Depending on where you live, the later winter can be much colder and more humid than early winter. Cold penetrates the body widely, and the phlegm humor is much more active than other times of the year.
The Phlegm humor (Badken-spyi)
Phlegm is called ‘Badken’ in Tibetan, Bad means ‘earth‘, and kan means ‘water‘ Earth provides the quality of heaviness, and water provides the qualities of humidity and coldness. Both produce the qualities of coldness, wetness, binding and heaviness in the body. The cool and wet nature of the Phlegm humor opposes the heat of Bile, while its qualities of heaviness and gentleness (smoothness) balance the roughness of the Wind humor. The Phlegm humor controls the Bile heat which is a primary cause of infection and fever.
Psychologically, the word phlegm is derived from gti-mug or closed-mindedness and it is comprised of two words: gti’ (pronounced ti), which means selfishness, and mug, which means unclear, foggy confused. It is hidden in the left channel of the core of the body It is a masculine and lunar energy, which dominates the left side of the body. Phlegm humor is also associated with calm and slow characteristics.
Three main sources of the Phlegm humor
1. The proportion of Phlegm humor comes from one’s past life’s mental afflictions of selfishness and closed-mindedness (gti-mug),
2. Phlegm is also ‘genetically’ from the parents physical disposition and especially from the father.
3. Phlegm energy is accumulated and/or encouraged through nutrition.
Phlegm humor locations and general functions
The Phlegm humor is generally located in the head, chest and above the diaphragm. It functions and rules the body fluids (water), and sustains the Phlegm humor energy in the body. The Phlegm humor is generally active in the chest, throat, lungs, brain, muscles, fat, bone marrow, reproductive fluids, feces, urine, and it also functions in the nose, tongue, spleen, stomach, kidney, bladder, and especially dominates the stomach and small intestine. It controls the Bile heat and balances Wind. It is associated with sleep and patience. Phlegm contributes to joint and sinovial fluid health throughout the body as it rules the gland and lymphatic systems. It keeps the organs and skin smooth. It nourishes and rules physical growth, and it sustains the grey tissue in the brain. It provides firmness and stability to the body and mind.
The seven characters of Phlegm humor
Phlegm humor has seven qualities: it is oily, cool, heavy, blunt, smooth, stable, and mucous-like. They counterbalance the Bile and Wind qualities. An excess of Phlegm, dominating the other two humors will manifest with the following symptoms:
Obesity caused by the fat and oily quality of Phlegm, a cooled digestive fire and the arising of metabolic disorders. Physically, the body becomes heavy and experiences heavy feelings; the body/mind actions become slow and blunt (slow action), the body skin becomes smooth and soft and the body, mind and diseases all have a thick character, with the increase of mucus and saliva and a sticky nature.
The five principal Phlegm branches (rTsawei-badken-lna)
The Phlegm humor is divided into five types which regulate the particular functions of the body and its organs. They are called the ‘root or principal Phlegm‘ branches:
1. The Supporting Phlegm (Badken-rtenbyed, pronounced beken tenjed) is the principal branch of Phlegm.
Function: It resides in the chest, and sustains and supports the functions of the four other Phlegm branches. It controls the endocrine and lymphatic systems, distributes fluid in the blood and body tissues, and rules thirst and salivation.
Disfunction: imbalanced in Phlegm could manifest in loss of appetite, tension in the shoulders, pain in the back and front chest, acidity, vomiting, chest malformations, etc.
2. The Decomposing Phlegm (Badken-myagbyed pronounced beken myagjed) is the saliva and gastric juice of the stomach.
Function: it resides in the stomach and functions in the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon. It helps decompose food, absorb and assimilate nutrients and sends them to the liver.
Disfunction: Imbalance of this type of Phlegm could manifest in all types of digestion difficulties and in difficulty with food absorption, belching, and in the feeling of a hard or tensed stomach. Such an imbalance is a cause of chronic stomach and digestive disorders.
3. The Experiencing Phlegm (Badken-myongbyed, pronounced beken myongjed) resides in the tongue and governs taste.
Function: It governs the gustatory function.
Disfunction: Imbalance of this type of Phlegm leads to loss of taste, appetite and thirst, a cold tongue, pain in the lips, and hoarseness.
4. The Satisfying Phlegm (Badken-tshimbyed, pronounced beken tshimjed) is located in the head.
Function: It governs the feeling of satisfaction coming from the six sense consciousnesses. For example the like or dislike for music, etc.
Disfunction: Imbalance of this type of Phlegm manifests vertigo, drunken-like eyes (loss of control), and hearing disturbances, sneezing, an excess of nose mucus, catching frequent colds and a heavy feeling in the fontanel area. Psychologically, this could cause extreme or exaggerated thought, a fixated mind, depression, anorexia, or bulimia, etc.
5. The Connecting Phlegm (Badken-‘byorbyed, pronounced beken-jorjed) resides in the joints.
Function: It lubricates the joints and keeps them firm. It controls stretching and the retraction of the limbs and body movements.
Disfunction: Imbalance in this type of Phlegm could easily manifest in joint stiffness, swollen joints and could develop into osteoarthritis, arthritis and various joint and ligament disorders associated with inflammation.