Personalized acupuncture treatment with Sasang typology


Han Chae(a), Jeongyun Lee(b,c), EunSang Jeon(d), JaeKyu Kim(e)

  • (a) Division of Longevity and Biofunctional Medicine, School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Korea
  • (b) Department of Sasang Constitutional Medicine, Pusan National University Korean Medicine Hospital, Korea
  • (c) Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Korea
  • (d) Department of Alternative Medicine, Medipol Mega Hospital, Turkey
  • (e) Division of Clinical medicine, School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Korea

<Integrative Medicine Research; 6 ( 2 0 1 7 ) 329–336>


The personalized medicine for effective and safe treatment has long been of interest since Hippocrates and Galen of the West and Yellow Emperor and Ayurveda of the East and was encouraged with the recent Human Genome Project.1–3 The Sasang typology is a traditional Korean personalized medicine systematically theorized by Jema Lee (1837–1900) and his book Longevity and Life Preservation in Eastern Medicine (1894, 1900) ased on Confucius understandings on human nature and thousands years of clinical experiences in Korea.2–5
The Sasang typology divides people into four Sasang types, Tae-Yang, So-Yang, Tae-Eum, and So-Eum, with type-specific psy-chobiological traits2,6 and pathophysiological symptoms.7,8 The Sasang type-specific treatments with medical herbs9 and acupuncture could be applied considering one’s Sasang type in combination with cold–hot subgroup and severity of the illness (Table 1).

Although the Sasang typology showed its clinical usefulness10–17 and seems relatively simple, the clinical application of Sasang type-specific treatment has not been easy even with many articles and books on it. In many cases, clinicians have failed to incorporate it from the mis-understandings on theories and limited understanding on diagnosis, thereby making the clinical usefulness of Sasang typology suspicious. Therefore, evidence-based and detailed explanations on the diagnosis and treatment of a patient with Sasang typology are needed for the interested clini-cians. In this review, we systematically describe the clinical application of Sasang typology from the Sasang type differ-entiation with type-specific pathophysiological symptoms7,8 to the Tae-Geuk (Tai-Chi in English) Acupuncture (TGA) with type-specific acupuncture points.8,18
TGA was originally suggested by Dr Byunhaeng Lee with reference to the Sasang typology and clinical experiences in 1974,19 and Dr Jaekyu Kim introduced the clinical examination technique of Insang Park and Jungjae Kim20 and reported its clinical efficacy previously.18,21
Jema Lee wrote his experience with type-specific acupunc-ture treatment in his book as “Previously, I have met So-Eum Sasang type patient suffering from digestive system qi prob-lems and was successfully treated with acupuncture on LI4. And I also experienced immediate effects of acupunc-ture treatment that the medications couldn’t get. Since there would be acupuncture technique useful for the Sasang typology, the Sasang type-specific points and manipulation technique should be improvised to control the Sasang type-specific pathophysiological mechanisms.”4

Though TGA was not suggested in Jema Lee’s original book, it was systematized by the clinical specialist of acupuncture, and its clinical efficacy on chronic pains in multiple sites and psychosomatic complaints were supported with retrospec-tive studies.18,20–22 TGA was reported to be useful for instant confirmation of Sasang type differentiation with simple test; however, it was out of reach for the foreign clinicians until now since up-to-date reports on Sasang type differentiation2,6–8,23 have not been supplemented with detailed clinical procedures of TGA.
This study would provide clinical procedures of acupunc-ture treatment with Sasang typology (Fig. 1) along with general features of each Sasang type for diagnosis (Table 1; Fig. 2), Sasang type-specific acupuncture points (Table 1), and methods for examining clinical response to TGA (Fig. 3). It would provide a gateway for Sasang type-specific acupunc-ture treatment and more structured clinical research on its effectiveness.24 



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