptoms, and then an incident causes the outbreak of a systemic disease. The true cause was not the incident that fired up the outbreak, but a gradual buildup of phlegm over a long period of time.
Proper digestion power – the best preventative medicine
To prevent all the diseases caused by phlegm, one must nurture digestive strength and avoid actions or habits that may cause indigestion. This principle is a milestone in traditional medicine.