Welcome to Millwoods Acupuncture Centre

Millwoods Acupuncture Center
102, 2603 Hewes Way
Edmonton AB,   Canada

Phone: (780) 466-8683



Body constitution and herbal therapy

As a TCM doctor, you should know that some herbs work better in some body constitution than in others. When we mean the body constitution, we mean that a body can be slim constitution, strong-looking constitution, overshape constitution, fire, or phlegm constitution, just as example.

(1). Guizhi constitution

Slim constitution is also called Guizhi constitution. It means that some people have better healing reaction to herb formula that contain herb Guizhi.

Person with a slim constitution is slim in body shape. They are thin and have no worry about overweight. However, what bother them are frequent sweating, easy getting cold to cough, to sneeze, to have running nose, e.g. the whole picture of their body is easy sweat plus frequent “allergic reaction”. There are some herbs more suitable for this group of people. They are Guizhi-containing herb formula, such Guizhi Tang, Guizhi jia Longgu Muli Tang. It does not mean that these herbs are only used to this group of people, neither that this group of people will definite need these group of herbs no matter what clinic condition they have. But it does mean that when you see people with slim body shape and when you know that they have frequent sweat, cough, running nose, etc, you should remember that they may need such Guizhi-containing herbs, at least try such Guizhi-containing herbs first. This is very important clinic tip and it has been described in Shang Han Lun 2000 years ago, but you never learn it from your textbook TCM. I am sure.

Guizhi constitution can be more seen in models, young girls, students who prefer learning but physical exercise. They look weaker among crowd.

(2). Chaihu constitution

People with Chaihu constitution show stronger and tight muscle.  They are sensitive to variation of emotion stimulation, and environment physical or chemical changes. They are easy to be disturbed by others emotional express to feel anxiety or stress. They can feel hot or cold easily. They pay much attention to what happens to their body. They want to know anything about health, asking doctor more questions, and tell doctor more and in detail story about their body. They are easy to feel discomfort in their throat, bloating in stomach, bad taste in mouth, or dizzy feel too. They have more chance to have tight feelings on their shoulders, between shoulder blade and jaw (TMJ) too. They have more emotional trouble, stress or anxiety.

These group of people tend to have better healing effect to herb formula that contain herb Chaihu, so that it is called Chaihu constitution. Examples for such herb formula are Xiao Chaihu Tang, Chaihu jia Longgu Muli Tang, Si Ni San, Chaihu shugan Wan…

Chaihu constitution can be seen in people such as labor workers and office staff too. They are operating people.

(3). Dahuang constitution

People with Dahuang constitution look red in face with oil tint on it (oil-red in color). Their lips are thick and dark red in color. They are much stronger than in muscle than those with Chaihu constitution.  They tend to have strong odor in their mouth or urine, have constipation, bloating in whole stomach area. In TCM, it means more “Fire” in the body, but the Fire is deeper in the stomach-intestine cavity (Huangliang constitution is also with Fire but its Fire relatively on surface level, more on head, eyes, gum, emotion). They are more tolerance to outside stimulations, emotionally or physically. They have good appetite and like to drink ice-cold water. Their mouth tends to be dry, and have less sweat. They are those who tend to have higher blood cholesterol level or higher blood pressure. When touch, their stomach is tight and feels resistant. When sleep, they tend to produce loud noise – loud snooze. All in all, you should pay much attention to their tongue that is more typical for Dahuang constitution: tongue looks “Old”, since it looks thick, narrow on tip, dark red in color with thicker tongue covering. You can find more people with Dahuang constitution in those of patients with acute infection diseases.

You can find people with Dahuang constitution in middle-aged persons, man is more. Herb formula contain Dahuang are Da Chengqi Tang, Xiao Chengqi Tang, Tiaowei Chengqi Tang,  Fangfen Tongsheng Wang, or most of l herbs formula for lose weight.

