Ways to Wellbeing, April 2020

The world is no longer taking for granted the right to breathing easy. This edition offers practical ways of how we can keep your lungs in good health using Chinese Medicine. Wishing you Strength, Deb and Al

The Lungs and Immunity

It has been an extraordinary few weeks of surveying England’s unfamiliar lockdown landscapes, set against its’ familiar oh so green and pleasant land.

On the one hand our horizons have contracted, either to our local neighbourhood or window vistas. And on the other, they have stretched beyond the naked eye, as we survey nations on newsreels. We are living both more singular local lives and yet in global solidarity.

We are able to connect to the ancient immediacy of nature as we walk local and slow; and connect to each other over thousands of miles with lightning fast technology. Our human form is both being set apart and united by a small virus; a strange beauty in our isolated interconnectedness.

As much of our everyday Life is being closed down, it is important the we keep our lungs and breath open and clear to meet what challenges blow our way. The Lungs create a pathway between our environment and our body. They are particularly connected to our protective energy called Wei Qi, our immunity, which is the energy that defends us against invasions such as viruses, bacteria and pollens.

We should remember sometimes, to breathe deep from the diaphragm and exhale slowly.

Essential oils can help us breathe more clearly and some have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. We recently attended a seminar by Josephine Spilka, an Acupuncturist Aromatherapist, who suggested the following oils.

Eucalyptus helps dissolve phlegm. Tea Tree allows the lungs to open up and release invasions. Sweet Basil and Peppermint helps clear our sinuses. Lavender is calming and cools the chest; when relaxed our body is open to healing quicker. And a combination of Thyme, Citronella, Clove and Palma Rosa can help ward off infection.

If you are pregnant please check with a qualified aromatherapist before using any oils. We recommend using a diffuser or oil burner. Alternatively, you could do a steam inhalation, one drop at a time. We do not recommend putting oils directly on your skin as they may cause a irritation.

The Lungs are associated, in Chinese Medicine, with grief and loss, but also respect and inspiration. Many of us are suffering from the loss of our freedom and grieving the loss of human life. But many of us are also opening up to, and becoming more respectful of, the truly precious things in life and the preciousness of life itself.

Food as Medicine

In Chinese Medicine the Lung governs Qi (Energy). When our Lung energy is strong, our immunity is strong. In Chinese medicine the Lungs energy is associated with Quality and Respect.


One way we can nourish our lungs is through food. With some food shortages and longer queues, online and virtual, we are becoming more respectful and appreciative of our meals and the quality of life they bring to us. If we are well nourished we are better able to fight off infections. There are certain foods that will help strengthen the lungs and others that need to be avoided.

A diet rich in fresh vegetables is  important. Golden orange vegetables are rich in beta carotene which helps protect the surface of the mucus membranes of the body improving immune functioning.  The chlorophyll in dark green vegetables helps to inhibit viruses and help rid the body of  environmental pollutants. Carrots, pumpkin, broccoli, parsley, kale and barley grass are examples. The lungs are said to benefit from good grains, especially millet and barleys. They also need low fat protein such as tofu, beans and white meat. Some white food are said to be of benefit, such as radishes and mushrooms.

The lungs need to remain clear and uncongealed. Some foods cause phlegm. Dairy products, sugars, bananas cold foods and drinks , orange juice and greasy foods including peanut butter, are the main culprits and should be eaten sparingly. Goat’s milk is more digestible than cows and less phlegm forming. Avoid peanuts but other nuts butters are ok; and  pears and grapefruit juice help to resolve the phlegm.


If we become sick, with any kind of cold or flu, we need to keep our fluids ups and warm the body, so we can circulate our Wei Qi and push the invasion out. Looking after ourselves at the early stages, usually means we can avoid becoming very unwell.

Eating warm, wet foods such as soups and stews are easily digested and a way of keeping our fluids up. 

If we are feeling cold, which we often feel at the start of a virus, the food can be flavoured with pungent and warming ingredients, that helps us to sweat, which is one way to get rid of the virus. Garlic , Scallions, Leeks, Spring Onions , Black Pepper, Cinammon  and Ginger are examples.

If we are feeling hot, often once the virus has taken a hold, then we can add things they will help cool the body , such as radish, seaweed, and cabbage.

If we have phlegm then Basil and Thyme are useful herbs to add.

Eating wet breakfasts,  such as porridge made with for eg oats, rice or millet is a beneficial way to start the day.


Prior to the world of lemsip and antibiotics to power us through illness, healers have told us that Rest and Fluids was the way to stay and remain well.

There are already cases of the virus re occurring, possibly as the person has not recuperated for long enough. We see reoccurrence of illnesses  and post viral  fatigue in many patients who have rushed back to work after not being well. 

Whenever recovering from any illness, relax and appreciate your food; eat and drink well and at regular intervals; pace yourself and  REST. The prescription is not a luxury. It’s an “essential” journey.

Hay Fever

The Joy of Spring is here and that means the Horror of Hay Fever time for so many of you. And we know you have to come to rely upon preseason prevention acupuncture and in-season symptom relief acupuncture.

Research consistently shows that regular acupuncture is as effective as anti-histamines, but without the side effects. As we are unable to needle you, Al has made a video showing you how to locate a very effective point called ‘Large Intestine 4’ or ’Hegu’ in Chinese. This point should never be used if you are pregnant.

Although on the hand, it has a direct link to the face. It is located on both hands on the large muscle between the thumb and first finger. If you squeeze your thumb and index finger together it will make the muscle stand out. Start by gently squeezing this muscle. You can start with just 30 seconds if you are very sensitive, but most people will be fine with 3 to 5 minutes on each hand. If you want some relaxation as well, try to concentrate on the breath and relax. To help with severe hay fever you can press these points up to 5 times a day.

Remember to be safe. Listen to your body and stop if you have any adverse reactions. If you press too hard you may bruise yourself.

Here’s a short video from Al to show you what to do.

These articles were written by Deb Heberlet and Ala Hessari © 2020

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