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Constitutional Types and Health

Everyone has a different capacity to
Images from 1918 Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body from
hold energy. Some people have big lungs and some have small ones. Some of have big hearts and some have petite ones. The same is true for the liver, spleen, and kidneys as well. These are the Yin organs that collect energy inside of us for use as needed throughout our bodies and energetic systems.

You have five Yin organs to hold the Five Elements (the Pericardium is the sixth Yin organ but it is considered a special offshoot of Fire and Water) and each can only hold so much energy. If our Five Element energy is equal in every organ it means we will have relatively few chronic health problems as we will be less likely to have repeated shortages or repeated excesses in one or another Element. But if our physiology holds energy unevenly, which is the rule rather than the exception, then we are assured to have repeated times in our lives where we are imbalanced. The frequency of these imbalances determines the likelihood of developing chronic complaints of a very specific and predictable nature.

Genetics Is Not Destiny

The Western world believes one's constitution falls entirely within the domain of genetics. But we all have genes that express behaviors that are never actually turned on. Constitutions are akin to genetic diseases. Having a gene for a problem doesn't ensure one will manifest the disease – and having a gene for a constitutional behavior doesn't mean one will express that behavior. According to traditional thought, the reason for this strange occurrence is that the environmental energy around the body – especially at gestation – is just as important as genetics (traditionally called the parents' Jing essence) in determining one's overall presentation and likelihood of expressing a genetic disease.

According to Fu Xi Wen, our constitutions are determined by two factors: our parents Elemental constitutions and the external energy in the environment during our gestation. This falls back on traditional Chinese theory that looks at the movement of the five closest planets to determine which energies are excessive and which ones are deficient during any particular year.

Because there are two sources, parents and yearly energies, people have different constitutional strengths and weaknesses creating the cornucopia of human (and animal) personalities we know and love (or hate...or feel neutral about...or love to hate).

One person might have only one dominant Element and another might have four out of five that are strong. Some people are lucky to receive all Five Elements in balance when you combine parental constitutions together with yearly energies. The less balanced a person is, the more defined their personality is according to the following model. The more balanced, the more likely they present with a patchwork of personality habits.

While having balanced energy is always a good thing, especially for health and longevity, there is no implied better constitution. All of have their strengths and weaknesses.

Wood Types

Images from 1918 Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body from

Wood constitutions have lean bodies with very clearly defined muscles regardless of their attention to exercise. They love learning, growing, exploring, and connecting to people. They enjoy being angry, frustrated, and stressed (even if they won't admit it) and this is reflected in having a lot of experiences in which they get to manifest these emotions. They hate details and specifics. They communicate their emotions verbally and are excellent speakers and communicators in general. They love connecting intellectual dots. They are extroverts.

People who are Earth constitutions have trouble with Wood types as Wood controls Earth. And Wood types have trouble with Metal types. That said, the more unbalanced and singularly Wood a Wood type is, the more likely he/she will find himself or herself in a relationship with a Metal type. Controlling relationships provide boundaries for excessive personalities. More often then not, more balanced Wood people court Water, Wood, or Fire type relationships, in the Generating Cycle, in which the partners find nurturing and stability.

Wood types tend to have jobs that keep them growing, that involve action and/or strategy, and that involve connecting with other people.

Wood people have strong eyes, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue. Their livers and gallbladders are usually quite healthy. Yet, when a person is an excessive Wood type, these locations experience excessive and dramatic diseases. They have excellent minds that can think outside the box. However, they tend to have weak digestive systems such as stomach problems, esophagus problems, gum and lip problems, eating problems, and problems with motor function. They also tend to have lesser problems with their lungs, large intestines, skin, sinuses, noses, and physical boundaries throughout their bodies.

Fire Types

Fire types are extremely passionate and joyful. They love to laugh and giggle and do so frequently in general conversation. They love change and live a life of constant flow and rebirth. When it comes to work, they tend to move through jobs and burn bridges. No one creates more conflict than Fire types and the thing is they thrive in it (even if they won't admit it). They also love love. They are extroverts and love bouncing off different social groups. They tend to be selfish and impulsive. They surround themselves with passionate experiences for all of the senses. True redheads are almost always Fire types. Fire types are extremely impulsive and experience their emotions by manifesting impulsive actions. Fire bodies are long and lanky.

Fire types are controlled by Water types. Fire types control Metal types. Excess Fire types fall into relationships with Water people that extinguish the excesses of their nature. More often then not, however, balanced Fire people court more generating relationships with Wood, Fire, or Earth types. Fire types have boundary problems and as a result don't have an acutely defined sense of integrity, right and wrong.

Fire types love jobs that constantly flow. They also love art and dance.

Fire people have strong tastes and strong tongues. They have extremely healthy hearts, blood vessels and small intestines. Yet if they are imbalanced, these are locations for excessive problems. They tend to have skin, lung, large intestine, nose, sinus, and physical boundary problems. To a lesser degree, they might have kidney, bladder, smooth muscle, bone and structural issues.

