Chinese traditional medicine refers to the lungs as canopies that govern respiration and regulate water passages of the body. Lung health is pivotal to balancing our ‘qi’ as the invasion of external pathogens can cause prolonged coughing. In TCM, prolonged coughs weaken the lungs and cause shortness of breath, eventually weakening the entire immune system. The lung’s regulation of water passages circulates bodily fluids, therefore, dysfunction can result in water retention and urination irregularities. As summer comes to a close, fall brings lung problems for many, with cooler air and increased pollutants triggering nose and sinus airway constriction. Autumn also comes with the forthcoming cold and flu season, as tendencies of catching respiratory illnesses this time go deeper than what is obvious from weather changes.
In TCM, our bodily energies can become imbalanced and diseased, therefore, the goal of health is to regulate such energy. Fall marks the peak of lung energy, not the organ but rather the qi (essence) of the lung. The energy flow of qi then flows through the body via energy highways called meridians. In addition to ancient medicine, lung season has grown to be of pivotal importance as COVID-19 continues to be a revolving threat to public health. Our collective understanding of respiratory virus transmission and health has changed immensely. Therefore, it is of utmost importance, both for preventative and seasonal justifications, to value and concentrate on lung health especially during the transition to fall.
Ingredients to Boost Lung Health
In the principles of TCM, perilla leaves are warm and their main functions are to dispel wind colds, regulate qi, and circulate vital energy that maintains body homeostasis. The plant’s leaves, seeds, and stems are used for various applications in traditional medicine since its biological activities have a powerful range of antioxidant, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotection effects.
The presence of perilla oil has been shown to suppress the production of a chemical mediator responsible for allergic and inflammatory responses. Specifically for allergies, studies have found that perilla oil has led to a reduction in asthmatic symptoms due to its alpha-linolenic acid effects, a term that refers to essential fatty acids that our bodies need for good health in reducing and preventing inflammatory conditions.
The reishi mushroom, also known as Lingzi (灵芝), has been documented as a medicinal plant as far as 2,400 years ago as depicted in ancient Chinese and Japanese artwork. Representing a combination of spiritual potency and the essence of immortality, the reishi mushroom has been touted as a symbol of success, longevity, and wellbeing.
Reishi mushrooms restore hormonal balance to regulating immune system activities, aiding in lowering inflammation and inhibiting cell proliferation. For lung health, reishi mushrooms have an active ingredient of triterpenes which can lower allergic reactions because of how they interact with the immune system: strengthening digestive organs, protecting gut lining, lowering inflammation, improving oxygen utilization, and improving liver functions.
Mint has been touted as the strongest cooling herb in traditional Chinese medicine, making it an excellent treatment for Wind-Heat invasive colds and flu with headaches, fever, and upset stomachs. Mentions of mint reach as far back into Greek mythology and ancient Chinese folk art and literature.
Mint leaves have a key active ingredient of rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant that is capable of blocking inflammatory responses. For these reasons, menthol is commonly found in inhalers and therapeutic balms as a respiratory aid. In TCM, mint is often used in tandem with other heat-clearing herbs to reinforce the function of expelling exterior bacteria and toxic heat.
Daikon radishes have long been touted as a superfood in many Asian cultures. The radish has the ability to support the body as the seasons change to colder weather. Nutritionally dense while low calorie, daikons are a sweet and mildly spicy ingredient with a satisfying crunch. When cooked, daikon becomes more sweet and it transitions into a more tender and mellow root.
Radish in TCM is considered as a cooling food, balancing unwanted heat that accumulates imbalances in our qi. The radish has the ability to rebalance the digestive system, boost immunity, and cleanse the body. TCM believes that the radish aligns with the lungs and large intestine in supporting the release of our mind, body, and spirit in the autumn.
Ginseng has been recorded for its use as a medicinal plant since 3,000 years ago. Chinese emperors increased demand for the herbal root, as they were even willing to pay for it in gold. This demand formed the growth of a new industry, attracting diggers of wild ginseng and cultivation experimentation.
In TCM, ginseng has been proven to improve lung function and quality of life through several systematic medical reviews. Known as the king of tonic herbs, ginseng works to increase blood circulation, decrease vascular resistance, and help oxygen delivery to muscles. It also has been reported to have anti-allergic properties, providing benefits for those with asthma.
Implementation of Key Ingredients
These powerful trio of plants/herbs can be incorporated into the way we eat and supplement our nutritional needs. Mint is quite universal to regular grocery shops and makes for great dried tea which can be taken daily. Daikon radishes are readily available in seed oil form or at local Asian grocery stores. Reishi mushroom and ginseng supplements have grown in popularity and are available in health food stores or online in capsule form.
Other Areas for Improving Lung Health
With specific attention to fall, the climate tends to grow drier. While lungs mostly prefer to be dry, too much and consistent dryness disrupts the proper functions of our lungs. This leads to the fall annoyances of chapped skin, scratchy throats, and dry nasal passages, all of which are signs of lung dryness. Certain types of exercise and foods can prevent seasonal dryness and promote holistic hydration.
- Cardiovascular Exercise can increase lung capacity with consistent activity.
- Aerobic activities like walking, running, and rope jumping can provide the movement that your heart and lungs need to function efficiently.
- Muscle strengthening activities, like weights or Pilates, can build core strength that tones breathing muscles.
With specific attention to fall, the climate tends to grow drier. While lungs mostly prefer to be dry, too much and consistent dryness disrupts the proper functions of our lungs. This leads to the fall annoyances of chapped skin, scratchy throats, and dry nasal passages, all of which are signs of lung dryness. Certain foods can prevent seasonal dryness and promote holistic hydration.
Eat According To The Season
- Healthy oils and fats like avocado, nuts and seeds, sweet pumpkins, apples and squash, which help build the fluids in our bodies.
- Eat fewer cold, uncooked foods in exchange for more warm, cooked foods. Switch from salads to soups and steamed vegetables such as winter squash, winter peas, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and yams.
- Include lung tonifying foods like ginger, onion, garlic, pears, walnuts, miso, almonds, asparagus, broccoli, apricots, bananas, apples, plums, and grapes
Perilla Leaf + Reishi + Mint = NOOCI’s Noo Air Formula
As we transition into fall, the trifecta of perilla leaf, reishi mushroom, and mint are reminders of natural ingredients that have aided seasonal changes in our bodies for centuries. For convenience and optimal wellness, NOOCI has incorporated all of these ingredients into Noo Air, a proprietary, non-drowsy herbal formula that helps provide relief from common nasal annoyances that come with the changing of seasons. While fall tends to come with daily allergy drugstore medications, Noo Air works to balance your body through preventative and holistic ingredients that work together to maintain a balance throughout all seasons.