According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory and practice, one’s constitution plays a critical role in the diagnosis and treatment of disharmony and illness. This is because our constitutional “type” is the foundation upon which all other influences impact our lives and in part, determine our general health. A person’s constitution is essentially the canvas upon which the paint is brushed… In this analogy, whatever is applied to the surface of the canvas, will be influenced by the very fabric itself; color, texture, drying time, you get the idea.
The ancients described a reservoir of substance that exists within each of us known as the Prenatal Essence. This essence is passed to us by our parents and ancestors and determines our features, characteristics, as well as other qualities of our mind and body. Prenatal essence ultimately contributes to all aspects of our human development and is often likened to our genetic makeup.
In addition to the pre-natal, another type of vital substance is described that is called post-natal essence. Post-natal essence is that which we acquire and cultivate from our environment from the time we are conceived, to the day we die. It is derived from food, water, air and all else that we take in. Together, these 2 forms of essence, pre and post natal, combine and create the basis of our being. As these substances blend our attributes become manifest. They may be robust, they may be frail.
As we move through life our essence is consumed. It may happen quickly, slowly, erratically or steadily depending on how we live and the influences that impact our body and mind. Things like aging, gender, medication, stress levels, climactic factors, where we live, environmental toxins, access to healthcare and many other factors, can all influence our essence. However when can choose to cultivate our post-natal essence through eating well, living a balanced life and avoiding those things that deplete our reserves. In turn, we can experience more vitality, greater health and a stronger constitution.