Basic Constitutional Health Typology

Basis in Naturalistic Principles

Very observant mystics in China called Taoists were often preoccupied with a couple activities: (a) tasting and ingesting various herbs and substances to determine their health benefits and value as medicines or foods; (b) the manifestation of energies (Qi or Chi) in the natural world from their fundamental roots as male/female (Yin and Yang) through the five phases of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water (generative cycle).

This led the Oriental philosophers to arrive at a base philosophy whose fundamentals are virtually unquestioned in the far east/southeast Asian world. This allowed at least 4,000 years of development of the practical applications of this naturalistic philosophy into medicine, the healing arts of herbology, massage and physical therapies and other practical arts.(1)(2)

This is unique because the history of the development of western medicine has been characterized by the fight between the heroic and homeopathic schools of medicine, and by the division of mind and body.

The following constitutional descriptions are for you to use in identifying your own pattern, or at least the two patterns that are most like you.


Centers around the liver/gallbladder, the physical/emotional growth/push drives. The pattern involves pushy, unrelenting energies that can manifest as frustration/suppression, stiffness/stubborness, headaches/migraines, even angry outbursts if it gets far enough out of balance; allergies with green phlegm; insomnia especially from 1-3 AM. In its weakened state it can result in anemia and liver diseases like hepatitis, cirrhosis, shingles, gallstones.

Wood types need exercise that moves the blood vigorously, loosens up the muscles and increases flexibility.


Centers around the heart physical/emotional and has a dynamic of surging or intensifying energies. The pattern is general extroversion, hyperactivity (or a sudden onset of hypo-activity in depression or unrequited love), excitability, fidgeting, vivid imagination/active mind, restlessness/sleeplessness; wakefulness/insomnia (especially through 11-3 AM); rapid heat/fevers when ill that usually burn out quickly; flushed face, florid look.

Such fiery types need a vigorous physical outlet of their energies each day, preferably at the start of the day, to settle their energies into a calmer balance.


Centers around the core/digestive — the physical/emotional hearth center that provides nurturing and mothering instincts for self and others. The pattern is of caring for self and those near, but can involve depletion or overburdened (digestion) especially if the self-worth falls into unworthiness. Anemia or weakness from malabsorption can then develop. This can lead to weakened muscles and progressive loss of energy.

Exercise should be more leisurely like long walks that help them develop stamina or gentle yoga that involves stretching the muscles gently and safely to loosen up their typically congested energies.


Centered in the lungs/upper respiratory/lymph/skin — the surface defense level. This is where the immune system is supposed to be most active in order to protect the body. If the metal type is weak, these energies collapse and they withdraw; it can often be seen in the sagging posture of walking sadness and grief; the chest feels heavy and breathing a labor; there is poor blood oxygenation and weak muscles. The excess/stressed metal constitution is characterized by bronchitis, congestive asthma, wheezing, stiff shoulders or pain in the back, skin disorders, allergies. There is a tendency for defensiveness and sadness.

Obviously exercises that involve deep breathing can be very good for this constitutional type.


The water constitution is centered in the root, in the depth of the body’s structures, but particularly the kidney/adrenal. Excess water means exactly that, an accumulation of fluids in various states of liquidity (generally low in the body). It is seen as obvious edema or may only be felt as a dragging, heavy feeling or congestive pressures; the person may feel wishy-washy and have trouble with decisive decision making. In a weakened state the body will show weakness of the legs/low back, tired kidney/adrenals, a sinking feeling may be felt and the person may be withdrawn and feel fearful or timid. Bones may break easily or there may be persistent back/spinal issues. Kidney stones, prostatitis and diabetes can show with either variation.

Water types need exercise that leaves them feeling emotionally rejuvenated as much as physically boosted. The exercise should consolidate their energies and determination rather than burn up energy reserves.

Energy Deficiency/Energy Restraint

This describes a more progressive development of energy imbalance in one of two directions: (a) deficiency due to depletion from repeated illness or prolonged stress; (b) stuck energy (chest/head) due to excessive mental activity or phlegm producing foods/airborne factors. Both can involve depression, but the weakened energy type is depressed from a lack of energy or strength to keep meeting the challenges of life. The excess energy type may actually feel as if they do not have enough energy, when in fact indicators will show that it is phlegm blockage in the upper body that is blocking/restraining the flow of energy up through the head and freely back down into the viscera.


The heat constitution can be brought on by lingering infection, food poisoning, excess summer heat exposure. Two different categories of heat relieving herbs are used here: anti-pyretics and heat clearing detoxifiers. Redness around the head/eyes or in the mouth (sores), hyperactivity, irritation, confusion, fast talking, painful skin eruptions or feverish conditions are indicators of this constitution.

The dryness constitution may not be alleviated by increasing the intake of fluids, because it may be induced by loss of core organ fluids (called Yin) that must be supplemented through herbs and diet. There may be thirst unrelieved by water, burning urination or skin, excessively warm hands, feelings of agitation, fear, anger, plus afternoon fatigue. This dryness constitution can be closely related to the depleted water constitution and sometimes herbs for both conditions may be used. Diabetes is a strong indicator of this constitutional type.

Both these types are exacerbated by alcohol and stimulants.



About Kannon McAfee

Poet, herbalist/healer, professional astrologer. Kannon means Kwan Yin -- healer. So I approach my work and others with a healer's heart. I'm dedicated to advancing astrology as a soul-oriented science. My specialty is birth chart interpretation and rectification.
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