(4). Huanglian constitution

People with Huangliang constitution also look red in face but it is more drier, not as the oil-red color face as in Dahuang constitution. They have no big stomach as those with Dahuang constitution either. Their tongue look also “old” but not as older as those seen in Dahuang constitution. The tongue is red or dark red in color. The tongue covering tends to be dry, and yellow in color but usually not thick.

People with the Huangliang constitution also have more “Fire” in their body. They feel more anxiety, irritable, nervous too. They have higher chance to have poor sleep, early wake-up. They also tend to have bloating feelings in stomach area. You see, the burning of the Fire in brain causing emotional trouble; in stomach, causing stomach pain, bloating and nausea; in gum, causing infection there (pain, bleeding, and even abscess); in eye, causing dry eyes with red color; and so on. They are all caused by “Fire”.

Huangling constitution seems more in people with blood type A. They tend to make everything in order. They hate un-organized work or environment. They expect things “exactly”. Their less “tolerance” makes them irritable to environment stimulation.

(5). Ganjiang constitution

People with Ganjiang constitution are those people opposite to people with Dahuang constitution. Dahuang constitution is more “Fire”, where as the Ganjiang constitution is more “Cold”. But there is another constitution called Fuzi constitution, which is also “Cold”, but it is relatively “Dry Cold”, whereas the Ganjiang constitution is more “Water Cold” in its nature.

People with the Ganjiang constitution show lower level of body metabolism. Any liquid out of their body (such as saliva, urine, stool, phlegm) tends to be as thin as water. They do not feel thirsty; prefer warm and hate cold. They are less active and have less interest to outside environment. The most typical mark for those people is also their tongue. The tongue is light red in color with thick and white tongue covering. Note: the white tongue covering is usually over whole tongue.

(6). Fuzi constitution

Fuzi constitution is also a “Cold” constitution, but much colder than Ganjiang constitution. People with the Fuzi constitution is almost as a “cold stone”, whereas the Gangjiang constitution can be understand as a “Cold water”. This is their difference. Fuzi constitution shows  much less emotional and physical activity than the Ganjiang constitution (so the whole person reacts as a “stone”). They feel much cold in hands and/or feet; more prefer to warm and hot; no energy to handle daily life (always in a drowsy condition); feel drowsy day and night. Their pulse is typical: it feels deeper, weaker and thinner. Their tongue could be thin, small, wet with purple in tint.

The herb formula containing Fuzi are, as example, Sini Tang, Fuzi lizhong Wan, and Zhenwu Tang.

In modern life, there are more and more people show such Fuzi constitution and Ganjiang constitution. Our experience, they can account up to more than 60% to 70% of our clients. Therefore, the use of herb formula contain Fuzi and Ganjiang is very common in our clinic. It is interesting that the herbs, Fuzi and Ganjiang, are actually our Chinese daily vegetables! As a TCM doctor, you must know how and when to use the Fuzi-containing herbs.

(7). Huangqi constitution

If you know someone, who looks overweight, have sweat easily, have swelling in legs. You have to suspect that they are Huangqi constitution. These people have white skin color, tend to have numbness in hands, have less physical energy. The whole body looks as a water-containing bag. If there is ulcer in skin, it is hard to close to cure. They don’t like strong air-conditioning environment, similar to Guizhi constitution. But the body of Guizhi constitution is thinner than the Huangqi constitution. There is no typical tongue or pulse indicating the Huangqi constitution.

Typical herbs containing Huangqi is the famous Buzhong Yiqi Tang, which is normally used to nourish Qi in the body. Most of TCM students have learn it in school, but you should know that, it may not work properly in people who is thin in body shape and is dry in skin. This is a tip.

Other Huangqi containing herb formula is Yupingfen San, used for over sweat condition; Fangji Huangqi Tang, for chronic arthritis in knees (with sweat in the knees especially); Huangqi Guizhi Wuwo Tang (for limb numb, sour, and weak); Huangqi Jianzhong Tang (for chronic gastric ulcer, but the patient likes to eat warm food, the stomach pain can be released after eating); and Buyang Huangwu Tang (for paralysis). 

