It seems that this year so many patients have come in with very bad colds, lingering coughs and signs of bronchitis since their illnesses have gone deeper than normal. The “Prescriptions of the Golden Chest” in Chinese medicine talked about the inability to breathe and a constant cough due to hidden yin or sip cough. It was the first book that described these symptoms due to Phlegm. It indicated the main principle of treatment was to tonify the body’s Qi and in acute cases, expel the pathogen. If the pathogen is not resolved this can lead to a form of asthma, which can also lead to allergies. The main pathology in Chinese medicine is that the phlegm is stored in the Lungs and if the Lungs are not strong this can create an upward movement of Qi, which causes the phlegm to go up rather than down and creates something called rebellious Qi. Many factors can cause this including, weather, diet, wind, cold, emotional stress and overwork. In the American diet there are a lot of cold foods including cold drinks on ice, which can injure the Spleen energy and create a deficiency. This cold injures the Lungs also. Consumption of sour, sweet and greasy foods can contribute to the forming of Phlegm.
A weakened body condition can also lead to the formation of Phlegm. This can go back as far a someone having measles as a child, which is a long illness and can deplete the Lung-Qi. If one was to really look at their medical history they would probably be amazed at all of the illnesses which have taken place over a life time and realize that western medicine really didn’t handle building the system up and tonifying it after any of these illnesses. In fact they would realize that in many illnesses they were given antibiotics, which further breaks down the immune system and helps to perpetuate this entire cycle. The differentiation and treatment for each patient varies due to the medical history involved. It is my experience that many times certain patients who have a weak immune system seem to get sick more often and they are sicker for a longer period of time when it does occur.
Acute bronchitis is the easiest to treat and normally manifests with symptoms of phlegm lodged in the chest. Sometimes this becomes difficult to expectorate but it is characterized as hot phlegm, which is yellow or green. This corresponds to the Lung-Qi and the treatment responds well with Chinese herbs and acupuncture. An improvement can be seen within a few days. It is not necessary at this stage to ever take antibiotics. Chest infections, residual heat in the Lungs, Wind and wheezing can cause chronic conditions but will take longer to heal. The length of treatment will depend on the age of the patient, the duration of the illness and the severity of the disease. Chronic bronchitis should be treated by looking at the root problem and may take months rather than weeks to clear out. If a patient is willing to come long enough their illness will become totally resolved.
Lung-cough can persist for a long time and can be treated by looking at what other organ may be involved. Usually this cough is caused by the Spleen-Stomach not being able to move the phlegm through the system. The skin is also related to the Lungs so when an external pathogen enters the system such as Wind and Cold, it automatically progresses to the Lungs. When the Lungs are deficient or obstructed, the energy will fail to descend and will then repeatedly move upwards in the form of a cough. If the Phlegm is not dispersed it will create a continuous cough. If the Lungs are dried up from heat, the cough will be without Phlegm. At any rate, a cough is reversed Qi since it moves upward. The combination of interior and exterior Cold causes cough in the Lungs. The “Complete Book of Jing Yue” distinguishes cough caused by invasion of an external pathogenic factor due to internal disharmony. Worry is a frequent emotional cause of cough and affects the Lung directly. The acupuncture points vary according to the diagnosis. All Lung problems have the ability to go very deep into the system so it is always best to get treatments during the initial phase of symptoms although all ailments can be treated at all times and can be permanently cured.