Grief and Your Lungs
Western medicine has only recently acknowledged the negative physical effects that stress can have on our bodily systems. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), however, has connected emotions to organs for thousands of years. According to TCM, each organ in the body is related to a particular emotion. Imbalances in these organs may present as mental health issues, and vice versa. Anger, for example, is housed in the liver. Alcoholism may contribute to a weakened, diseased liver and present as moodiness and anger. Grief and sadness impact the lungs.
The lungs take in pure energy or Qi each time we inhale oxygen and then detoxify our system by removing carbon dioxide waste when we exhale. This transaction is seen as a sacred cycle that creates balance and harmony. Any imbalance in the body and mind can result in disease.
Life events we equate with grief and loss might include losing a job, moving, a breakup, divorce, death of a loved one or dramatic change. These may cause an imbalance. Although our darkest moments are transient and temporary, grief can inflict us with pain so strong it impairs our breathing. We’ve all experienced this—that heavy as bricks feeling on the chest, a weight in the heart, accompanied with shallow breathing or a feeling that the wind was knocked out of you. Grief has physical manifestations.
In Chinese medicine, the five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal and water—are also associated with seasons. The lungs are linked to metal and autumn. Just as grief is temporary, autumn is a transitional season that eventually leads us from darkness into growth, warmth and light. Suppressing negative emotions and not healing from loss , however, may cause emotions to get “stuck,” and this is when grief might develop into a chronic illness—lung cancer, COPD, emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, pleurisy. . .the list goes on.
But it’s not just the lungs that are impacted by grief. The lungs are the rulers of your skin, hair and even your nose and partner with your large intestine. Grief impacts all of these since breath is vital to oxygenating your system. Since removing toxins is also a responsibility of the lungs, immune function may be impacted by grief, as well.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, just as the lungs regulate breathing pathways to allow oxygen in and the release of carbon dioxide and toxins, it also is responsible for opening and closing the pores of the skin. Pores provide additional ability to detoxify through sweating as well as absorbing our environment. When the lung energy or qi is weak, pores remain open and leave our immune systems vulnerable. Weakened qi might be evident in the skin, resulting in acne. Strengthening the lung qi can help improve certain skin conditions for this reason. Weak lung qi may also affect your hair, creating an imbalance in its ability to retain moisture. In addition, hair follicles require proper oxygen and blood flow to maintain health.
The emotion of sadness is very depleting to the body over a long period of time. It weakens the nervous system, while reducing energy in the body as well. Symptoms associated with a lung issue are tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, asthma, frequent colds, skin problems like psoriasis and eczema and also circulation issues.
In women, weak lung qi may even affect breast health, which can lead to cancer. The meridian energy line of the lung flows over the breasts, so it’s no surprise that the breasts and lymphatic system may be affected. In both genders, long-term unresolved grief that diminishes lung qi can eventually impact the heart.
Sadness and grief are lingering emotions that are difficult to release. Being chronic, these emotions are extremely taxing on the body. Reduced energy and vibrational frequency opens one up to systemic weakness, which is why it’s important to process grief rather than repress it. Feelings of loss and grief are a part of life and result in growth when processed effectively. These emotions only transform into negative physical manifestations when they are not managed properly.
Just as removing toxins from the system is important to health, so is removing negative energy. Trapped negative emotions, such as grief, can block meridian lines, reduce blood flow, constrict breathing and affect vital organs. Negative emotions may then manifest into physical illness.
Fall is a transitional season before the extremeness of winter. It’s a season of preparing and gathering strength. Metal elements such as the lungs and large intestines are most vulnerable during fall. When we experience grief, we must also slow down to process emotions and prepare for what lies ahead. Nature calls us to connect with its changing beauty, and in nature, our lungs and psyche find remedy.
Connecting with nature has benefits to increasing one’s vibrational frequency and detoxifying negative emotions, such as grief. The vibrational energy of trees increases our levels of oxytocin and serotonin, responsible for positive emotions and a sense of calm and relaxation. In addition, oils from trees called phytoncides are emitted in the air, which stimulate our immune system, helping us to fight infection, chronic illness, even cancer.
Multiple peer-reviewed studies demonstrate the health benefits of grounding (also called earthing), which simply means putting your bare feet on the ground. Grounding can help issues with every bodily system—improving immune function, helping you sleep better, increasing metabolic function, balancing hormones, reducing inflammation, boosting energy, reducing pain, improving circulation and balancing blood sugar, cholesterol levels, neurotransmitters and much more.
Breathwork also helps to manage grief. The simple act of deep abdominal breathing can help to recharge the nervous system and regulate hormones. Taking deep breaths also helps the body to detoxify and re-oxygenate the system.
Processing emotions requires going inward, acknowledging your feelings and letting go of negativity. When we take time to appreciate the positive parts of our life, the universe gifts us with more positivity. The same thing happens on the flip-side—see all the negative and more will be drawn to you.
Simply keeping a daily gratitude journal for several weeks has positive outcomes on depression, reducing depressive symptoms by 35%, according to a study on gratitude journaling.
Research on gratitude’s effect on stress shows a reduction in cortisol levels, demonstrating that stress hormones are influenced greatly by our thoughts. The hypothalamus is responsible for managing stress. Gratitude positively influences activities of the hypothalamus, which regulates emotions. Gratitude also affects the hippocampus and amygdala, which activate emotions and memory.
In addition, when we express and receive gratitude, our brain releases the “feel good” neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin.
The foods we eat can also help with managing grief and supporting the lung qi. Avoid mucous producing foods, such as dairy, which may further congest the lungs. Choose foods with a bit of a bite due to their awakening and detoxifying nature—foods, such as onions, garlic, radishes, arugula and mustard seed. These spicy foods are warming and excitatory, helping to open detox pathways and improve blood circulation, hence increasing cellular oxygenation. If the lungs are congested, mullein tea is a natural expectorant.
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The combined ingredients are clinically-studied with results showing improvement in short-term memory, focus and cognitive health. Studies have focused on the lung’s vulnerability to damage due to low antioxidant production as a result of low levels of CoQ10. These low levels may ultimately result in lung disease, COPD, asthma and other lung-related health issues.
Vitamin A helps your body to produce white bloods cells that fight infection and cleanse the blood to support the lymphatic system. Studies have demonstrated that Vitamin A has positive effects on various respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia and measles as well as digestive diseases. Vitamin D is also important to supporting the immune system.
Our Vegan ADK consists of two forms of Micellized Vitamin A (palmitate and betacarotene), VEGAN Vitamin D3 along with two essential forms of K2 (MK-4 + MK-7). Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, while Vitamin K2 helps the body ensure that calcium is properly utilized (i.e., that it is ending up in the bones and not in the heart and blood vessels). Vitamin K2 keeps calcium in bones and teeth and out of soft tissues
The Nrf2 pathway is responsible for regulating the production of antioxidants. When the body’s free radical off-balance warning signal is activated, Nrf2 is designed to spring into action, returning the system to balance. Certain conditions, however, can inhibit the Nrf2 activation process.
Environmental conditions (such as smoking and air pollution) and biological and emotional conditions (chronic stress, high blood pressure, systemic inflammation) can cause more free radicals to be produced than the body can keep in check. The result is a condition known as oxidative stress.
Our Nrf2 Boost contains well researched and highly bioavailable ingredients which activate the Nrf2 genetic pathway, promoting optimal cellular health. This pathway regulates the production of the body’s crucial antioxidant enzymes.