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What Does The Genome Project Have In Common With Korean Constitutional Medicine?

The much-heralded Genome Project seeks to identify, and map, the genetic identity of an individual. The project’s rationale is not only to treat medical ailments with methods specifically formulated for a persons’ particular genetic identity but also to use the map to identify predispositions and susceptibility to certain ailments and diseases. When all the findings have been collected and systematized, the resultant impact on the medical world will surely be phenomenal. The bad news is that it will be a long time before the benefits are available to ordinary folks.

The good news is that you don’t have to wait!

Predisposed Doesn’t Mean Predestined!

Korean Constitutional Medicine, while little understood in the U.S., is well known for its effectiveness in both Asia and Europe. It already classifies humans into four genetic types, termed ‘constitutions’, then further into subdivisions. As a result, both the treatments and herbal medicines are prescribed according to a patient’s particular genetic type. In general, most doctors decide medical treatment or examination based on the disease of the patient. However,the Korean Constitutional Medicine uses a different prescription and treatment according to the physical constitution of the patient.

“Treatment that works for one patient may be ineffective or harmful to another simply because of their hereditary differences. The ability to individualize the diagnosis is the key to successful treatment”, says Dr. Puramo Chong, who is renown as one of the world’s foremost practitioners of KCM. To help with the identification of the constitutions accurately, he devised a unique pulse method that identifies the main constitution and does not change with either the disease state or time. Dr. Chong then further refined both the constitutional aspects and (the method of) acupuncture.

In addition, Dr. Chong’s treatment methods are being adopted in Europe as well as Asia. One doctor who came from Germany to study under Dr. Chong reported the following when he began to incorporate the KCM techniques into his own practice.

…”In my clinic I observed the following: the patients felts immediately better subjectively and the improvement continued. The fact that many fewer needles are used, …makes the patient more comfortable and willing to endure the treatment. Western patients are much more needle sensitive than oriental patients who are used to acupuncture approaches to their ailments, so the fewer needles the better. In addition, Dr Chong's description of the nutritional aspects that can aggravate a condition or ameliorate it is very helpful for my clients. …The bottom line is that each patient should have treatment depending on his/her intrinsic constitution.”

Korean Constitutional Medicine

SCM is Korea's peculiar medicine which was originated with Lee Che-ma in 1894.

And it classifies human being into four types of constitution and presents custom-made treatments and medications according to different constitution of an individual. Especially, SCM takes a very effective approach in treating incurable diseases, compared to traditional Chinese medicine, because it treats disease in different ways or different diseases in the same way on the principle that each individual's constitution is specific and that the symptoms and treatment of the disease depends on the individual's constitutional characteristics. Depending on inherent physical constitution, there are four categories of constitution: Taeyang, Taeum, Soyang and Soum. The occurrence of diseases depends on the physiological and pathological characteristics of each physical constitution, requiring that the treatment method be, in principle, contingent on physical constitution rather than each disease.

No constitution is particularly resistant to any disease. Each constitution has a group of diseases to which it is especially vulnerable. Thus, only correct diagnosis of individual constitution may result in an effective treatment.

Four Categories of Constitution: Soyang, Soum, Taeum and Taeyang

01 Soyang-in
An individual of this type has digestive organs that function better than normal. Two subcategories of this type are: 'Yul' Soyang-In that contains heat in the body and 'Han' Soyang-In with relatively less heat. A person of the latter type is less likely to be obese and has urogenital organs that function less efficiently. Treatment methods vary accordingly. Overall, individuals of Soyang-In have weak urogenital organs and frequently suffer from Lower Back Pain, Vigor insufficiency, Sex organs disorder, irregular menstruation, Infertility, Metritis, Cystitis, Nephritis, Excessive acid in the stomach, Gastric ulcer, Duodenal ulcer. In addition, fatigue, diabetes, Arthritis, headache, acne (pimple), boil, skin diseases, constipation, irritable colon syndrome, chest oppression, and heated face are common symptoms that can easily diagnosed from individuals with this type of constitution.
02 Soum-in
An individual of this type has digestive organs that poorly function. Two subcategories of this type are: 'Yul' Soum-In a person of which is unlikely to become obese and 'Han' Soum-In a person of which tends to have large urogenital organs and relatively well-built body structure. Again, treatment methods vary accordingly. Overall, individuals of Soum-In are known to have cold body, thus feel easily cold even in a cool environment and tend to avoid cold food. They are usually emotionally sensitive and are disposed to minor illness. Common symptoms are: gastroenteric disorder or diseases, such as Indigestion, gastroptosis, gastritis, stomach ulcer, diarrhea, stomachache. Since they generally lack vitality, they occasionally sigh or feel fatigue or exhaustion.

