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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Andre Budihardjo on December 15, 2022

TCM Body Types: What Does Yours Say About Your Health?

Have you struggled to find a health and wellness plan that works for you? Learn about the nine different TCM body types here and how to best manage your health based on your specific type.

Body types min 1 scaled

If you have spent the day people-watching, you’ll notice that there are many body types out there. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are 9 different body types that you can have.

Each requires a different set of lifestyle adjustments to help stay balanced. You’re more prone to weight gain and diseases when your body type becomes unbalanced.

Read on to learn about the different body types in TCM. Which do you have? And do you know how to take care of it? Our experts explain below.

What Are The 9 TCM Body Types?

It’s worth noting that certain people can have a combination of two body types. This may give rise to several health disorders when your body experiences disharmony.

1. Neutral constitution body types

A smiling healthy woman wearing workout clothes and eating a salad
A neutral body type is one that reflects good general health.

This body constitution indicates good internal health that reflects outwards. For instance, you may be energetic and have a radiant complexion. Your body will also find it easier to assimilate to different environments. 

The consumption of a moderate but balanced diet can help maintain a neutral body constitution. Avoid foods that are too oily or spicy. It’s also advisable for you to have a positive attitude and engage in physical activity.

2. Qi-Deficient body types

SYMPTOMS: Breathlessness, fatigue, and spontaneous sweating are common symptoms. You may also catch a cold quicker and take longer to recover from illnesses. 

TCM TREATMENT: Consume foods like chicken and soybeans. The use of essence of chicken and herbal ingredients like astragalus (Huang Qi), white atractylodes (Bai Zhu) and Codonopsis root (Dang Shen) can help.

LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS: Get adequate sleep and do gentle yet vigorous exercises like power walking regularly. Keep warm at all times and avoid cold, windy environments after a strenuous workout.

Limit dairy product consumption, raw vegetables and salads, frozen foods, and juices. Slowing down your lifestyle. Avoid overworking and try to cultivate open-mindedness and optimism in life.

3. Yin-Deficient body types

SYMPTOMS: You may find it difficult to adapt to areas with hot and dry weather. This is evident through symptoms like hot flashes and red cheeks.

This body type is also likely to cause irritation, warm palms, and soles, thirst, fever, or sore throat. Individuals usually have a thin physique, are outgoing, and can be very impatient. 

TCM TREATMENT: Foods that replenish bodily fluids and are cooling and moisturizing in nature are recommended. For example, celery, duck meat, and black or white fungus. Refrain from overeating foods that are warming, such as mutton or onions.

LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS: Limit caffeine, reduce the consumption of spicy and fried foods, and avoid staying up late.

Listen to relaxing music and do mild to moderate exercises like walking and swimming. Meditation can also promote relaxation.

4. Yang-Deficient body types

A man and a woman sitting on a couch in winter coats with their hoods up, blowing warm air into their cold hands
Yang Deficient body types are prone to Cold and Dampness.

SYMPTOMS: You may be sensitive to cold weather and cool types of food. Your limbs can appear cold, and your risk of falling ill due to Cold or Dampness will be higher. Most individuals have weak muscles. 

TCM TREATMENT: Eat warm and qi-beneficial foods, including garlic and beef. Gentle exercises like tai chi or Qigong are helpful.

LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS: Keep your body — back, feet and lower abdomen — warm at all times. Do this by spending some time in a sauna.

Reduce much time spent in an air-conditioned space. Enjoy exercises like jogging, cycling, or swimming. Focus on quality sleep.

5. Blood Stasis body types

SYMPTOMS: This body type causes changes in skin appearance. You may have frequent skin bruising or dry, coarse, and sometimes painful skin.

Dark circles under your eyes or a dull or pigmented complexion and purplish dark lips can also occur. You may not be able to tolerate cold and windy weather. 

TCM TREATMENT:  Foods that promote a healthy flow of blood and qi, including rice wine, hawthorn fruit, and red beans, are recommended. 

Pungent spices, such as turmeric, coriander, and pepper are also helpful. Stay away from greasy foods, fat-rich meat, dairy products, and frozen foods.

Activities like dance or acrobatics can prevent congestion of blood and qiTuina and deep breathing exercises can also help.

LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS: Blood Stasis can be described as clotting. This refers to an accumulation of blood in your veins or arteries.

An unhealthy lifestyle and excessive weight gain or obesity can cause blood clotting. For these reasons, it’s crucial to eat nutritious meals and keep problems like diabetes and hypertension under control.

6. Phlegm-Dampness

SYMPTOMS: Dampness usually emerges from digestive impairment and can move to the large intestine and Lungs. You may see Phlegm coming up when you cough. 

In TCM, Dampness contributes to numerous illnesses, including eczema, allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, and metabolic disorders (such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases).

TCM TREATMENT: Eat more bland foods like barley, seaweed, carrots, or wasabi. Reduce your intake of foods that are naturally greasy, starchy, or sweet.

Acupuncture can help eliminate Dampness in the body by promoting circulation and supporting the Spleen and Stomach.

LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS: Be more active, but at your own pace. Also, stay away from outdoor activities during extreme weather. Stay away from situations that involve extreme emotions to protect your mental health.

7. Damp-Heat

SYMPTOMS: Symptoms include acne, constipation, thirst, bad breath, an oily face, or a bitter taste in the mouth. You may also have jaundice or health issues linked to hot and damp environments.

TCM TREATMENT: Eat foods that remove Heat and Dampness, such as red beans and water chestnuts. Reduce foods that are acidic and greasy, like fast food.

LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS: Practice meditation and avoid overworking and staying up late. Engage in moderate to high-intensity workouts like CrossFit.

8. Qi-Stagnation

Image of a woman sitting on the floor after exercising with a towel around her neck and a water bottle and dumbbell near her
Exercise is important if you have stagnation of qi as it helps with stress, depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

SYMPTOMS: This condition leads to depression, anxiety, fear, and insomnia. It can also cause chest palpitations and tightness in the throat. Individuals often appear skinny and have a dull complexion. 

TCM TREATMENT: Eats foods that aid digestion, remove Stagnation, and refresh the mind. This includes onion, parsley, and wheat. Herbal formulations that use fingered citron (Foshou) and orange peel can also help.

LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS: Include heavy exercises as part of your daily living. Participating in group exercises to support an active lifestyle and social life.

Keep a quiet living environment for restful sleep. Cultivate optimism, nurture good relationships, and keep an open mind.

9. Intrinsic body types

SYMPTOMS: You are sensitive to pollen, certain foods, medications, and scents. You are prone to rashes, a blocked nose, or asthma as a result of weather changes.

TCM TREATMENT: A bland, balanced diet that comprises enough meat and vegetables is advocated. You should abstain from spicy foods or foods that are stimulating. Avoid dairy, seafood, and other allergens. 

LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS: Keep your environment clean and free from dust or allergens. Wear clothing that protects your body from the cold when exercising.

What’s your body type and how do you keep it healthy? Leave a comment below and share your experience with us.

This is an adaptation of an article, “WHAT’S YOUR BODY CONSTITUTION?” that first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website. 

References

  1. Myfitnesspal. 2018. 7 Variations of Walking That Torch Calories.  
  2. CHINESENUTRITION.ORG. Bo He
  3. CHINESENUTRITION.ORG. Bai Zhu. 
  4. CHINESENUTRITION.ORG. Dang Shen
  5. Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Blood Clots
  6. Shine Holistic. 2016. Dampness – TCM’s approach
  7. NBC News. 2019. What is CrossFit? And is it right for you? Here’s what you need to know. 

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