(8). Banxia Constitution

Banxia is used to clear Phlegm in the body. The concept of the Phlegm is a broad concept. It includes but much more than the phlegm that comes out of the throat after cough. Phlegm can move and stay in any part of the body. If it is in head, causing headache; in joints, causing arthritis; in stomach, causing nausea; in heart, causing coronary heart disease; in throat, causing tingling feeling in throat; in uterus, causing stop of period, more discharge, and infertility; in skin, causing mass under the skin, that feels no pain, no itch, no skin color change…

People with the Banxia constitution tend to be sensitive to odors and taste to have nausea. It is very hard for them to drink herb tea or eat whatever they dislike. Their faces look darker: no bright tint on the face. Their tongue covering is more typical for the diagnosis: the tongue covering is white and as oil. (the tongue covering for Ganjiang constitution is also white but thicker). Depending on if there is Fire or Cold in the body, the color of the tongue covering can be either yellow-white and dry or white and wet.

Most commonly used herb formula containing Banxia is Xiao Banxia Tang (for nausea caused by Phlegm accumulation); Ercheng Tang (for nausea and stomach bloating, or cough); Wendan Tang (for phobia, scare feeling, insomnia, dizziness, etc.); Da Banxia Tang (for vomiting, the content of the vomiting is that person eat in previous meal); Banxia Houpu Tang (for irritable feelings in throat); Banxia Baizhu Tianma Tang (for dizziness); and Banxia Xiexing Tang (for stomach bloating feelings).

(9). Shigao constitution

Person with Shigao constitution is as they are in summer: they feel hot, have heavy sweat, feel very dry in mouth and drink lots of cold water. Their tongue is dry and pulse feels big. The Shigao constitution is similar to Dahuang constitution, but the Dahuang constitution shows much more in the stomach area: person feels bloating and pain in stomach, has constipation. The tongue for the Dahuang constitution is red and the tongue covering is thick and dry. Whereas the Shigao constitution has less typical tongue color or tongue covering change. The Shigao constitution is also needed to be separated with Guizhi constitution since both have sweat, hot and bigger pulse. But the Guizhi constitution hates wind or strong air-conditioned environment, whereas the Shigao constitution hate hot and like wind and cold. Shigao constitution is more in acute disease, whereas the Guizhi constitution is more seen in chronic disease process. The Shigao constitution is also similar to Huanglian constitution in that both belong to “Fire” condition in the body. But the Huanglian constitution is more affecting the emotion and stomach per se, causing pain and bloating feelings in the stomach; whereas the Shigao constitution shows more the hot feeling and sweat (the skin temperature may not be high, due to sweat).

Famous herbs that contain Shigao is Shigao Tang, and Shigao jia Renshen Tang. The former is used mostly in clinic conditions similar to acute infection condition; and the later can be more used in the later stage of the acute infection diseases. In our hands, we use the later formula more in post menopause condition for women with hot flash. It works very well. It is also used for the treatment of type II diabetes in the TCM, but patient should show hot feeling and dry mouth. If you use it in patients who have higher blood sugar level but no such hot feeling and dry mouth, it doesn’t work and also dangerous. When you use Chinese herbs, you should follow its own indications. If you use it according to the disease condition diagnosed by conventional medicine, you may make the patient’s condition worse. You cann’t feed the grass, that is supposed to feed cow, to rat. Those both are animal. If you modify the TCM and make it not works, I recommend that you should not call yourself TCM doctor. You can name yourself whatever instead.

Other popularly used herbs that contain Shigao is Zhuye Shigao Tang (for dry mouth, chronic fatigue); and Xiaofeng San (for skin diseases).

(10). More constitutions

There are more body constitutions indicating the use of individual herbs as the main ingredient in a formula. It is not the aim for this article here to introduce all of them. Also, readers have to know that, in a person, various constitution can happen at the same time. For example, person with basic Guizhi constitution may have stronger hot feeling. We may add Shigao in the formula of Guizhi Tang. This is a common sense. Also, not all herbs have their specific body mark to tell a constitution. But the summary of the above constitution is enough to help a herbalist settle down most of clinic conditions.