According to TCM beliefs, everyone has a unique body type. The term body constitution refers to the body’s metabolism, functioning organs, and organ structure, which in turn affects how resistant we are to external pathogens.
Body constitution becomes the foundation whereby TCM diagnoses and treats similar illnesses. Inherited genes and external factors determine the type of body constitution we have. External factors can be stress, diet, influence from the environment, and lifestyle. Inherited genes are part of our natural genetic make-up passed down from one generation to the next, and are often difficult to change. TCM aims to improve the entire body constitution to be more balanced and steer clear of external factors that are detrimental to our health.
What Does It Mean to Have a Balanced Body Constitution?
A balanced body type refers to a healthy person with yin and yang energies in balance. They have normal body functions and strong resistance against diseases. Conversely, body types that are deficient in yin or yang energies are in a state of imbalance.
A yang deficient person has excess yin energy. This makes them more vulnerable to yin-like illnesses, such as colds, cough with phlegm, and water retention. Likewise, a yin deficient person has too much yang energy in their bodies, which makes them easily a target for diseases that are yang in nature, for example, fever, headaches, and insomnia.
TCM also delves deeper by further categorizing our body constitutions into 9 subtypes.
This is a physically fit body type. This type of body make-up does not have any imbalances and is usually healthy with good skin. They do not feel hot or cold easily. Their general appetite is good, they sleep well, and their tongues, urine, and stools do not show any abnormalities upon inspection. Of all body types, neutral is the most balanced body constitution and adapts well to the environment, hence they are also less likely to fall ill.
People with damp heat body constitution are prone to acne as they have oily skin. They may complain of a bitter taste in the mouth and have bad breath. Stools can be sticky and dry. They may experience a sense of heaviness in the body, have difficulty passing motion, and often feel fatigued. Usually, these body types do not respond well to hot and humid weather.
Feeling cold is a common complaint of Yang deficient people, as they have a weak body that is sensitive to windy and cold temperatures. They have a preference for hot food and beverages. Most of these individuals have pale skin. Their tongue often has a white coating upon inspection.
Yin deficient people have a dry body type, meaning they have dry eyes, lips, throat, and skin. They may feel thirsty easily. Hot flushes and redness on the face are common, and they are prone to fever and sore throats in hot weather. Their palms and feet often feel warm to touch. Yin deficient people tend to be skinny and find it hard to put on weight. The most common ailments for this body type are itchy skin, nose, eyes, and even constipation due to lack of lubrication.
Out of all body types, qi deficient individuals are the most easily tired. Physical activity makes them perspire easily, as they have low stamina. These individuals are prone to catching a cold and may take a long time to recover from illnesses.
As the name suggests, individuals with phlegm and damp body types tend to produce too much phlegm. Usually, they have oily skin and secrete excessive sebum on the face and scalp. They can also be overweight or bloated due to water retention. For this reason, they get tired and dizzy easily and may snore during sleep. These individuals have a low metabolism and gain weight easily. They have a preference for sweet and fatty foods. Upon inspecting their tongue, it is moist and covered with a greasy coating.
The most common feature of Qi stagnation body types is moodiness. Hence individuals with this disposition may be prone to mood swings, depression, and insomnia. They usually have a thin and frail appearance. As they are easily stressed, they may complain of tightness in the throat and chest palpitations.
As these people have poor blood circulation, they often suffer from bleeding problems and abnormal growths in the body. People with this body type also have dull skin, skin pigmentation, dark lips, and dark eye circles. They may bruise easily and do not tolerate cold environments well.
People with special constitutions often innately sensitive to their surroundings. They may be allergic to certain foods, medicine, and smell. Skin allergies and rashes are common among this body type. Their general state of health may be heavily influenced by seasonal weather changes and their physical environment.
When diagnosing yourself or someone else, it should be noted that you may not be only limited to the above body types. In fact, it could manifest as a combination of several types, for instance, qi stagnation and blood stasis, qi deficiency and damp heat, and so on. The combinations are endless and vary from one person to another. You may notice your body display stronger and more dominant symptoms for a particular body constitution. In this case, you should refer to the body type that relates to the dominant symptoms.
With that being said, the best way to determine your body type is by consulting a TCM physician. Contact us at 9230 0355 and our physicians will be happy to shed light on your own unique body constitution!