Korean Constitutional Medicine and the Nei Jing

Korean Constitutional Medicine, or Sasang, is attributed to Dr. Jema Lee (1836~1900).  The premise is that all humans fall into one of four body types, or constitutions. Understanding the differences of each type can help physicians better treat patients as their treatments would become ever more precise.  South Korean researchers at public and private hospitals have gone great lengths to prove that measurable, objective differences exist.  

Many Korean medical texts claim that this is an original idea from Dr. Lee, and many Chinese physicians claim that Sasang has nothing to do with Chinese medicine.  

The foundational and one of the oldest texts of Eastern Medicine called, Huang Di Nei Jing, was written in China thousands of years ago and will let us know is Sasang is a uniquely Korean invention.  First, the four body types of Sasang are:

1. Tai Yang Person
2. Shao Yang Person
3. Tai Yin Person
4. Shao Yin Person
Not all texts mention this, but some Korean Sasang experts will acknowledge the existence of a fifth type, the Yin Yang Balanced Person.

Chapter 72 in the second half of Huang Di Nei Jing describes body types:

“Regarding [body types] there is the Tai Yang person, the Shao Yang person, the Tai Yin person, the Shao Yin person, [and] the Yin Yang balanced person. The appearance of each of the five types are different, the sinews, bones, qi, blood, all differ.”

This proves that the four types come from the Huang Di Nei Jing, which is thousands of years older.  Sasang is an expansion of the ancient body types in that it specifies which medications, foods, activities, etc., better fit each type from the Huang Di Nei Jing, which is not mentioned therein. While Sasang is not an original idea from Dr. Lee, his work as well as modern research done in South Korea has made advances enriching the ancient text, making better treatments for each body type possible, and at the same time proving true, the ideas of the Huang Di Nei Jing.

Published by Raul Ramirez, L.Ac., Ph.D.

Physician, Catch Wrestler, Kickboxer, Vegan, Progressive

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