03 Taeum-in
A constitution of Taeum-In can be subcategorized into two parts: 'Yul' Taeum-In a person of which has weak respiratory organs in a large body and 'Han' Taeum-In a person of which has large liver in a lean body. Overall, individuals with Taeum constitution are easily exposed to respiratory diseases, such as bronchitis, asthma, splenitis, and cold. They also tend to suffer from liver-related diseases, such as hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer. In addition, a group of diseases that is frequently diagnosed from this type of consitution includes: cholelithiasis, headache, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, or stroke.


04 Taeyang-in
Two subcategories of Taeyang-in constitution are: 'Yul' Taeyang-In a person of which has large lungs and 'Han' Taeyang-In a person of which has a small liver. A person of Taeyang constitution has upper body containing heat with weak lower body, which results in symptoms like: heated face, gasping, eye diseases, powerless legs or lower body, acid eructation, or digestive disorder.





Korean Constitutional Medicine

A brand new science was launched by Lee Jema (1836-1900) a century ago in the latter part of the Korean Chosun Dynasty. In 1894 Lee Jema asserted in his book Dongyi Soose Bowon (Longevity and Life Preservation in Oriental Medicine), that each person is born with a different organ structure and therefore have different characters, temperaments, and physiological and pathological phenomena. He asserted that even though people have the same illness, they need different medicines depending on their respective natural organ structures.

This assertion of his was based on his own experience. Even though he was a medical doctor, he suffered from a chronic illness. He tried everything to cure himself, but was unable to heal himself. He cured other people with similar symptoms, but the same medicine was ineffective on himself. This lead him to repeated research into the reason, and he came to realize that, in contrast to the others, he had a rare constitution, Taeyangin, so the cures for others couldn't work on him. Lee Jema finally cured himself, creating his own recipe appropriate to his constitution, and with that personal experience he was able to work out the theory of constitution medicine.

His book Dongyi Soose Bowonhas the reasons for the deficiency and excess syndromes of the organs, which vary with the individual; the way to distinguish the different constitutions by physiological and pathological characteristics and figure; the list of medicines and prescriptions classified by him according to the constitutions; and his experiences in practical healing. In its time, that book was very amazing and revolutionary. Lee Jema in his book not only made the extraordinary assertion that distinguishing syndromes is nonsense because the eight main syndromes that are the essence of Chinese medicine (yin, yang, cold, heat, external, internal, excess and deficiency) are already set by the human constitution, but also that illness of the six meridians doesn't come as orderly as prescribed by the famous Chinese doctor Zhang Zhongjing in his book Shanghanlun; that the phases of illness are already set according to the natural born constitution of the individual. Besides, he evolved his unique organ theory different from that of traditional Chinese medicine. He dared to criticize the system of Chinese medicine uncritically passed down for millennia, and even shook its roots, indeed a surprising event given the situation of the time, when Chinese science was dominant.

The concept of constitution defined by Lee Jema can be summed up thusly: Firstly, people are born with different organ structures. Secondly, these differences affect the form and looks of the body, so a person has a unique figure according to his constitution. Thirdly, the differences affect the temperament and personality, so a person has a different character. Fourthly, the differences affect the physiology and pathology of the human body, so the human body manifests different phenomena. Fifthly, all these differences form a constitution, and therefore a person must use a different cure and method of health care according to his constitution.

However, the constitution theory of Lee Jema until recently wasn't widely accepted even among doctors of Oriental medicine, and only a few scientists studied it and kept it alive. The value of his theory was not much acknowledged, because it was too new a theory to be easily linked to the existing system of Chinese medicine, and too difficult a theory for existing scientists to easily accept. There was another reason: this scientific system had its own limits. For example, in order to apply constitution medicine to a patient in clinical practice, it is necessary to first classify the patient's constitution, but the classifying norms explained in his book aren't sufficient to accurately make the classification. Because the medicine used for this constitution medicine has strong characteristics inclined toward one side in contrast to the traditional Chinese medicine, using it on a misclassified patient could bring side effects. Therefore the scientific evolution was hindered by the reluctance to use it in cases of doubt about the constitution classification. Lately, though, this constitution medicine is going through some drastic changes. Because of its amazing and outstanding curative efficacy, it is under constant study by minority scientists and is being completed little by little, giving it its chance to evolve.