Phlegm and Rheum are normal Body Fluids transformed by a disorder of their metabolism. They are related to internal Zang-Fu organs such as the Spleen, Lung, Kidney, Liver, and San jiao. The six external pathogens, the seven internal emotional factors, improper food intake, and improper work or rest may injure internal organs.Their impairment of Qi’s steaming functions leads to disordered Body Fluid metabolism and Phlegm and Rheum formation.
• Phlegm and Rheum form when Zang-Fu dysfunctions cause retention of Body Fluid, failed steaming of Water and Damp, and accumulation of Damp. Specifically, dysfunction of the:
– Spleen causes impaired transportation/transformation of Water and Damp;
– Lung causes impaired dispersing/descending of Water;
– Kidney causes impaired Water regulation;
– Liver causes impaired flow and release of metabolized Body Fluid;
– San jiao causes impaired Qi steaming.
• Phlegm and Rheum may interact in the Zang-Fu organs, further impair Qi’s organ steaming, and lead to secondary Phlegm and Rheum formation. For example, Spleen deficiency, caused by accumulated Phlegm and Damp in the Lung, may lead to cough and difficult breathing. The ancients said, “The spleen is Phlegm’s source, and the Lung is Phlegm’s container.”
• Phlegm and Rheum formation is related to externally invaded or internally produced Cold and Heat. Cold/Heat may rise from Yin/Yang imbalance caused by Zang-Fu dysfunction.
– Cold in organs inhibits steaming, impairs Body Fluid steaming, and forms Phlegm and rheum, especially Rheum. For example, Lung coldness may cause Lung Rheum to accumulate and lead to cough with thin bubbly sputum, called Cold and Rheum residing in the Lung.
– Heat in organs may evaporate and condense Body Fluid, and form Rheum or Phlegm, especially Phlegm. For example, Lung Heat may cause Phlegm-blocked Lungs, and lead to cough with yellow thick purulent sputum, called Phlegm and Heat residing in the Lung.