Feeling Hot or Cold All the Time? What Your Body Constitution Reveals

a woman sitting on a chair feeling cold

Ever felt like different foods affect you differently? You may be right! Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient form of health care that believes different body types arise from differing combinations of yin and yang qualities. It’s based on the philosophy that “balance” is the key to health and longevity. In TCM, understanding what your constitution is can help you make informed decisions about your diet and lifestyle—from choosing the right herbs to understand why certain memories feel more vivid than others. Unlock the secrets of TCM for total wellness and learn more about yourself with body constitutions.

TCM believes that everyone has different body compositions. Your elemental profile plays a part in your constitutional makeup, which can be altered throughout your lifetime due to various influences. For instance, even if you're born with a fiery disposition – filled with powerful energies of yang– this can still be depleted due to practices such as an excessive consumption of cold-natured foods over a prolonged period.

Everyone is different. The unique qualities of your own body can be the reason why your friend may thrive on a raw foods diet, while you may have digestive issues; your constitutions are not alike. Or maybe your friend can drink copious amounts of coffee with no issue, but you become jittery after even a single cup. It all falls down to the body's constitution.

So what are they? Here’s the rundown:

9 Body Constitutions in Traditional Chinese Medicine

We all have unique bodies and life experiences, so it makes sense that there is no single one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to health and wellness. TCM takes this idea of individualized care to the next level by recognizing nine distinct body constitutions that are determined primarily by genetics, lifestyle, and your environment.

Each constitution has its own strengths and weaknesses, as well as patterns of diagnosis and treatment, so understanding your body’s particular makeup can help you craft a healing plan that works for you. From Qi Deficiency and Yin Deficiency to Blood Stasis and Phlegm & Dampness, let’s explore the nine classic TCM body constitutions.


Individuals possess a robust physical frame, stable mental/emotional state, and an optimistic outlook. They often exhibit healthy skin and hair, clear eyesight, keen senses of taste and smell, full lips, an unwavering resistance to fatigue, good sleep patterns and appetite, regular bowel movements, and normal urination. They have the capacity to adjust to environmental transformations.

Qi deficient

People typically have weak muscles and tend to be shy and introverted. They usually have a faint voice, difficulty breathing, exhaustion, are prone to colds or the flu, perspire easily and have visible marks on the edge of their tongue. They are highly susceptible to environmental changes, making it difficult for them to recuperate from sicknesses due to an impaired immune system.

Yang deficient

Individuals with weak muscles and timid, introverted personalities typically complain of having cold hands and feet, feeling chilly in their stomachs, being sensitive to loud noise or low temperatures, fatigue, queasiness after consuming cold food, and a pale plus large tongue. They often feel uncomfortable in windy, cold and damp places. Additionally, they are prone to health issues like bloating, diarrhea and excessive mucus secretions.

Yin deficient

Individuals usually have a slender figure and tend to be extroverted and impetuous in their personalities. They often express dissatisfaction with warm hands and feet, dry mouth, nasal dryness, and an affinity for cold drinks. Furthermore, they become uneasy in hot, arid settings. Moreover, they are prone to coughing fits, weariness, spontaneous ejaculations, sleeplessness, and persistent illnesses.

Qi stagnation

People tend to be thin, emotionally volatile, gloomy and distrusting. They often show a low mood, nervousness and anxiety, shyness, and an inclination to sighing and palpitations. When under stress - especially during winter, autumn and rainy days - their response is usually inadequate. They are vulnerable to sleeplessness, depression, anxiety disorder, as well as lumps in the chest.

Phlegm & dampness

Individuals tend to be overweight, with a tendency to have a protruding stomach and mild temperaments, often present with facial oiliness, sweet or sticky tastes in their mouths, excessive throat mucus, sweating, chest tightness, a craving for sugary and greasy food items and a thick coating on their tongue. Humid and rainy conditions often cause discomfort in these individuals. Furthermore, they are potentially at risk of developing diabetes, metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular diseases.

Blood stasis

Individuals are often known to be easily distracted and not remember things very well. They may appear with a pale, spotty complexion, dark-red lips, dark circles under their eyes, lackluster or coarse skin, odd bruises on their body and/or unsightly varicose veins. Those individuals tend to feel chilly in cold temperatures and are prone to bleedings and other ailments or abnormal growths.


Individuals who are either slim or of average build tend to be snappy and quick-tempered. They typically have an oily face that breaks out with pimples and acne oftenly, a sour or acidic taste in their mouth, exhaustion or lassitude of the body, incomplete sensation after evacuating bowels or hard stools, yellow urine, ampler female genital discharges, wet scrota for males and a yellowish greasy tongue coating. They are sensitive to hot and moist conditions particularly in late summer or early fall. Also, they are prone to skin issues and urinary woes.

Side note: Need help understanding what damp is and how it affects you? Check out the video above ⇪ to get insight from TCM Doctor Karina Smith. Learn how a few changes in your everyday life can help ease symptoms of damp.

Special constitution type

Individuals typically have innate deficiencies, making them particularly susceptible to drugs, foods, aromas, pollen, and other environmental irritants. Such people may manifest symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, a runny nose, panting, wheals (raised itchy bumps), itchiness or even purple spots or patches on the skin. Health problems commonly associated with these individuals include allergies to medication; hay fever; eczema; and asthma. Moreover, they fare badly when confronted with external nuisances and can quickly become unwell due to seasonal changes.

Factors that impact our constitution

As we age, our bodies undergo transformation, men usually possess more qi than women, emotions may cause an imbalance to our bodies if not kept in check, and the environments we live in are characterized by distinct climates, diet and custom. It is important to remember that all these elements can affect our constitution.

The Takeaway

Many factors affect our body composition, from our living environment and mental state to diet and daily activities. Most of us have a dominant constitution, yet there is often a combination of influences at work – such as yin deficiency and damp-heat, qi deficiency and dampness, or qi stagnation and blood stagnation. By being conscious of how these elements can impact our wellbeing, we can strive for balance in our lives.

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