Finding Balance: Using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Jan 26, 2017 | Health & Wellness

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a more than 5000 year old system of healing, there are five basic constitutional types, based on the five Chinese elements: water, wood, fire, earth and metal. Discovering your predominate constitutional type and balancing the elements is a key to maximizing your health in
Chinese medicine philosophy. To find out which element(s) you need to balance look over the list of characteristics below:

Chinese Herbs- Characteristics

If the personality trait or health tendency currently describes you, put a 2 in the white circle to the right of the characteristic. If it is a problem or trait you used to have, put a 1 in the circle. Total your scores at the bottom. The element with the highest score generally indicates your constitutional type and what element you should use supplements for first.

How to use the Chinese Formulas

When using NSP Chinese formulas, pick the one that most closely matches your profile and use it first. Example: If your highest score is wood start with wood formulas. Determine whether you are experiencing an excess or deficient condition and choose accordingly. After that area improves, you can try another formula if you have another strong imbalance.

Which constitutional type describes you?

Complete the survey on the next page to discover your Chinese constitution and which element you need to balance your health according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Water—related to the kidneys and bladder. Water people are calm, patient and peaceful.
Wood—related to the liver and gallbladder. Wood people are bold, driven and decisive.
Fire—related to the nervous, circulatory and glandular systems. Fire people are charismatic and charming.
Earth—related to the stomach and pancreas. Earth people are nurturing, helpful and loyal.
Metal—related to the lungs and colon. Metal people are precise, orderly and reserved.

Water Element

Related to the kidneys and bladder. Water people are calm, patient and peaceful.

Excess condition: Scanty or clear urine; fluid retention, edema; damp tongue with moist coating; puffy under eyes.

Deficient condition: Frequent, urgent urination; brittle bones, weak structure; pale tongue, often dry; dark circles under eyes.

Kidney Activator TCM Concentrate (Excess condition)

  • Decreases water energy.
  • The Chinese call this formula qu shi, which can be translated as “to get rid of dampness.”
  • K-C is designed to promote kidney function and help clear retained water from the body, which may positively affect joints.

KB-C (Deficient condition)

  • The water element in TCM philosophy is related to the kidneys and bladder.
  • The Chinese call this formula jian gu, which can be translated to mean “strengthen the bones.” In TCM water is believed to carry nourishment for the bones and regulate metabolism through the urinary system.

Wood Element

Related to the blood and the liver and gallbladder. Wood people are bold, driven and decisive.

Excess condition: Reddish complexion; menstrual pain; angry, irritable feelings; active and tense.

Deficient condition: Depressed, discouraged feelings; fatigue. When the wood element is deficient, the person can feel discouraged and lose his/her drive and ambition.

Blood Stimulator TCM Concentrate  (Deficient condition)

  • The therapeutic principle for strengthening the wood element is called Bu Xue, which means in TCM to “nurture the blood.”
  • Wood formulas for deficient conditions usually contain tonic herbs thought to support the Yin.

Liver Balance  (Excess condition)

  • The wood element in TCM philosophy is related to the liver and gallbladder.
  • Bupleurum is the most important “cooling herb” according to Chinese herbology. It is believed to aid the upward flow of chi, or the body’s living force, thereby strengthening the body against stress.

Fire Element

Related to the nervous, circulatory and glandular systems. Fire people are charismatic and charming.

Excess condition: Restless, fast moving; mania, overly enthusiastic; difficulty getting to sleep; red tip on tongue.

Deficient condition: Extreme fatigue; feeling “overwhelmed” and burned out; difficulty staying asleep; quivering tongue.


Nervous Fatigue TCM (Deficient condition)

  • HS-C is a TCM tonic formula relating to the Fire Element and the seat of fire being the heart, nerves and glands.
  • The principle of strengthening the Fire Element is called Yang Xin , which means to nurture the ‘broken’ heart.

Stress Relief TCM  (Excess condition)

  • Decreases fire or hyper personality and stressful.
  • The Chinese call this formula an shen, which can be translated to mean “to pacify the spirit.”

Earth Element

Related to the stomach and pancreas. Earth people are nurturing, helpful and loyal.

Excess condition: Acute acid indigestion; belching with foul taste in mouth; abdominal pain or discomfort; heavily coated tongue.

Deficient condition: Lack of HCI (hydrochloric acid), poor protein digestion; food sits heavy in the stomach; chronically poor appetite; pale tongue.

Nature’s Chi TCM  (Deficient condition)

  • Increases earth energy.
  • The Chinese call this formula wen zhong, which can be translated to mean “warm the center.” Chronic weakness of the digestive organs, including the intestines, is considered to be a “cold” condition.

Anti-Gas TCM Concentrate  (Excess condition)

  • Dispels excess earth.
  • The therapeutic principle for relieving the excess earth element is called xiao dao, which can be translated to mean “clear the congestion.”

