One of the unique functions of the lungs is that it has a direct impact on the skin. How?
The lungs receive fluids from the spleen and spread them to the skin, all over the entire body. This gives the skin (and to a large degree, the hair) nourishment and moisture. If the lungs are strong and healthy, the skin will have luster, the hair will be glossy and sweating will be normal. If the lungs are deprived of nourishment, the skin will be dry, often cracking and/or flaking.
There are 2 broad ways of keeping the lungs, and thus the skin, strong and moist – the direct way and the indirect way and both are very important.
Keeping the Lungs Strong in a Direct Fashion
There are a number of foods and herbs that have a direct impact on the lungs themselves. At the top of the list food-wise is Asparagus, specifically, the tips of the asparagus. Aside from being one of the very best immune boosting foods known, Asparagus tips are strengthening and moistening to the lungs. Eating them either raw or lightly steamed is ideal. However, boiling or steaming for an extensive period of time will remove about 90% of the nutrition from this wonderful vegetable.
In terms of herbs, the best of best for lungs/skin connection is arguably one called Rhizoma Atractylodis. Atractylodis is a powerful herb for both the lungs and the spleen and is used for digestive issues as well. It is often combined with other substances based upon a person’s unique chemistry. It is inexpensive and found at most health food stores and places that sell herbs.
I have used this quite a bit with patients and it is certainly in the Top 10 most commonly used and most effective herbs I have ever come across. It is safe and has a nice “side benefit” of improving endurance, especially for runners and swimmers. This of course is not surprising — strengthen the lungs and you strengthen endurance.
Keeping the Lungs Strong in an Indirect Fashion
I mentioned 2 of the best substances for the lungs themselves but there is another issue that needs to be addressed here. When the Spleen is strong, typically the lungs will be strong (and vice-versa). When the spleen is weak, often the lungs will be weak(er) also. Therefore, to keep the lungs and the skin glowing, keep the spleen strong.
Let me first say that the “best” or at least quickest way to WEAKEN the spleen is over-indulgence in sweets/sugar. Please note that this includes simple carbs (like bread). Excessive sweats weaken the spleen, which has an indirect effect on the lungs and skin.
To strengthen the spleen, any of the yellow, brown or golden, fruits, vegetables and (to a much lesser degree) grains. Pineapple, yellow squash, apples etc., are strong tonics for the spleen. The herb Hyssop can be used as a preventive agent too. It is the one I have used most with patients as a spleen tonic.
Keep the lungs strong by using the above foods and herb. Exercise, particularly cardio-based ones are a must. Keeping rooms (especially the bedroom) “moist” with a humidifier or at least a bowl of water that you change every other day is also a requirement. We are coming up on the hot months, so the AC will be in full force. This typically leads to dry air and the lungs loathe dryness (and heat).
Last little secret. Be sure you add Trace Minerals to your nutritional protocol. They keep the system hydrated.
By keeping your lungs strong and moist, your skin will be softer and more youthful in no time!
David is a Nutritional and Alternative Medicine Expert, Educator and Entrepreneur. As an Acupuncture Physician and Master Herbalist, he has created the best selling anti aging formula, Doc Wellness Supplement and the online school - Dr. Orman's Wellness School.