Working out the Constitution

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First impressions vs. complexity

Genetics play a huge part in this whole subject and each of us has a natural inclination to be one of the four constitutions from birth. That said there are many other key factors, such as lifestyle, environment & nutrition, that influence just how much hotter, cooler, dryer or damper a person then becomes.

Sometimes it is very easy to identify a person's constitution; their look and manner of moving, speaking etc. are so characteristic that any questions one might later ask are merely to check and confirm the first impression. People are complex though, sometimes the constitution is not obvious and one needs to ask questions with an open mind until you can be sure where they sit on the spectrums.

Generally, it is easier to work out someone else's constitution your own but, so long as you keep an open mind and don't rush to decide, it always eventually falls into place...


Hotter to Cooler

Start with the hot to cool spectrum because it is usually the easier one to work out and, in many cases, just one or two questions can confirm the first impression or tell you where the person sits

The following questions are written out much as they are asked in real life. It is vital to ask in an open way, with no bias of one answer being the right one, or a better one, than another.

Feeling the heat or cold

1) "Do you feel the heat more easily or do you feel the cold more easily - is it easier for you to get too hot or too cold?"

No-one wants to feel too hot and certainly no-one wants to feel too cold. That said, the further someone sits along either side of the spectrum the more emphatic tends to be their answer. Markedly cool constitutions often give an unreserved exclamation of 'the cold!' Clearly hot constitutions don't have to think before answering 'too hot!'.

Feel like you sit in the middle?

No-one ever sits exactly in the middle but it is quite common that a person will sit closer to the middle on one of the two spectrums whilst being much further to one side of the other. Many Bear constitutions, for example, will pause for thought before answering because they are particularly discomforted by being both too hot or too cold.

If you or they could go either way on any of the 'working it out' questions that follow, then it may be because you or they are closer to the middle of that spectrum. Don't worry about it, take an impression of the side it veers towards and move on to the next question, the picture will eventually become clear.


Dressing up or down

2) "Imagine you are at an outdoor gathering where it's casual dress, comparing yourself to the other people there, would you be wearing more layers of clothing than average or less layers of clothing than average?"

This can be a particularly useful question for picking out the cooler constitutions who are usually well aware that they need to have extra layers to keep comfortable and have often looked at others in short sleeves, open shoes etc. on cooler days and wondered how they can do it.

Hotter constitutions are usually less aware of their need for extra layers so may look a bit vague when asked this question, unless they are further out to the edge of the spectrum and have heard a few comments about how hot-blooded they must be to only need to dress so lightly.

This question can also be morphed into how a person compares themselves to others in their home or work environment because if they are a 'hottie' then they may be the one who often wants to open windows, turn off heaters, throw off bed-covers etc. but if they are a cooler constitution they may be the one who often wants to turn up the heat, add blankets, keep out drafts etc.

Sipping style

3) "When you get a hot drink of something do you prefer to sip it whilst it's still hot or do you prefer to let it cool first?"

This one can be influenced by habit and upbringing however, there's often a close correlation with the cooler constitutions wanting the extra heat of sipping their drink hot, whereas the hotter constitutions don't need to get any hotter and so prefer their drinks cooler.

Which one are you?

There are more ways to assess this still to come so don't worry if you aren'y sure, but if you already identify with being a hotter constitution then you are going to either be an Eagle or a Tiger whereas if you identify with being a cooler constitution then you are going to be a Bear or an EB (Elephant/Butterfly). How you know which one of those two options is you will be determined where you sit on the next spectrum; dryer to damper.


Dryer to Damper

The dryer to damper spectrum can be trickier to work out, particularly because imbalances in health can influence it so much. Remember to ask the questions of yourself or the person you are doing this with in an open way and be willing to take an overall impression if there are any uncertainties.

Hard or easy to sweat

4) "Do you sweat quite easily or does it take a lot to get you to perspire?"

The answer to this question will be affected by the person's level of fitness and the kind of climate they are in but there is usually a strong association with dryer constitutions taking a lot more to get a sweat going (very dry people may say they hardly sweat at all) whereas damper constitutions will usually sweat more easily and a very damp person may sweat quite profusely.

Skin type

5) "Does the skin on your body or your feet tend to be more dry and flaky or more oily and moist?"

The further a person is to the edge of the dryer or damper spectrum the more they tend to notice a relative dryness or oiliness in their skin however, be aware that many people will say their skin is dry if they only think about areas that they shave or moisturise, which cause things to dry out.



6) "Now I want to ask you about mucus! The 'goo' that we all make to some extent in our noses, throats, even our ears, all the openings in our bodies - do you think that you are quite a generous mucus producer or do you think that you are a fairly scanty mucus producer?"

This can be a particularly useful question to bring out the damper constitutions because, whilst a dryer person may simply not be much aware of making much mucus and so give you a kind of blank or half-hearted response, the damper a person is the more they know they produce plenty of bodily fluids.

