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Chinese Herbs for Strengthing Lungs

By Maureen Santucci ; Updated August 14, 2017

One of the classic uses of Chinese herbs is to strengthen or tonify the body to thereby avoid illnesses. People who suffer from chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma or frequent colds, can benefit from Chinese herbal therapy. The goal of this type of treatment is to boost the immune system in general and the respiratory system in particular. In doing so, the patient will generally find that symptoms improve and that attacks occur less often. Herbs that tonify can be divided into separate categories depending on which vital substance is tonified: Qi, Blood, Yin or Yang.

Huang Qi

Huang Qi or Astragalus is one of the most commonly used herbs for strengthening or tonifying the Qi of the body. Qi is the word used in Chinese medicine to describe the energy that flows through the acupuncture meridians. More than just tonifying Lung Qi, this herb is used to strengthen the immune system, which has a close relationship to the lungs in Chinese medicine. Recent studies have found evidence that this herb may be effective in treating lung cancer.

Tian Men Dong

Tian Men Dong or Ophiogon Root is used to tonify the Yin of the lung. The Yin refers to the actual lung tissue. The lung has a tendency to be affected most by dryness, and this will injure the Yin of the lung and often manifest as a dry cough. Tian Men Dong has the effect of moistening the lungs and building up deficient lung tissue. When the respiratory system is susceptible to frequent illnesses or asthma, the Yin of the lung is often weak. Clinically, this herb can also be used for such illnesses as bronchitis and tuberculosis.

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Wu Wei Zi

Wu Wei Zi or Schisandra is an herb traditionally used in formulas for the lung. Rather than tonifying, it astringes. This means it helps the lungs to retain whatever strength they have. It is often used in conjunction with the tonic herbs so that while the tonics strengthen, the Wu Wei Zi protects the lungs from becoming more deficient. It has traditionally been used for such conditions as asthma and wheezing. Recent studies have also found that it raises the white blood cell count and boosts immunity.

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