Men hotheads, women forgetful, herbalists find

Hong Kong men tend to be more hot-tempered and women more prone to forgetfulness, say herbalists at a public clinic who tested hundreds of patients over six months last year. Both sexes lack sleep and tire easily, they also found.

The Centre of Integrated Health Management at Kwong Wah Hospital, which opened in May, divides health into nine 'body constitutions' - balanced, idiosyncratic, qi-deficient, yang-deficient, yin-deficient, phlegm-damp, damp-heat, qi-stagnant and blood-stasis.

Qi is a concept in traditional medicine that roughly translates into the Western idea of life force or spiritual energy. The categories were developed in 2005 by Wang Qi, a leading academic at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.

Eight constitutions, excluding the 'balanced' type, are deemed detrimental to long-term health.

Of 829 people who had their health assessed at the centre between May and October, most men fell into the damp-heat category while most women were qi-deficient.

Damp-heat people are hot-tempered and easily agitated, according to traditional medicine. They have oily skin, are prone to acne, and are more likely to develop jaundice.

Qi-deficient people have a weak voice, weak hair and are introverted. They tend to catch flu more easily.

Centre manager Professor Li Handong said knowing your body constitution allowed herbalists to prescribe medicine that was in harmony with the body. People could also improve their health by eating appropriate foods and adjusting their lifestyles.

'People with hypertension and diabetes tend to be the phlegm-damp type,' she said.

'If we know the body constitution in advance, we can prevent these diseases accordingly.'

Damp-heat types were influenced by Hong Kong's humidity and heat. Women tended to be qi-deficient because they were more likely to sit in offices for long periods and less likely than men to exercise.

The centre targets specific body disorders, such as poor digestion, obesity, neck and back pain and chronic weariness.

All visitors must be assessed before being streamed to specialist clinics. A one-hour body check costs HK$200.

With so many Hongkongers lacking sleep, the centre plans to open an insomnia clinic in two months' time.

A Ms Lam, who has attended the clinic since October, said she slept badly and always felt drowsy. Western medical check-ups had revealed nothing abnormal.

A check-up at the centre showed that she was yin-deficient. On a herbalist's advice, Lam now avoids eating food that is not in harmony with her type, such as ginger and garlic and prepares herself suitable soups and herbal teas.

'In the past I thought ginger tea would clear my drowsiness. It turns out that it was actually bad for my health,' she said. Her drowsiness had cleared by about 80 per cent.

What most men and women are

Damp-heat type (most common among men)

either too fat or too thin

have oily skin and pimples

develop jaundice more easily

hot-tempered and easily get agitated

should avoid eating sweet, spicy or deep-fried foods

Qi-deficient (most common among women)

mostly thin and pale; have a weak and low voice

introverted and timid

always feel drowsy; more forgetful

catch flu more easily than others and take longer to recover

should avoid eating cold foods, eg sashimi and ice cream, and spicy foods

Source: TWGHs Centre of Integrated Health Management