Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
After a few days of sleeping in a friend’s basement, I woke up with pain in my lungs that occurred when breathing. I was told that there had, at one time, been mold there, but that it had been cleaned up. How can I clean out my lungs?
A: First, I would like to suggest a possible alternative cause for the pain. In youth there are often slight pleural effusion pains due to the growth of the chest cavity. The pain is a normal result of the lungs growing and pushing against the pleural cavity. This notwithstanding, it is possible that you may have been exposed to mold or fungal spores. In that case, the best thing to do is to have your lungs checked for an infection. Fungal infections can cause complications when left untreated. Seek advice from a licensed acupuncturist/herbalist to help with a prescription to clear the lungs. They will also prescribe breathing exercises that can help. One such exercise is the bellows breath exercise, which I often prescribe. It is done in the early morning in fresh clean air outside. Stand facing east, feet shoulder width apart, slightly bent at the knees, and arms draped at your sides. In short bursts (like bellows), inhale clean air and likewise in bellows blow out the air in short bursts through the mouth. When exhaling, direct the flow to the ground in front of you and slightly bend forward. Repeat 31 times, taking care not to hyperventilate.