Sasang constitutional medicine (SCM) is a holistic typological constitution medicine which balances psychological, social, and physical aspects of an individual to achieve wellness and increase longevity. SCM has the qualities of preventative medicine, as it emphasizes daily health management based on constitutionally differentiated regimens and self-cultivation of the mind and body.
TCM and SCM are medical traditions originating from oriental philosophical perspectives. TCM is based on the Taoist views of the universe and humanity introduced in Huangdi’s Internal Classic.
Briefly, qi are the basic substance of the universe, and the generation, degeneration, variation, and operation of qi is governed by the Law of Yin-Yang and the Five-Phase theory. Thus, the healthiness and longevity of an individual, a microcosm of universe, depends on a harmonious relationship with the universe, the macrocosm. SCM is based on the Neo-Confucian views of the universe and humanity introduced in Dongeuisoosebowon. Neo-Confucianism also played an important role in the development of TCM as well.
The fundamental concepts of SCM include both emotional and physical aspects. The emotional and physical factors are integrated to the extent that the concept of “heart” and “mind” are viewed as nearly being synonymous. The concept of the mind (heart) is distinctly different in SCM and TCM.
In TCM, the heart is one of the internal organs representing the fire element. In SCM, the mind (heart) governs the entire body, which suggests that the mental component controls the physical component. The mind is compartmentalized into the Seong and the Jeong that manifests in four forms, sorrow, anger, joy, and pleasure. In SCM, the primary cause of illness is disruptions to the Seong-Jeong (Innate Nature and emotional disposition) of sorrow, anger, joy, and pleasure that arise from human interactions and self-control. SCM emphasizes preservation of health through daily health management based on constitutionally differentiated regimens. Additionally, SCM has qualities of preventive medicine through emphasis of patient-centered self-cultivation of the mind and body.
In TCM, individual unique characteristics are explained by a pattern typology, which is categorized by somatotype, disposition, symptomology, and pathology according to outward similarities. Conversely, in SCM, individual unique characteristics are explained by a systemic typology that combines somatotype, disposition, symptomology, physiology, pathology, therapeutics, and prevention into a comprehensive picture based on the constitutional differentiations of each individual. For this reason, the TCM typology is a pattern typology, whereas the SCM typology is defined as a constitutional typology. Overall, SCM is a well-developed and comprehensive system of constitutional typology that explains the distinct constitutional qualities of each constitutional type, including the physical form, mental disposition, physiology, pathology, symptomology, diagnostics, therapeutics, and preservative methods, with a consistent rationale.
TCM established the “Differentiation of the Syndrome Theory” and analyzed each symptom, classifying it into symptomatic types. If patients with the similar dominant complaint showed different symptomatic types, they were treated with different therapies. Although traditional Korean medicine was influenced by TCM in many aspects, it progressively developed a unique constitutional view that mind and body are inseparable and the physical state of the human body can be remarkably changed by mental factors. This belief of traditional Korean medicine led to SCM in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
TCM pathology is based on the meridian and collateral meridian theory, which is related to the twelve meridians and fifteen collaterals, and the visceral manifestation theory, which is related to the five viscera and the six bowels. Diagnostics begin with the four examinations, after which clinical data is inductively analyzed before proceeding to the eight principles. The eight principles is then used to determine the therapeutic principle and method.
The SCM pathology is based on disruptions of the fourfold energizer centers arising from deviations of Seong-Jeong. The fourfold energizer centers house the four organ systems, which each has a correspondence system including the internal and external organs carrying out vital metabolic processes. In the SCM, there are two metabolic systems, the Qi-Humor metabolism, which is controlled by the lungs and the liver, and the Water-Food metabolism, which is controlled by the spleen and the kidneys.
TCM therapeutics is based on fortification of the healthy qi and elimination of the pathological qi. On the other hand, the SCM therapeutics is designed to regulate the mind to control the illness. In SCM, interacting with others and rectifying oneself allows the Seong-Jeong of sorrow, anger, joy, and pleasure to be controlled and contained through self-cultivation, which enables regulation of the mind to regulate the body.
This is a part of an original article, “Sasang Constitutional Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Comparative Overview” written by Junghee Yoo, Euiju Lee, Chungmi Kim, Junghee Lee and Lao Lixing.
The article was published online on 9/19/2011 at Evidence based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3176432/ If you feel like to have more information regarding the article, you can read full article by clicking the link.