The history of "Constitutional Medicine" dates back to ancient Chinese medicine. The principles of "8 Constitutional Medicine" originate from In-Yang Theory of Chinese medicine. During the 1800s, Dr. Lee Jema, a legendary oriental medicine doctor, developed "Sa-Sang" theory from In-Yang Theory to take better care of Korean people. "Sa-Sang" theory explains that there are four body types depending on the relative strength and weakness of internal organs. In 1962, Dr. Kwon Dowon further developed the "Sa-Sang" theory by proposing and establishing the theory of "8 Constitutional Medicine" for the first time at the "1965 Tokyo International Alternative Medicine Symposium." Ever since this presentation, "8 Constitutional Medicine" has drawn attention from not only medical professionals but also from the public.
Many patients with chronic fatigue, indigestion, diarrhea or constipation, high blood pressure, acne, back pain, joint problems, diabetes, ulcers, allergies, hepatitis, etc., seek treatment based on "8 Constitutional Medicine” therapy and have experienced amazing improvements of their conditions.
The human body is composed of internal organs with specific functions. Organs that constitute the body are not equally balanced in strength and power: some organs are stronger and healthier, while others are relatively weaker and more fragile.
When all the organs are kept in the natural inborn balance, our body produces the maximum energy and immunity, bringing peace to the body functions. When a strong organ gets too powerful, however, it dominates body functions and takes charge. As a result, weak organs become weaker. Then the harmony of the body is broken and weakened organs become susceptible to disease.
In addition, our eating habits and lifestyle determine our health. We do not have to be a neurosurgeon to understand the philosophy of “garbage in, garbage out.” When food and care that is supposed to nourish our bodies goes against the inborn health of organs and body, we suffer from disease and illness. That is why we need care that fits our body type. “8 Constitutional Medicine” provides a tailored and custom standard of care according to the body type of a person and thereby enables the most effective treatment that best fits the patient.
People are not created equal. We all have distinct personalities and tastes, and we all have different blood types, fingerprints, and genes. Not surprisingly, every person has different predispositions to health and diseases. "8 Constitutional Medicine" explains how the individual characteristics of the elements that "constitute" our body are different in different patients.
For instance: Why do some people develop food poisoning while others show no negative reaction? Why do some people get chubbier and gain weight despite great efforts to lose weight while others seem to enjoy a slim figure with no effort? Why do some people suffer from stomach aches and indigestion more frequently than others? Why do some advanced medical therapies work for a certain group of people and fail to work for others?
All these questions are answered with "8 Constitutional Medicine." The theory of “8 Constitutional Medicine” takes a different approach depending on the body type of a person, thereby enabling "customized and individualized" care. It is a rapidly spreading field of medicine catching the eyes of people of all races and ages worldwide.
Similar diseases or symptoms may have totally different causes depending on one's body type. Different diagnosis and treatment are required based on body types. Inherited body types, eating habits, hobbies, or careers are usually the main causes of diseases. As such, proper diagnosis based on one's body types must be considered to treat various types of illnesses.
The reason why each person shows different reactions to different kinds of food or medication is due to one's body type, the physical constitution. In other words, some foods or medications that might have had wonderful results on one person may not benefit another. In fact, the same foods or medications might even be harmful to another with a different constitution. Therefore, there is no "panacea" which cures all for everyone. Some may work well on some people and others may not work as well, or even be harmful to one's health.
All of these symptoms will help diagnose your body type, according to the 17th International Natural Medicine Symposium in 1995 Key lecture 3, “Eight Constitutional Medicine and Diet 1” by Dr. Do Won Kwon, Director of Dawnting Cancer Research Institute.
In order to understand the relationship between the eight body constitutions and their corresponding diets, we first need to understand what "body constitution" means. In general, “body constitution” means body type. When vitamins were first discovered, there was the common concept that vitamins were indispensable for maintaining health, that there was no such thing as ingesting too much vitamin content. It was thought that no harm can be done to the body through vitamin intake, regardless of quantity. Moreover, the prevailing belief was "the more vitamins, the better." However, not long after the discovery of vitamins, many people came to have a vitamin-related disease called hypervitaminosis. At that time, it was tentatively concluded that no matter how beneficial vitamins may be, excessive intake of vitamins can nevertheless cause undesirable side effects. However, under the principle of “8 Body Constitution Medicine,” the side effects suffered by consumption of vitamins are not caused by the excessive intake of vitamins, but rather are primarily due to the incompatibility between certain vitamins and certain body types. In other words, what matters is not so much the quantity of vitamin intake, but whether certain vitamins are agreeable to an individual's body type.
Numerous so-called “wonder drugs,” which garnered much attention, are quickly welcomed and accepted. Yet those "wonder drugs" prove not to be effective for everyone, because certain drugs may be effective only for certain body types, but not for all.
For example, when penicillin was first introduced, it was praised as a gift from God. Yet people came to realize later on that penicillin could potentially be as fatal as poison.
Consequently, the use of penicillin has been limited. Penicillin may be effective for a particular body type, but for another body type, it may be like a deadly poison.
For instance, ginseng, which has been considered a miraculous medicine in Asia, is effective only for certain body constitutions; for other constitutions, ginseng may cause serious disorders, such as paralysis and diabetes mellitus. It follows, therefore, that each body constitution has its own self-governed remedy for various ailments.
