The lungs are the principal organs of respiration. They fill the chest cavity, lying one on each side separated in the middle by the heart. The lungs are cone-shaped organs which have their base resting on the floor of the thoracic cavity—diaphragm. The inside of the lungs are lined with tiny air sacs called alveoli, each of which consists of a single layer of cells. It is here that the blood comes into almost direct contact with the air and an interchange of gases takes place. Oxygen from the air we breath attaches to the iron in the red blood cell in the alveoli, while, at the same time, the blood cell is getting rid of its waste material, carbon dioxide. A mucous membrane lines the bronchial tubes (air passages) and the lungs. It is covered with hair-like cells that help keep the passages clean.
When various outside substances, such as viruses, molds, bacteria, yeasts, dust, and pollen or factors taken in through food and drink, such as fatty dairy products, sugars, fruit juices, and chocolate, make contact with the mucous membrane, they can stimulate the production of excessive amounts of mucus. Excessive mucus swells the breathing passages and clogs the alveoli, interfering with the smooth exchange of gases in the normal breathing cycle. At the same time, while breathing ability is decreased because of congestion, the mucus also serves as a breeding ground for viruses and other infectious material. As this continues, breathing becomes more and more difficult, and the body begins to rid itself of the accumulated matter through coughing and sneezing. The cough or the
sneeze is the first attempt by the body to heal itself by expelling the toxin filled mucus.
The aim of treatment is to encourage this natural healing process. Cleansing the lungs is accomplished by cleaning up the diet. Both the lungs and the intestines are lined with mucous membranes; the decrease of mucus production in the intestines will decrease production in the lungs. Shiatsu and ginger compresses also help speed recovery.
The avoidance of all artificially-produced and chemicalized foods such as ice cream, soft drinks, frozen fruit juice, sugar, and greasy, fried foods is necessary when problems like asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema are present. Instead the diet should include well prepared whole grains and fresh cooked vegetables. Additionally, miso soup with seaweed should be eaten daily. After some time of eating the macrobiotic way, your breathing will be much freer and easier as excess mucus will not be produced. Speciality items such as salted plums (umeboshi) can be taken, one per day, and sesame salt (approximately 14-20 parts sesame seed mixed with 1 part good quality seasalt) can be used as a condiment on whole grains and vegetables. These will help to clean the blood and contract swollen bronchi, thereby opening the breathing passages.
Specific areas for shiatsu include the neck, shoulders, between the shoulder blades, and the front part of the chest. Doing the seated part of the full treatment will stimulate these areas adequately. Include shiatsu of the hands and arms, as the lung channel which travels on these body parts will affect the function of the lungs.