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Ayurveda and TCM:Comparison of Basic Forces and Constitutions

by Durgadas, R.A.P, AYT, Ved Kovid

Dip. Nat., Dip. P. Psych,

ALC, Ayu. Clin, Ayu. Pharm, AMPKT, AMBT, Ayu. Astr.

(c) Durgadas (Rodney) Lingham / Arogya Ayurvedic Health Ltd

All Rights Reserved.


Basic Concepts:

The three forces of Qi, Yin and Yang correspond to Prana (breath or life-force), Ojas (vitality) and Tejas (radiance) in the Hindu system. Yin-Yang also correspond to the two viryas or potencies relating to energetics of foods in the Ayurvedic system of shita (cool), a Yin-energy and ushna (hot), a Yang-energy. 

In the Vedas, these energies were represented by the terms Soma (Yin-energy, as lunar, vitality and feminine) and Agni (Yang-energy, as fire or a solar-energy, metabolism, heat and a masculine energy). They are also better expressed by the deities dual-deities Mitra-Varuna, here, Mitra as the Sun and Day representing the Yang-energy and Varuna as the Cosmic Waters, Moon and Night, representing the Yin-energy. The two go together in the Rig Veda, the oldest text of the Hindus, upholding cosmic law (rta).

Constitutional Issues:

Ayurveda typically works with a dual-elemental model of Vata (air and ether), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth) and their various combinations of seven main types (adding combinations of Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha, Pitta-Kapha and Vata-Pitta-Kapha).

These are formed in two ways – one as the Prakriti of the person or their own biological nature, determined by genetic and other factors, which remains fixed through the lifetime and the Vikriti or temporal change from nature, also known as a dosha (vitiation / blemish), which is how Vata, Pitta and Kapha are viewed in a negative sense as causing disease when in excess. In a positive sense, they are known as dhatus (that which upholds).

Hence, both TCM and Ayurveda employ the five-elements and cosmic systems of Praja-Tejas-Ojas and Qi-Yang-Ying. The Hindu Ayurvedic system represents the five elements in a slightly different manner, adding akasha (ether) and vayu (air) to the other elements of fire, water and earth that are also used in TCM.

While in the Hindu system, the gallbladder and liver are Pitta-organs, they are Wood in the TCM system and correspond to the element of wind, or Vayu of the Hindu system, whereas Metal corresponds to the large-intestine and sky, hence Akasha or ether / space of the Hindu system, giving us correlations between the elements.

Nine-fold Types:

The Nine-fold Constitutional type in TCM however, can be connected to the Hindu system of the Navagrahas or Nine-Planets. Yet, there also exist some differences between the element and planetary correspondences of the two systems and some similarities.

Moon and Sun are Yin and Yang, which connect to Kapha-Ojas and Pitta-Tejas of the Hindu system respectively. Whereas Saturn represents air in the Hindu system, it is earth in the TCM system; Jupiter is ether in the Hindu system and wood (air) in the TCM system; Venus is water in the Hindu system, but Metal (thus ether) in the TCM system, while Mercury is earth in the Hindu system and in TCM, it is water. Mars however is fire in both systems.

Naturally however, these change as per their elemental-makeup and doshic models in Ayurvedic astrology. However, we can connect the Nine-Fold TCM system of Constitutional Types and disorders with the planets they correspond to of the Navagrahas (nine planets) in the Vedic-system.

There are however, many ways this can be expressed and there is no clear-cut or one-way definitive correlation between the two systems – but there are similarities, based upon the closest approximations. 

Here we can note the factors relative to both vikriti (deviation from natural state / disease) and also Prakriti (individual constitution)

Rahu –  Qi Deficiency
Rahu is the north-lunar node, the head of the dragon and ecliptic (as well as a formless) shadowy planet more a pure Vata (as ether) type and thus causes coldness, dryness etc. as the air-element of Prana is not there to balance it out. It is the head without a body and hence lacks any grounding, since akasha or ether is pure space alone as sattvas or purity, with not even action (rajas) present as it is in Vata.  Rahu represents Vata in its more toxic stage (amavata) relating to rheumatic disorders.

Ketu – Qi Stagnation
Ketu is the south lunar node, the tail of the dragon and a formless planet like Rahu, who represents the stagnating form of Vata or Prana which manifests anger, anxiety etc. caused by the headless Ketu, who represents the paranormal side of Mars (blood stasis) with some Vata added there also. It is hence unpredictable in nature and extremely emotional – the proverbial headless constitution.

Jupiter – Damp-Heat
Jupiter is a Kapha-Pitta type with a slightly higher percentage of water to fire ratio and thus creates a kind of “damp-heat” type constitution and disorders. 

Saturn – Genetic deficiency
Saturn is predominantly pure Vata (air) which causes a vitiation to our ojas or vitality (yin) and thus creates a predisposition for allergies and diseases of a more genetic nature and weakness overall. Saturn is also the planet of karma, representing genetic conditions and a fragile and extremely weak constitution.

Mercury – Yin-Yang Harmony
Mercury holds the energies of all five elements of Vata (air+ether), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth) equally

Moon – Yang Deficiency
The moon is very cold and composed Kapha-Vata with a predominant of water and only a secondary nature of air. It lacks therefore, the warmer natures of fire and craves it, always feeling cold in extremities and lacking enthusiasm and metabolism.

