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It cannot be stressed enough that Chinese medicine (CM) does not heal illnesses, but patterns of imbalance that do present with specific symptoms. Once the imbalance is removed, so are usually the symptoms. Sometimes, your CM practitioner might mention an affected organ, possibly causing all kinds of concerns with a new patient. But the name needs to be interpreted more as a placeholder for a certain set of symptoms, not necessarily involving the organ according to Western medicine.


In CM, the lungs are Yin organs and linked to your body hair and skin. So, if you have a skin condition, your practitioner is likely to needle a Lung acupuncture point.

The associated emotions are grief and depression. Think about how you find it hard to take a deep breath when you are sad; as if something is sitting on your chest.

Their sensory organ is, big surprise, the nose. The Yang partner organ of the Yin Lungs is the Large Intestine. The flavours of the Lungs are ‘pungent’ and ‘spicy’.

Here three examples of the many existing types of Lung imbalances:

- People with a weakness in their Lung Qi (energy) will experience a few of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, spontaneous sweating, a weak voice with dislike to speak, a pale complexion, a slight cough

- Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs: tight chest, dizziness, heaviness + feeling cold, cold hands, phlegmy cough with white/ watery sputum

Now compare it to the opposite pathology:

- Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs: tight chest, dizziness, heaviness + feeling hot, thirst, phlegmy cough with sticky yellow sputum, shortness of breath, wheezing

The last two imbalances highlight the difference between Western and Chinese medicine treatments. While both pathologies present with cough, tight chest, heaviness and dizziness and will be treated identically in Western medicine, CM would diagnose Heat in one and Cold in the other and would treat them completely differently. And that is why the CM ‘cough’ medication prescribed to your friend is unlikely to work for you!

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