Biotypes – what makes us so unique
The biotype is the genotype common to a group of individuals, and the genotype in turn is the set of genetic information of a cell, an organism or individual or specific part of that genetic information. In essence, it is a genetic predisposition to certain conditions and observable characteristics (phenotypes).
The idea of biotypes has been developed over time in different areas of study; i´ll start in psychiatry, by the conventional theory of somatotypes, personalities and psychiatric diseases of Kretschmer and Sheldon, 1925 &1940; Kretschmer believed in 4 biotypes, while William Sheldon, an American psychologist and physician, built a classification system that associated physiology and psychology into 3 biotypes: rounded, mole-like endomorphs that have a tendency towards a relaxed, comfortable and outgoing personality; mesomorphs, square and with a good muscle frame, that tend towards an active, dynamic, assertive and aggressive personality; and ectomorphs, who are thin and struggle to gain weight as either body fat or muscle; have a tendency towards an introverted, thought-out, inhibited and sensitive personality. These 3 are generally well accepted by today’s scientific community – you have certainly crossed paths with these by now.
All these theories result from clinical experience and observation. Nowadays it is already feasible to test these theories (the foundation) by conducting control tests using advanced genetic methods. Read the following study which concludes – “genetic correlation analysis is a powerful tool for (re)discovering unexpected links between psychiatric disorders and other phenotypes (Bulik-Sullivan et al. 2015). Thus, the current trend to carry out such analyses intensively could bring to light new links or reinforce as previously identified, correlation to psychiatric disorders”.
AYURVEDA AND DOSHAS
Based on the five elements arises the tridosha theory. The doshas are basic energies that exist in unique proportions in each organism, food and even season. Every dosha has an essential role to play and none is better than the other. As a general rule, each human being has a predominant dosha that explains their mental, physical, emotional and behavioral profiles. Some have two and others – rarer cases – have characteristics of the three dohas in equal proportions. Whatever the combination, it is called prakrti and is determined at the time of conception. It is important to know how to keep doshas in harmony to avoid imbalances and, in more critical imbalance versions, disease. You can read more about Ayurveda, doshas questionnaires to determine the most prevalent dosha, and what to expect from the therapeutic evaluation in this post.
In summary, Dosha Vata governs movement and communication: breathing, heartbeat, muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses, creative expression, etc. More common in musicians, painters, gymnasts, etc. The qualities that characterize dosha vata – cold, light, dry, rough, mobile, subtle – are also those that tend to unbalance it. Foods such as raw salads, nuts and soft drinks are the recipe for imbalance. The organ that tends to show the first signs of imbalance is the colon (large intestine) – flatulence, abdominal swelling, constipation, diarrhea, among others. Knowing how to balance it is to foster more stability and endurance to your life.
Dosha Pitta represents the energy of transformation: food digestion, cellular metabolism, processing experiences and emotions, maintaining body temperature, etc. More common in leaders, entrepreneurs, commercial, activists, etc. The qualities of this dosha – warm, light, oily, smooth, mobile, penetrating – give it a fantastic digestive capacity and persuasive abilities. To maintain a balanced pitta it is important to avoid spicy, fermented and fried foods, alcohol and caffeine as much as possible. The organ that tends to show the first signs of imbalance is the duodenum (small intestine) – heartburn, diarrhea, fever and rashes. Knowing how to balance it is to foster calm and acceptance of errors in your life.
Dosha Kapha is the structuring base of any organism. It represents cellular protection and hydration, joint lubrication and maintenance of a strong immune system. This dosha characterizes the feelings of love and compassion as well as the ability to live without haste. More common in health professionals, caregivers, humanitarian activities, etc. The qualities that characterize this dosha – cold, heavy, oily, smooth, solid, dense – offer a tendency to fall into lethargy, inertia and excess weight. Therefore, it is important to counter this trend. When dosha kapha is aggravated the digestion become slower due to excess mucus in the stomach, the airways become congested (sinusitis, cough with sputum, etc.), the body swells up because the lymphatic system gets overloaded – hence it is of vital importance the detox in this type of predominant dosha.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE AND THE 5 ELEMENTS
The evaluation in the ERM is much broader than the 5 elements – there is even a classification of temperaments dating back to the year 200 .c. – but for this purpose we will focus on the identification of biotypes or constitutions Wood, Water, Earth, Fire and Metal and how these elements have specific characteristics – based on physical outlook, personality, common health problems, and adaptation to external environment.- that allow the therapist to identify which is the most prevalent in a given patient (it is not always determined in a single session, requiring a more detailed investigation throughout the therapeutic process).
For a more specific look, therapists may use other terms: neutral, qi deficiency, yang deficiency, yin deficiency, blood stasis, phlegm & dampness, damp-heat, qi stagnation and special constitution, all related to one or more elements.