Another example is an allergy. While one medicine may have favorable results in treating an allergy for a person with a certain body constitution, the same treatment, on other occasions, may contain an ingredient or element that ironically causes allergic reactions in a person of another body constitution.
Another case concerns atopic dermatitis. Not every person is prone to suffer from atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is a particular disease that occurs only in persons with a certain constitution – those who should abstain from meat as much as possible if they are exposed to a constant diet of meat.
A while ago, a man who had atopic dermatitis was cured from it after he joined a certain religious organization. He thought that his recovery from this disease was through his religious faith and God's mercy on him; actually, the religious organization prohibited a meat diet, and he refrained from eating meat in order to adhere to his religious duty. Consequently, he was healed from atopic dermatitis, the primary cause of which is a diet with meat.
We often witness that a particular food, though it is nutritionally beneficial for certain individuals, can cause problems, such as food poisoning, for others. Some may suffer from Vibrio Vulnificus after eating shellfish at a beach in the summer. There are numerous similar examples. If we simply assume that all human beings have the same body type, the same constitution, the reason behind all these medical inconsistencies will elude us. Therefore, if we acknowledge that these unsolved problems are explained by the distinction between different body constitutions, we will be in a better position to deal with these problems.
In addition to the above, because this matter of body constitution is so crucial, we may say that medicine itself finds its beginning in the very theory of constitution. Regrettably, this theory of body constitution has not become a field of study in traditional medicine. As you may well know, Hippocrates, who can be called the father of western medicine, spoke of what he called Four Humors. This is nothing other than a theory based on individual body constitutions, yet its trace can no longer be found in contemporary medical theories. Though persons in physiological, neurological, and pathological fields have conducted various research endeavors on body constitution, their subsequent findings have never been accepted by mainstream medicine.
Aside from those in the medical realm, people, in general, have failed to identify factors that differentiate various body constitutions and thus have no way to discern between different constitutions. Therefore, people began to entertain doubts that differences in body constitution actually exist; thus, the theory of body constitution has never garnered the attention of the medical community.
Although some organs are stronger and others are weaker as they function together in a state of imbalance, this does not imply that the organs by themselves are abnormally structured or unhealthy. Rather, this state of imbalance is hereditary and is an imbalance of organ function that does not affect the body overall in a negative way. Different degrees and varieties of hereditary imbalance among people result in roughly eight general combinations of instinct, talent, interest, philosophy, and creativity. These combinations are responsible for the individual traits that differ from person to person. Consequently, the world is full of interesting diversity. In other words, the appropriate hereditary imbalance, which one is born with, is not a cause of health problems; furthermore, it is closely related to individuality among human beings. The varieties that contribute to this individuality can be roughly divided into eight general categories.
This prompts us to ask what the way to discern these different body types is. God the Creator has wonderfully installed the key to finding out our body constitution on the blood vessels of our wrists. In Asian medicine, diseases were diagnosed by taking a type of pulse that can be called a disease pulse. However, the disease pulse changes constantly to correspond to the patient's current condition. This disease pulse may change between morning to evening and from the previous year to this year. This pulse also varies depending on the patient's age. In contrast, the pulse that we use for discerning body types can never change throughout an individual's lifetime; this pulse always remains the same. We can discern the different body constitutions by taking this pulse. The way to take this pulse is quite different from the traditional way, but this method can be easily learned through practice. There are only eight different readings for this pulse. A considerable amount of time has been spent to find a ninth reading, but the discovery has been unsuccessful. In other words, according to extensive research, only eight constitutions exist. This is the brief history of how the Eight Constitutions Medicine was established.
The physiology corresponding to each of the eight constitutions is based on their respective appropriate hereditary imbalances. The physiologies of the eight constitutions can be categorized according to a variety of criteria, such as the amount of blood an individual has, how much he perspires, and which parts of his body have higher body temperatures. All these differences in physiology are caused by the variations in appropriate hereditary imbalances among the internal organs.
The next thing addressed is the pathology of the Eight Constitutions Medicine. In practicing this "Constitutional Medicine," it is believed that a disorder may develop if a person has a certain lifestyle---involving his diet, level of exercise, and type of job---that is not compatible with his body constitution. Such a lifestyle can divert the state of the body from appropriate imbalance to excessive imbalance. To explain, every organ has the tendency in which strong organs are inclined to become stronger and weak organs, weaker. An inappropriate lifestyle is a lifestyle that constantly provides the body with factors that cause strong organs to be overactive in function and weak organs to be suppressed in function. For any body constitution, this inappropriate lifestyle results in an acquired over-imbalance, which leads to various diseases.
What, then, is the proper treatment method? In a word, "constitutional" treatment seeks to restore the body from a state of excessive physiological imbalance back to its state of appropriate imbalance. A newly developed theory of acupuncture can make this restoration possible. Further development of this acupunctural treatment theory will lead to effective treatment for many presently incurable diseases.
The biggest factor that causes an excessive imbalance among internal organs is diet. Eating certain foods may strengthen organs that are already strong or further weaken already weak organs, thus causing excessive imbalance. Lists of food items that contribute to a beneficial diet or a harmful diet for each of the eight constitutions are available. The thesis which contains these lists were published in the 7th volume of 1974 Myoungji University journal.