Earth Types

Earth types are strong and nurturing. They can be “mother-earth” figures that tend to every need of others. Their bodies tend to be thick and stocky. They have more fat cells than other people (even if they won't admit it). They can be entirely stubborn and thick-headed but also extremely loyal. One of the reasons for this is that Earth types feel their feelings very strongly. They are also extremely trusting and trustworthy. They tend to carry tremendous power and responsibility. They are homebodies. You know an Earth type by their homes – which tend to be extremely full of stuff and chotchkies. Earth people are introverts predominantly (except Fire Earth types) but if you get them talking, they will talk your ear off. It is very hard to disengage from an Earth type, in that they hold onto conversations as long as possible.

Images from 1918 Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body from

Earth types love food and have trouble with their weight despite exercising. They more easily convert fat to muscle than fat to nothing.

Earth types are controlled by Wood people. Earth types control Water people. Excess Earth types marry Wood people and have contentious, angry, complicated relationships. But miraculously it works because they are excessive. More balanced Earth types tend to marry Fire, Earth, or Metal types and provide a tremendous amount of nurturing.

Earth bodies have great stomachs, spleens, motor control, muscles, gums, lips, and guts. Excessive people have excessive problems in these domains. They tend to have problems with bones, kidneys, smooth muscles, bladders, and physical structures. To a lesser degree, they have problems with ligaments, tendons, eyes, livers, gallbladders, and connective tissue.

Metal Types

Metal people are incredibly smart. The reason for this is they are sharp in just about every sense of the word, from distinct bone structures to the precise words they use in conversation. They make for lousy speakers but excellent writers – as writing allows them to be precise whereas talking is altogether too Wood (quick connections) and Fire-oriented (tongue is a Fire organ and words flow). Metal people categorize everything. Their humor is often sharp and biting. They experience their emotions as thoughts more than feelings. Their bodies tend to be thin (unless they are Earth Metal types) but not perfectly thin and definitely not as well-defined as Wood types. Metal types care tremendously about integrity, protection (not to be confused with safety), right and wrong, and have a strong sense of their expectations and judgments.

Metal types find jobs that involve specifics, details, and categorization.

Metal excess people marry Fire people and find balance in a relationship that is extremely conflict-oriented. Most Metal people, however, hate conflict so much they will do just about anything they can to avoid its Fire. Metal people are introverts. More balanced Metal people marry Earth, Metal, or Water types.

Metal types have strong lungs, large intestines, noses, sinuses and boundaries. However, these are the locations where excess problems manifest. Most of the time, Metal people have problems with their livers, gallbladders, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue. To a lesser degree, they have problems with blood vessels, the small intestine, the heart muscle, and the tongue.

Water Types

Water types tend to have physical quirks such as ears at the wrong heights or different shapes between two of the same physical structures. In other words, they are not perfectly symmetrical. Water types are all about theory, structure, foundations, and plans. The are full of knowledge. Their humor requires some foundation in understanding for their jokes to be funny. Water types are introverts unless they are Water Wood types, in which case they can go either way and may alternate throughout their lives if not within the course of a day. Water types put on water weight. Water people feel their emotions viscerally – such as shaking when scared or butterflies in the belly when nervous. Without these physiological markers, they might not otherwise be tuned in to their emotions. Water people are confident by their nature and have strong will-power.

Water people tend to marry Metal, Water, and Wood types. But when they are excessive, they attract Earth types despite the fact that these relationships can feel stuck and stagnant.

Water people love jobs that involve theory and knowledge.

Water bodies have strong kidneys, bladders, bones, and structures. The more excessive the person is in this type, the more likely these organs will be the site of excessive problems. Water types have weak blood vessels, hearts, small intestines, and tongues. To a lesser degree they have problems with digestion, stomachs, the esophagus, gums and lips, and muscles.

Images from 1918 Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body from

Constitutional Two Elements

Most people, even if they are overall balanced, have two Elements that are stronger than the rest. These Elements are always in a Generating Cycle relationship: Water Wood, Wood Fire, Fire Earth, Earth Metal, or Metal Water.

Constitution can be an important factor in determining the source of a disease and its prognosis. If a problem manifests that corresponds with a constitutional excess or a constitutional weakness it will be more likely to recur and may be harder to heal.

Constitutions can also change. Surgery and trauma have the ability to increase or decrease a constitutional strength or weakness, effectively changing one's personality in subtle or dramatic ways. When this happens, it can be very tough on relationships. Relationships are often built on these Elemental frameworks. Also, over time, a person who is excessive in an Element can become deficient. Suddenly, a controlling relationship no longer feels healthy anymore.

The goal is for you to be able to apply this knowledge towards Fu Xi Wen. If you can identify your constitutional Elements, you can identify organs in your body that you should keep a close eye on for preventative medicine.

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