Mars – Blood-Stasis
Mars is more a Pitta-Rakta type, with fire+water vitiating the blood and causing several disorders. As a more purely Pitta-type, it has 50% fire and 50% water, which easily creates disorders in the blood-system itself by an excess of either of these. When blood combines with Pitta in Ayurveda, it stagnates and causes diseases due to an excess of bile such as hepatitis and jaundice.

Venus – Phlegm-Dampness
Venus is Kapha with a a 75% water and 25% earth makeup. Being mainly a watery and emotional planet, it combines with earth also, as it is also the planet of materialism and density, creating our desires to manifest physically.  It is more damp than the Moon however, owing to the asuric or negative nature which connects to the celestial Soma, guarded by the Bhargava Seers and correlating to the goddess Lakshmi (Venus, Aphrodite), herself born from the churning of the ocean of milk (kshira).

Sun – Yin Deficiency
The Sun is Pitta, but is the fire that burns out our ojas and is hot, lacking Yin, being Kapha and grounding (water and earth). Such types hence dislike the hot climates represented by the Sun.

Ninefold Types and the Gunas:

Another way we can express these is the eight-fold virya or potencies of Ayurveda: 
mrdu (mild), tikshna (sharp), guru (heavy), laghu (light), snigdha (unctuous), uksha (dry), shita (cold), ushna (hot). The ninth would connect to the Yin-Yang Harmony type in TCM, where all such are in balance, connecting to the balance of the two main potencies in Ayurveda of hot (ushna) and cold (shita).

We hence see that there are possibilities of connections within each system itself, if we examine them from primal roots. 

There are many combinations here that can correlated to the TCM systems. Naturally however, TCM employs a five-element system, as some original forms of Ayurveda also do. 

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Ayurveda and Diets: Some Clarity

I am vegetarian/vegan. Isn’t this Ayurvedic?

A: Whilst certain diets and those such as juicing, veganism and vegetarianism can be fine for certain people, it goes even far beyond what dosha a person has predominantly and has to be weighed up against various factors such as environment, age, sex, locality, seasonal effects, psychological typing, genetic suitabilities and any psychological disorders in addition to nay disorders and ones metabolism (enzymatic effect).

Thus, Ayurveda recommends such and even various combinations and manners of cooking foods (or not) relative to preparation after all of these are considered during a full Ayurvedic examination by a trained practitioner. Ayurveda recommends meat for some people and abstaining from such for others, depending upon such factors.

This is also that why vegans and vegetarians sometimes argue the higher amount of iron in certain vegetables or greens as spinach, they are harder to absorb than in meats (eastern diets consider methods to properly metabolise and absorb these, as well as heavier supplements); an absence of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an Omega-3 fat, predominantly found in fish, which is useful for eye and brain health among other things, which is lacking in vegan diets.

Certain cultures were vegetarian historically, but Ayurveda views such, relative to suitability over generations, rather than fad-diets and health-implications these may cause. Here, traditionally foreigners in Ayurvedic hospitals were given their local dietary substances (or closest to), so as it didn’t alter with their nutrition as it has evolved. Radical changes (as from meat to vegetarian or vegetarian to meat diets) can cause severe health concerns.

Book a consultation with us to find out what is best for you.

Is it good not to eat animals?

A: Yes, however, we must remember that many food articles that are deemed karmically ‘evolved’ as animals don’t stop there; many substances and foods that are consumed by those in modern Ayurveda and Yoga movements such as chillies, garlic, onions and wine are considered more evolved or causing issues to the mind in orthodox traditional Brahmin circles of India, who have been habituated to such regimes over thousands of years. If their people took up eating of meats, they would also have issues, just as westerners and others adopting such vegan and vegetarian trends without a full understanding or examination.

Ayurveda understands this as satmya (suitability) and notes that not all foods and substances are good for, nor should be avoided for all races (those in various geographic regions) based on their genetic suitability and evolution. The French Diet for example contains many fats, yet the French have themselves become accustomed to eating such foods and thus consumption doesn’t affect them. They also eat in smaller portions.

Other diets such as the Mediterranean diet are well-known to be useful for a number of disorders from cardiovascular to inflammatory conditions. Yet, again, much depends upon ones own suitability to such, as also relative to diseases. Generic diets, due to food energetics can actually cause issues for many, due to poor metabolism.

Cultural/genetic suitability here must be remembered as the Classical Ayurvedic teaching over emotional virtue-signalling or sanctimoniousness.

Durgadas has explained this in his many books on Yoga and Classical Ayurveda, which are available from, Barnes and Noble etc.

Book a consultation with us to find out what is best for you.

I have been having raw foods and also kale smoothies for breakfast. I heard this is healthy for me?

A: As noted, the Ayurvedic system works on a different level of energetics to other systems, dietary fads and medical systems. It even treats diabetes according to twenty different types – so there is a lot of specificity in Ayurvedic medicine compared to mere allopathic-based diets and biochemical models.

Hence, many factors are considered in classical Ayurveda and being even beyond one’s biology, which itself can be finely-tuned into many sub-categories also. Thus, even one pitta person in Ayurveda wouldn’t be treated the same as another, given their unique sensitivities and refined nature as well.

Raw foods and those such as kale, whilst can be useful for reducing acidity in the body for example, aren’t always useful in Ayurveda and can be seen to cause complications and even causative factors behind long-term diseases for others. Again, age, sex, locations, climates, environmental impressions and numerous other factors have to be considered, as well as best combinations for you.

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