Constitutional Acupuncture: The Future of Medicine? Part 1

Constitutional Acupuncture: My experience with using constitutional acupuncture to treat digestive and hormonal issues.

Disclaimer #1: First things first. This could be a fairly controversial topic, especially in the very passionate and sometimes heated discussion filled world of health and fitness. We welcome discussion here at, so feel free to leave your comments below, but please note this is merely an objective documentation of my experience with constitutional acupuncture. I am in the process of learning more about the subject and am sharing what I am learning along the way with you. Disclaimer #2: Guys, this may be a little TMI for you. Read at your own discretion. Just sayin…

A Little History

As far back as I can remember I have had digestive issues. In previous posts I have detailed my journey toward health and fitness and a big part of that journey has dealt with not just fat loss, but also many internal issues as well. I believe the root to these problems stems from a combo of unhealthy eating, usage of a long string of over the counter weight loss pills, and then the biggest culprit of all, in 2005 I decided to stop taking birth control pills after being on them for many years, which threw my hormones into a tailspin. Today, in 2009, I am still in the process of regaining a normal menstrual cycle and figuring out how to get my internal system as a whole back on track.

The Body as a System

Everything in the body is connected, and I have learned that sustained health really is a delicate harmony. If the hormones aren’t functioning properly, that affects all sorts of functions within the body and vice versa. When I lived in Michigan I was seeing an alternative doctor (Dr Jantz) who was treating my symptoms with Nutritional Response Testing (NRT), which is a method of muscle testing, and I was taking various supplements to help my body to regain optimal health and wellness. For those of you that are not familiar, muscle testing essentially uses a person’s muscle strength to measure and test whether or not certain things that we are often exposed to, such as foods and chemicals, cause stress or an imbalance when introduced to the body. Without going into too much detail here (this could be a whole article in and of itself), Dr Jantz found that I had a multitude of things going on internally – from Candida (often linked to years of birth control or antibiotic use), to a sluggish gallbladder, to a sluggish thyroid, and an old kidney infection that was just kinda hanging out causing issues. Again... all connected. During the time that I was seeing him for treatment, I saw a lot of improvements in my health. When I moved to California I discontinued my treatment with him, which… discontinued my progress. Over the past few months I have wanted to get back on course with my treatment, but am interested in finding a solution that allows me to rely less on supplementation. My goal is to bring my body to a point where I do not need to rely on supplementation at all, and can maintain my newly regained health totally on my own. Note: I have been to my primary care physician and gyno and according to them all is A-OK, and their suggestion is for me to go back on birth control. Um…. No.

Constitutional Acupuncture

I have heard a lot of great things about acupuncture. I recently made a visit to skincare expert, Nerida Joy, and she referred me to her acupuncturist, Dr Kim, who practices a special kind of acupuncture, based on what is called constitutions. She explained a bit about how it works, and I was intrigued. I decided that even though the type of insurance I have doesn’t cover acupuncture (PPOs typically do, HMOs do not), I would make an appointment and see how it goes. My motto is this – I would rather pay money now to get my body to a natural state of health, than to continue on, knowing that I’ve got some issues going on, and have to pay a much bigger price, both physically and financially, later on. I made my first visit to see Dr Kim two weeks ago and man, was it info packed. I LOVE doctors that teach! He started by asking me all kinds of questions about my symptoms, history, and even a few questions that I found especially interesting, like what are my favorite foods and what foods I absolutely despise. He then began to give me the background behind constitutional acupuncture. Each person has a specific constitution, similar to a body type, that is inherited from either both or one of his/her parents, which determines the body’s inherent strengths and weaknesses. Once a person’s constitution is determined, true health can be discovered and maintained, through following a diet based on the foods that are complimentary with that constitution. It is believed by constitutional acupuncturists that all disease and illness can be cured by a combination of constitutional acupuncture treatment and following the diet guidelines of a person’s constitution. According to Dr Kim, constitutional acupuncture dates back to Hippocrates, aka the “father of medicine.” It is believed that constitutional acupuncture was included in his original teachings of medicine, but was then removed, because there was no scientific way to prove a constitution. Dr Kim went on to explain that modern medicine has only really figured out how to prove a person’s blood type over the past 70 or so years, so it is still a fairly new discovery. He believes that when we figure out how to prove constitutions, it will be so important that it will be printed on our driver’s licenses because it will offer doctors that much information about us, and is that crucial to our health.

Obvious Body Constitutions in Nature

The doctor used the example of animals. A lion or a tiger is a meat eater. They would sooner die of starvation than eat a piece of lettuce. They intuitively know to eat meat. Same with animals that are plant eaters. The reason for this is because of the arrangement of their internal organs. They are designed to be able to digest certain types of food and not others. Human beings are omnivores, so we can eat both, but for a combination of reasons linked to where our ancestors lived, what food sources were available, etc we are able to digest certain foods better than others. This is where our constitution comes into play. When we eat foods that do not align with our particular constitution, that is when we get symptoms such as heartburn, gas, indigestion, acne, hormonal upset, constipation, bloat, sickness, and over the long-term, disease. When we eat foods that are complimentary to our constitution, we feel good, full of energy, and do not have any of the symptoms above. We have simply lost our intuitive guide as to what our body is telling us to eat. Over years and years of eating the wrong stuff, we don't know how to listen to our bodies anymore. He went on to say that this is why scientists have such a difficult time proving whether or not certain things are good or bad for us (i.e. coffee, red meat, eggs, dairy, and even such things as prescription medicine, etc) because when they do the studies, they are using people of different constitutions, so the data will always be skewed to match the particular constitutions of the people used in the study. More on this later. Also, he explained that this is why the Blood Type Diet was on the right track, but incorrect, because if we really were to base our foods on our blood type, this would mean that some lions should eat vegetables and not meat, and some elephants should eat meat instead of plants, and obviously this is not the case in nature.

How is One’s Body Constitution Determined?

Dr Kim explained that based upon the information that he gathered from me earlier in the visit, along with the muscle testing he was about to do, he was going to start narrowing down my constitution. He said that muscle testing gives some clues, but is not perfect. It’s the combination of information that allows him to figure out my exact constitution. He would then use acupuncture to bring my body back to its natural alignment and strengthen the areas that need a boost. Now it was time for the muscle testing, in order to find out what foods I am allergic to, and what foods are good for me. I had some guesses, dairy for one is something I have always thought I had an aversion to, so I was excited to find out what the verdict was. Click here to read Part 2
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