Look around any room full of people and you will see many different features.
Some people have big builds while others are frail. One will have a reddish complexion, the next looks like they wear a shadow as a mask, while still another appears to glow. Some of us sweat easily though others barely do. Some have chronically loose stools, some are constipated, others alternate between the two…you get the picture.
These differences offer very important clues as to what a person needs to be healthy, but modern medicine practically ignores them. Instead of seeing symptoms as signs, pharmaceuticals are given to eliminate them.
But the problem is, symptoms usually keep coming back because they are the body’s response to whatever is out of balance. This is why constitutional medicine is important.
Your constitution is what you were born with: the color of your hair and skin, your build, your tendency toward dampness or dryness, heat or cold, etc. But constitution doesn’t stop there. In addition to the traits we are born with, it is important to look at what we are presenting in the moment.
Symptoms will have a tendency to fall into certain categories depending on constitution.
For example, after spending 3 months in the Arizona heat during the summer, an individual may find that they are presenting many symptoms of dryness and heat, such as constipation, excessive thirst, and headache.
Instead of taking laxatives and painkillers, while they are presenting these symptoms they would do well to eat more grains, soups, sweet and raw vegetables, fruits, and drink lots of water.
On the other hand, their friend may have a constitution that is generally more inclined toward dampness. This person would thrive in Arizona, but starts to feel really bloated and sluggish when they spend the winter rainy-season in the Pacific Northwest. They also have a headache, but since they have a different constitution and are in different climatic circumstances, the opposite approach is needed. In this case they would do best to avoid sweet foods, which can lead to more dampness, and eat more pungent, salty, and bitter flavors instead to help get rid of the excess moisture in their system.
These are just two examples of how important constitution can be when considering what is needed to feel better.
Herbalism and other natural medicine modalities look at the individual in this wholistic way, evaluating both what symptoms the person presents in the moment and what their general tendencies are.
By looking at all of these factors it is possible to find a balance in diet and lifestyle so symptoms simply disappear.
Western pharmaceutical-based medicine, on the other hand, is a reductionist approach, attempting to eliminate one symptom at a time without looking at the bigger picture. While it is very effective in the short-term, the long-term consequences can lead to increased discomfort.
So next time you hear something is “healthy” or a “miracle cure” take a look at it, but remain critical.
Nothing is good for everybody all the time.
Want to know more about your personal constitution?