Lately, the concept of the Constitutional Factor (CF) has come up a lot in conversations with my patients; those conversations have mostly revolved around how they deal with people in their lives – including themselves – and I thought it might be interesting to dive a bit deeper into this fascinating topic.
The Constitutional Factor can be described as the primary imbalance in a person’s Qi. It is present at birth and remains constant throughout life. CF is the lens through which we see (and respond to) life, and of course it also includes our knee jerk reactions.
Your Constitutional Factor is based on observable signs as opposed to symptoms. These observations include the use of inappropriate emotional responses, the colour of your face, the sound of your voice, and your body odour. An out-of-balance CF will cause other elements/organs to go out of balance as well. Treating the root of a CF imbalance with acupuncture can restore balance.
The five elements are used to describe CF: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water – and in this post I will talk in more detail about Wood and Fire.
A Wood CF diagnosis is made by observing a green complexion, a shouting or lack of shouting voice, a rancid odour, and an imbalance in the emotion of anger. The key emotion for the Wood CF is anger, and can express itself as frustration, resentment, irritation, bitterness, rage, wrath, fury, outrage, or indignation. It can, however, also express itself as the lack of anger, with the person being unassertive, timid, meek, hesitant, or depressed.
The organs associated with a Wood CF are the liver and gallbladder.
The healthy Wood element allows people to have a clear vision of their own path in life, as well as the wisdom to allow for it to unfold naturally. It allows people to consider their various options and weigh the outcomes that are likely to occur.
The main issues for a Wood Constitutional Factor are boundaries, power, being correct, and personal growth & development.
Typical behavioural patterns of a Wood CF are along a spectrum and can vary in extremes:
- assertive and direct —- passive and indirect
- seeking justice —- apathetic
- rigid —- over flexible
- excessively organized —- disorganized
- frustrated and defiant —- over-obedient and compliant
A Fire CF diagnosis is made by observing a red or lack of red complexion, a laughing voice tone or lack of laughing, a scorched body odour, and an imbalance in the emotion of joy. The key emotion for the Fire CF is joy, and can express itself as excitement, elation, euphoria, exhilaration, excessive enthusiasm, or mania. It can, however, also express itself as the lack of joy, displaying feelings of misery, unhappiness, despair, gloom, sorrow, flatness, melancholy, and downheartedness.
The organs associated with a Fire CF are the heart, small intestine, pericardium, and San Jiao.
The healthy and balanced Fire CF allows a person to give and receive love with the appropriate amount of emotional closeness. It is a reliable filter for knowing how and when it is appropriate to either open up or shut down towards another person. Children who tends to feel easily hurt or rejected often overcompensate as a defensive coping strategy, resulting in keeping their hearts closed off from other people.
The main issues for a Fire CF are love and warmth, emotional volatility, closeness and intimacy, happiness, and clarity & confusion.
Typical behavioural patterns of a Fire CF are on a spectrum and can go between the following extremes:
- compulsively cheerful — miserable
- open and overly sociable — closed and isolated
- clowning — earnest
- vulnerable — over-protective
- volatile — flat
In the next blog, I will talk about the remaining three elements – Earth, Metal, and Water.