Wood Constitution: symbolizes life, yang growth, the first movement, spring. Morphologically tall, thin, with large hands and feet, as well as the eyes, presenting a good musculature. In childhood they may have allergies to the sun or food; they are usually turbulent, nervous, with tics and gnaw their nails. In adults may present morning fatigue, emotional instability, memory failures, aggressiveness, and agitation. They are prone to diseases such as food allergies, hives, eczema, herpes, conjunctivitis, myopia, vesicle seizures, occipital or frontal pain, tachycardia, vertigo and claustrophobia.
Water Constitution: symbolizes the last season, immobility, the beginning of the end of the cycle. Physically are long, have darker skin, fat belly, high forehead, thin nose, dark circles around the eyes, short and soft hands. AS children present thinness, are cold, may have delay in the onset of puberty; they are characterized by being sensitive, discreet, sad and introverted. In adults they have little vitality, frailty, overall fatigue and poor memory. The mood is depressing or melancholy, the disinterest almost constant. In physical terms, you may have a tendency to cystitis, urinary infections, low back pain, arthrosis, and a deficient immune system.
Earth Constitution: morphologically these subjects are obese, have a round face, tendency to present thick lips, large and chubby hands and feet. The newborn is large, usually are children easy to educate, cheerful, carefree and sleepy; it often has constipation, intestinal parasites, hiccups and enuresis. Adults are resistant to prolonged stress. Fatigue comes in short but intense bouts, with a sudden sense of hunger. It may also be prone to gastralgias, ulcers, thrush, hernias, diabetes, obesity, cellulitis, edemas, diarrhea or constipation, ovulation disorders, menstrual irregularities, frigidity, premature ejaculation, and baldness.
Fire Constitution: subjects have reddish skin, small head, rounded hips, small hands and feet. In children they can be hypersensitive, lying, influenced, of variable mood, disobedient and agitated. In adults suffer from brutal fatigue, depression and short sleep. However, they enjoy an extraordinary memory and an unusual ability to concentrate. They may be prone to diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, tachycardia, angina pectoris, hypotension or hypertension, cholesterol, etc.
Metal Constitution. It symbolizes mature age, spirituality, introspection. Morphologically they are thin, with dry white skin, long nose, long narrow hands with long and inflexible fingers. Metal children are thin, lacking appetite and pale. They usually suffer from rhinopharyngitis, bronchitis, otitis, asthma, eczema, and constipation. They’re wise, but they’re distracted. In adults they have fatigue, little muscle tone, and need to sleep early and for a long time. They may develop bronchitis, sinusitis, rhinitis, emphysema, and tuberculosis, skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. Tendinitis, and slack ligaments. At the endocrine level you may have hypothyroidism.
Source: PERSONALITY TRAITS IN THE LIGHT OF TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM), Margarida Oliveira Acupunctora. Clinical Psychologist, 2007
Developed by Prof. Carlos Beretta it presents itself as a study of the essence of the human being. This is based on ancestral medicine, the conclusions obtained by Jung and other specialists in the field of psychiatry/psychology and the theory of anthropophysiology, created by Rudolf Steiner, which focuses on the human being as a spiritual being who has the power to increase their consciousness and deliberate on their thoughts and actions. This view recognizes 4 biotypes:
BLOOD Type: usually energy donors, naïve, not too concerned about appearance. Burly, strong bones and light walking. Optimistic and enthusiastic, quite capricious. Exaggerated appetite. When unbalanced, these characteristics can develop heart and arterial problems (as hypertension).
RENAL Type: they have a selective ear and perceive tiny details and defects. Perfectionists prefer to relate to older people. Thick and bulky hair, sexuality goes from 8 to 80. They may develop, when unbalanced, problems in the urinary and renal tracts.
LUNG Type: focused on practical and material efficiency, have a very good aesthetic perception. Tend to be melancholic. Slender body. The pathologies that affect this type are usually those related to joints and bones (arthritis and arthrosis).
LIVER Type: transformers, born leaders. True to their ideas, they get mental pleasure and are intuitive. Muscular body, usually light skin. When in stress, they can respond with digestive (dyspepsia, gastralgias, etc) and/or metabolic problems.
Each of the biotypes is identified from a physical and personality point of view, integrating one’s relationship with the world. When balanced, the individual is able to manifest the best of his potentialities. However, when these unbalanced, the individual can manifest disease. This categorization may guide to self-knowledge and health promotion, if it is well determined.
Knowing our particularities helps us guide our choices to live in a more harmonious and healthy way – whether those are food, relationships, career, behavioral, among other choices that we make in the course of our existence – either simpler choices, either more complex ones. None of the biotype identification approaches mentioned above is better or worse – there is even an overlap of ideas, just presented differently! The interpretation of oriental medicines will be different from conventional ones, so it is so important for those who make the diagnosis to expand the spectrum of categorization, in order to approach the true nature of each one that is assessed.
The information presented is merely informative, of a generic nature, not containing a comprehensive analysis of all aspects of the themes analyzed, so it does not replace a consultation with a specialized therapist.