"That infinitely variable organism without which human disease is impossible" [Hippocrates, BC 460?-337?]
"No cause can be efficient without an aptitude of the body" [Galen, 130-200]
"It takes two to make a case of illness; he who gets sick and the bug that bites him" [Gray, 1941]
The Sasang [Sa-Sang] Typology (Korean Hangul: 사상의학. Hanja: 四象醫學) is a traditional Korean medical typology, which was systematically theorized by Jae-Ma Lee in his book "Dong-Yi-Soo-Se-Bo-Won (The Principle of Life Preservation in Oriental Medicine) in 1894 (1,2). In Korea, it is widely used in Korea and literally every Korean knows this type of medical modalities.
Sasang typology explains the individual differences in susceptibility to a certain disease (or pathological factors) and treatment based on their bio-psychological traits. So the Sasang typology is the real "Personality-based Personalized Medicine" which has been used for hundred years. It also shows type-specific guideline for safe and effective use of acupuncture and medical herbs not only Ginseng and Ginger but even with significant adverse events, such as Ma-Huang (Ephedra Sinica) and Aconite.
The Sasang typology has not been well explained or introduced to the Western society so far, since it has unique philosophical, psychological and biological characteristics which can not explained easily in English.
In this web site, the typical concept and characteristics are illustrated with scientific research data obtained lately.
0. Sasang Typology: What is so unique?
The most interesting and unique thing about Sasang typology is that it has both philosophical and medical basis. The Sasang typology got its characteristics from Neo-Confucianism of late 19th century Korea and tradition of Korean medicine. Literally, the Sasang typology is a systemic incarnation of medical typology that is poised to explain the influence of emotionality, behavioral patterns and cognitive tendencies, and physical and physiological characteristics in the treatment of diseases. This web documents are based on these current research articles.
1. Personality or Temperament
There exist surprising similarities in phenotypic description among the theories of Hippocrates/Galen, Eysenck and Jaema Lee.
1-A. Four Humors (by Hippocrates and Galen)
The Sasang typology has lots of similarities with Four humor theories of Hippocrates and Galen as for the phenotypic features. However there still lies lots of needs for the detailed studies on this topics(3).
1-B. PEN (by Dr. Eysenck)
It was showed that the Extraversion(Extrovert-Introvert) and Neuroticism(Stable-Unstable) were supposed to be the two major superfactors in individual difference in personality. And it can be the two most distinctive axis for explaing four Sasang types in general (3).
1-C. Temperament and Character Inventory (by Dr. Cloninger)
The Harm-Avoidance, Novelty-Seeking and Reward-Dependance were reported to describe distinctive biopsychological features of So-Eum, So-Yang and Tae-Eum Sasang types in clinical samples (4, 5).
1-D. Sasang Personality Questionnaire
This is the objective measure for temperament dimension of Sasang typology. The SPQ was reported to describe psychological features of each Sasang types with consideration of age and gender (6).
2. Body/Face Shape or Constitution
2-A. Body Mass Index and Waist/Hip ratio
It has reported that the body shape of each Sasang types can be well discriminated with Body Mass Index and Waist/Hip ratio (2)
2-B. Basal Metabolic Rate
It also showed that the Basal Metabolic Rate would be another option for describing body shape of each Sasang types, which the Tae-Eum type is significantly bigger than others (7).
2-C. Height/width ratio of face
The face was major interest for researchers for describing type-specific physical features. There were two interesting reports on the face. The Bitragus to Submandibular arc length (8) and Height/width ratio (9) of Tae-Eum type were significantly bigger than others.
3. Patho-physiological symptom
3-A. five (original) patho-physiological symptoms
3-B. Sasang Digestive Function Inventory
The Sasang Digestive Function Inventory (SDFI) measures the digestive functions of each Sasang types. It is useful for the discrimination of Tae-Eum types from So-Eum types (10). It also reported that the combination of SDFI and SPQ can be useful for the Sasang type differentiation (11).
It was a hot topic for many researchers in Korea for many years.
However, there is no SNP or Haplotype genes proven to be useful for explaining Sasang typology. And systems medicine/biology would be the next step for this kind of perspectives (12).
5. Type-specific acupoints and herbs
Type-specific acupoint (13) and medical herbs (4) have been used for the disease treatment as a personalized medicine.
1. Lee, Jae-ma. Dong-Yi-Soo-Se-Bo-Won (The Principle of Life Preservation in Oriental Medicine)." Jae-Ma Lee:Seoul (1894)
2. Chae, Han, et al. "An alternative way to individualized medicine: psychological and physical traits of Sasang typology." The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine (2003) 9(4);519-528.
3. Chae, Han, et al. "Psychological profile of sasang typology: a systematic review." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2009) 6(S1);21-29.
4. Park, Soo Hyun, et al. "Temperament and character profiles of Sasang typology in an adult clinical sample." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2011) 2011;794795.
6. Chae, Han, et al. "Development and validation of a personality assessment instrument for traditional Korean medicine: Sasang personality questionnaire." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2012) 2012;657013.
7. Shim, Eun Bo, et al. "Mitochondria hypothesis on the obesity-prone tendency in Tae-Eum people." Korean J. Oriental Physiology & Pathology (2009) 23(6):1241-1246.
8. Park, Soojin, et al, "Analysis of the relationship between Sasang constitution and measuring items of the head and face." Korean J Oriental Physiology & Pathology (2007) 21(1):270-280.
9. Pham, DD, et al, "Body mass index and facial cues in Sasang typology for young and elderly persons." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2011) 2011;749209
10. Lee, Misuk, et al. "Development and validation of the digestive function assessment instrument for traditional korean medicine: Sasang digestive function inventory." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013) 2013;263752.
11. Lee, Soojin, et al. "Study on Sasang Typology Based on the Type-Specific Characteristics with Type-Specific Pathophysiological Symptom and Temperament." Korean J. Oriental Physiology & Pathology (2014) 28(3);359-364.
12. Sohn, Kyungwoo, et al. "Genetic Characteristics of Sasang Typology: A Systematic Review." Journal of acupuncture and meridian studies (2012) 5(6);271-289.