Metal Element

Related to the lungs, colon and mucosal membrane. Metal people are precise, orderly and reserved.

Excess condition: Heavy mucus production; acute respiratory congestion; productive (damp) cough, moisture; excessive grieving, sadness.

Deficient condition: Scant mucus production; chronic respiratory weakness; dry cough, tightness in chest; aloof and emotionally distant, repressed grief.

Breathe Activator  (Deficient condition)

  • The therapeutic principle for relieving the excess metal element is called xuan fei , which can be translated to mean “ventilate the lungs” or open the breathing air ways.

Lung Support TCM (Excess condition)

  • Chinese call this formula fu lei, which can be translated to mean “strengthen the weak and thin.” In TCM philosophy it is believed that when the metal element is weak, the upper body and respiratory system are affected.


An important concept in Chinese medicine is chi (also known as qi ). Chi is the vital life energy of the body and is considered essential for all life. The chi flows through the body following pathways called meridians. Meridians flow through the internal organs and are named after the organ which they flow through. Illness and imbalance occurs when the chi is blocked or becomes stagnant in any of these meridian channels. Therefore, the goal in Chinese medicine and herbology is to keep the chi flowing unobstructed in order to maintain optimum health.

Deficient chi: General weakness and lethargy; pale face and tongue; lack of appetite; soft-spoken, quiet; shallow breathing.

Stagnant chi: Soft lumps; dark purplish tongue; rebellious chi (energy flowing in the wrong direction); wiry or tense pulse; anxiety and depression.

Chi-regulating Formulas

Chinese herbal combinations to enhance and maximize the flow of chi throughout the body systems and organs.

Trigger Immune® TCM (Increase deficient chi)

  • Increases chi.
  • In TCM this formula is designed to strengthen a weakened energy constitution.
  • Deficient conditions in TCM.
  • IMM-C is a TCM formula designed to build and strengthen the immune system. The principle of therapy is called sheng mai which can be translated to mean “generate the pulse.”

Chinese Mineral Chi Tonic

(Increase deficient chi)

  • Overall chi tonic.
  • Provides electrolytes for energy.
  • Provides 180 mg of potassium per tablespoon (15 mL).
  • Exclusive TCM formula liquid mineral concentrate and time honored Chinese tonic herbs.

Mood Elevator TCM (Formula to unblock and move stagnant chi)

  • Considered a chi-regulating formula
  • In TCM this formula is thought to unblock stagnant chi.
  • The Chinese call this formula jie yu, which can be translated to mean “relieve anxiety and tension.” According to TCM, when the liver is functioning at its peak, positive mood may be maintained.
  • Excess conditions in TCM.

Yin & Yang-regulating Formulas

The other important concept in Chinese medicine is yin and yang which stems from a basic Chinese concept of the interdependence and relationship of opposites. Much like hot cannot be understood without cold, yin cannot exist without its opposite yang, and vice versa. Together the two poles are complementary and form a whole, much like a battery cannot generate a charge without its positive and negative poles. In relation to health issues, yin deficiency means the body’s organs do not have enough raw material to function; in yang deficiency, the body’s organs don’t react adequately when needed. In traditional Chinese medicine, the goal is to balance the yin and the yang. Imbalances disrupt energy flow and compromise optimum health.

Chinese herbal combinations to balance the complementary forces of yin and yang.

Deficient yin: Burning sensation in skin, palms and feet; night sweats, insomnia; dry skin, eyes, mouth; constant thirst with frequent urination; agitation.

Excess yang: Fever or fever with chills; sore throat, gums; eye irritation (red, bloodshot); heat, dryness; craving for cold foods and drinks; bright red tongue; redness, acute inflammation; rapid, floating pulse.


(Reduces excess yang)

  • Yang formula (heat).
  • Main TCM principle of therapy called Qing Re, which means to clean the heat.
  • IF-C, according to TCM, quenches the fire element and restores balance by clearing toxins.
  • Similar to traditional Western herbology, blood purifying formulas, but differs in that the therapies in TCM are much broader in scope.


(Increase deficient yin)

  • Yin nourishing formula.
  • For the person experiencing what is called in TCM “heat syndrome” with a deficient or weakened Constitution.
  • The therapeutic principle is Bu Yin, literally meaning to supplement the Yin, which is the fluid portion of the body, according to TCM philosophy.

Some of NSP’s Chinese formulas contain over 15 synergistic herbal ingredients, representing ancient Chinese herbal recipes. For dose and risk information refer to the product label. This information is for educational purposes only and not meant to replace your health care provider’s advice or treat or diagnose
any disease.

Source: The source and inspiration of the Traditional Chinese Medicine information in this Guide came from the work of Steven Horne and his Tree Of Light Institute. We are greatly indebted to the knowledge and inspiration he has provided to the world on the use of herbal formulas in TCM.