That said you must be careful not to be thrown by a dryer person with some kind of environmental allergy or chronic infection that is giving them some congestion because they akways find mucus particularly uncomfortable and will emphasise its presence when asked. The mucus the dryer constitutions produce is scanty but prone to getting stuck whereas damper constitutions make mucus that is much runnier and easier to pass.


7) "From mucus to bowels, if we said that a normal bowel motion was like a soft, ripe banana, would you say that you were usually like that or that you tend to go softer and looser or harder and dryer?"

People who tend markedly to the dryer side of the spectrum are often prone to getting dryer stools and may even suffer from constipation whereas people on the damper side often get looser motions. However, of course this also depends on the diet and health of the bowel so don't be thrown if the answer to this, or any of the above, seems in contrast to the general pattern.

If you clearly identify with being a damper constitution, then you will be a Tiger or a Bear whereas if you clearly identify with being a dryer constitution, then you will be an Eagle or an EB (Elephant/Butterfly).

Which one are you?

Don't worry if you are not completely clear from the above questions because there is more information below that can help further. However, if your signs or answers are clearly towards one side of the hotter to cooler spectrum and one side of the dryer to damper spectrum then you now know which one you are.

~ If you clearly tend towards being hotter and damper then you are a Tiger
~ If you clearly tend towards being hotter and dryer then you are an Eagle
~ If you clearly tend towards being cooler & dryer then you are an EB (Elephant/Butterfly)
~ If you clearly tend towards being cooler & damper then you are a Bear

~ Tigers: Hotter & Damper

~ Eagles: Hotter & Dryer

~ Elephant/Butterflies: Cooler & Dryer

~ Bears: Cooler & Damper


Observable patterns

The following notes are especially for students of these old ways but also for anyone who takes a special interest for their own reasons. You can use your senses to deepen your impression of the constitution by observing the complexion, the voice and the hands.


On average, the further a person tends towards the hotter side of the spectrum the ruddier will be their complexion and, vice versa, the more a person tends to the cool side of the spectrum the paler they will typically appear. Do be aware that many other factors can influence this though, level of sun-exposure obviously, but also things like anaemia that can cause paleness or a chronic inflammatory condition that can cause the skin to flush.

It is also easy to observe whether a person has visibly dry or oily skin and so get an immediate impression as to whether they are likely to be on the drier or damper side of the spectrum. It also should be noted that damp constitutions can get acne well into adult life. Do be aware that skin-care products can mess with the natural balance, plus people have some odd ideas about themselves, many a person has emphatically told me that their skin is dry when I can see for myself the natural oily 'sheen' of their skin.


A person's voice is as unique as their fingerprints but there are observable patterns amongst the constitutions. On average, the hotter constitutions tend to speak more loudly and, well, more heatedly! Whereas the further a person sits on the cooler side of the spectrum the quieter or more one-to-one their speaking tends to be. Of course, this is also greatly affected by factors such as how confident they feel with whom they are talking as well as how they feel about what is being said!

The dryer to damper spectrum shows up in the voice in more subtle ways - dryer constitutions tend to have lighter voices and, if in the right company or they are on a subject that is close to their heart, they can really talk a lot! Damper constitutions might not have quite so much 'air' and so could speak a bit less on average but they also have more 'density' in their voices; you'll soon start hearing what I mean if you tune into it.

The 'Quicks' & the Nails

Under the nail is a rich bed of blood vessels that is easy to observe - the 'quick'. Hotter constitutions typically have redder 'quicks' whereas the cooler a person is the paler their 'quicks' tend to be.

Dryer constitutions will often have dry skin around the edges of their nails and may have a visible brittleness in the nails themselves. Damper constitutions often have an untreated 'sheen' to their nail and they can start to look puffy when they become overly congested.


The Weather

On a cold day, it can be easy to spot the constitutional types who are out nearer the end of their spectrums, the 'cooler' people are well wrapped up with extra layers whilst the 'hotties' can be walking around in shorts and tee-shirts.

Dryer constitutions can feel much relief when, after a dry spell, the rain finally comes. Conversely, a damper person can start to feel oppressed by a run of heavy, humid days and feel a great deal better in themselves when the clouds lift and things start drying out.

Some Tigers will feel quite out of sorts in hot and humid weather and get much relief when it cools down or the humidity is released by the rain. Tigers often must be careful not to get overheated at night and can do well to cool their bodies down before going to bed.


Most Eagles really hate to be cold and you must compare their relatively lower need to dress up and warm their homes or workplaces to see that they actually do have a hotter or faster metabolism than average. It's notable that most Eagles don't thrive in arid climates or dry weather and are drawn to water to get the balance they instinctively need.


EBs emphatically do not enjoy the cold but also find that overly long dry spells leave them out of sorts. and feel much better when the weather moistens up, many find themselves natural lovers of clouds! EBs must be wary of cold winds but if there is no air-movement they soon start to crave the moisture that fresh-air brings.


Most Bears start to feel oppressed or out of sorts from too much cold or rainy weather and do much better when things properly heat up and dry out. If the sky is blue and the sun is shining, they can do well to literally dry out in the sun. Or, the next best thing for them to dry out is to get near a fire.

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!




© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd