Encino Acupuncture
and Herb Center
Serving the community for more than 20 years.

Sasang Medicine (SM)

    There are two major causes of disease, environmental factors and hereditary factors. Environmental factors include disease components that effect the body after birth. These are the external pathogenic factors of wind, cold, summer heat, dampness, dryness and heat (inappropriate weather or invasion by germs), the seven emotional factors (stress), physical injury, etc. Hereditary factors are constitutional defects or deficiencies (hereditary disease) that people are born with. In other words, people come into the world unbalanced and have inappropriate deviations in their overall physiology.  In contrast to western and traditional Chinese medicine that stress the elimination of environmental factors, SM believes in restoring balance by treating the hereditary factors. SM is the traditional constitutional medicine of Korea. There has been a great surge of interest in this medical practice since the popularization of the idea that diseases arise from defects in the human beings’ genetic codes.

It seems obvious that patients who share common diseases, signs and symptoms, should receive similar treatments. Frequently, however, patients do not respond in the same way to the same treatments. One patient may be very effectively treated by a certain drug, for example, while another patient has no relief and rather, experiences very debilitating side effects. This phenomenon, even when the diagnosis and the treatment method of the doctor are correct, occurs because the doctor does not think to consider the hereditary factors of the patient.

     Just as the face and the bodily shape of human beings are multifarious, people’s character traits and physiology also display great variety. SM classifies these variances in humans into Yin and Yang. People are characterized as Yin persons or Yang persons based on their peculiarities of Yin and Yang. According to the Sasang principle of the I Ching, Yin persons are divided into Taiyin and Shaoyin, while Yang persons are divided into Taiyang and Shaoyang. These four types make up the Sasang constitutions.


     Just as matter and energy are considered the same in modern physics, mental characteristics and the physical shape of a person are considered the same in SM. It is a fixed principle in SM that a person with a particular physical shape will have a certain physiological disposition. Thus a person's mental characteristics can be determined by analyzing his or her physical shape and vice versa. Since SM focuses on identifying hereditary factors, the emphasis for determining a person’s constitution is more on the shape of the body than the more transient personality characteristics.

     Once a body type is diagnosed, broad principles concerning the strength and weakness of a patient’s characteristics, excesses and deficiencies of internal organs, predisposition to disease, treatment formulas, and methods of health cultivation can be determined according to the principles of the Yin-Yang, Sasang and Five Elements. The broad principles are then further broken down into more specific treatment protocols with regards to which of the environmental factors are causing the imbalances.

     SM classifies not only herbs and diseases into Yin-Yang and Sasang, but also analyzes human emotions (joy, anger, sadness, pleasure), bodily regions (head, shoulders, waist, buttocks), sense organs (ears, eyes, mouth, nose) and directions (east, west, south, north). The energetic aspects of every element that affects human existence can be broken down into its representative category of Yin-Yang and Sasang.

     The four forces (Taiyang, Shaoyang, Taiyin and Shaoyin) exist in all dimensions of fractal structure, the fundamental structure of the universe and human beings. The balance between these forces is broken in human beings so their thoughts are biased. This creates desire and greed, which in turn create sin and disease. Therefore, it is the belief of SM that human beings, with their disharmonious states of these fundamental four forces, commit sins and die of disease that are determined from birth. God, in contrast, who has a harmonious state of these four forces, does not have any tilt in his thinking, so he loves all things in nature equally. He exists perpetually, as he has no diseases that would be caused by an absence of physiological balance. Psychological and physical treatments can harmonize the four forces. A person in perfect balance is called a “person of Yin-Yang harmony.”

     Even if there is no outward expression of imbalance, people must constantly try to regulate the forces within them, because the seed of self-destruction exists in all of us.

     The following is a description of each of the four body types in SM.


     Taiyangs give off an image of pure masculinity regardless of their sex. They possess all the attributes of the so-called “he-man;” they are heroic, non-compromising, and have a brave spirit. They can be highly outspoken, rebellious and arrogant. At the same time, Taiyangs are eccentric, creative and revolutionary. Many in this constitution are often labeled geniuses. They can be outstanding strategists or inventors. Their weaknesses include insufficient planning, lack of regrets or reflection of failure, and becoming easily angered when things go wrong. Physically thin in nature (few have large bodies) with large heads, Taiyangs are prone to a peculiar illness called Hae Yuk syndrome that manifests as lower body weakness as well as dysphagia or difficulty swallowing accompanied by vomiting.

     Talent and aptitude
: open, progressive, radical, skilled in communications and highly sociable.



     Shaoyangs have quick, strong and impulsive tendencies, both mentally and physically. They are extremely extroverted, honest, outspoken and highly spirited individuals. They are very righteous and compassionate, frequently offering themselves for community or public service. On the other hand, they can become frequently impatient, careless in their actions and neglectful of their family duties. Physically they resemble an upside down triangle with a strong upper body development as opposed to their lower body, which appears weak in comparison. They are prone to low back and lower leg weaknesses and often suffer from a variety of problems in the genito-urinary regions. This is all due to a weakness in their Kidneys and reproductive systems.

     Talent and aptitude
: skilled at fulfilling work and roles given (this includes what is known as the “Heavenly decree” or spiritual calling, as well as everyday work) and has warrior instincts (brave and righteous, with a high sense of integrity).

     When the Taiyin type is mentioned, the mental image that often arises is one of magnanimity, impartiality and benevolence. Taiyins tend to be taciturn and act with prudence, patience and persistence in all matters. They are conservatives who dislike change. On the negative side, however, Taiyins can be wicked, arrogant and very greedy. They have a dignified look, but at the same time can frequently entertain thoughts of suspicion and doubt. Physically, many are overweight with a large frame and a big round “belly.” Powerful corporate executives with stereotypical large potbellies are categorized within this constitution. They are susceptible to diseases such as asthma, hypertension, stroke and heart disease due to the weaknesses in their respiratory and circulatory systems.

     Talent and aptitude
: excellent at accomplishing and completing all projects. Whatever they start, they finish with indomitable and unflagging spirit. They like ruts and so are able to tenaciously remain in one location - residence, occupation or social position - for long periods of time.


     Meticulous, prudent and precise are words that describe the Shaoyin psyche. Shaoyins tend to be gentle, docile, well-mannered and introverted people. As a result of their passive nature, Shaoyins shy away from expressing their thoughts and feelings outwardly, so it should come as no surprise that they dislike being bothered by others. Although prudent planners, they lack the drive to get things started once the planning is done. In an unbalanced state, they are eminently conscientious of profit and loss and display an envious and narrow-minded nature. Physically, Shaoyins have upper body weaknesses although their overall body is generally well balanced. Their principal constitutional weakness lies in their digestive organs and their nervous minds. This manifests mostly as indigestion with poor appetite and loose stools or diarrhea.
     Talent and aptitude
: decorous, composed and skilled in gathering and organizing people (this is due to the fear and uncertainty they feel toward the world; they try to find consolation by organizing others, especially family members, through kinship, regional relationships or school relationships).


Explanation of the diagram: All things in nature have a tilt of Yin and Yang, which can be diagrammed onto the Sasang coordinates. Disease is a disharmony of Yin and Yang in the human body. It can be remedied by restoring balance using substances from nature that have the opposite Yin-Yang slant than that of the disease.







•   Active (i.e. not passive)

•   Positive, Idealistic, Optimistic

•   Intelligent, Creative

•   Sociable

•   Heroic, Brave, Bold

•   Charismatic

•   Resolute, Tenacious

•   Progressive, Pioneering

•   Arrogant, Careless

•   Self-righteous, Dogmatic

•   Stubborn, Non-compromising

•   Inflexible

•   Rebellious

•   Short-Tempered, Rude

•   Impractical


•   Masculine

•   Revolutionary

•   Outspoken

•   Inquisitive




•   Napoleon Bonaparte

•   Adolph Hitler

•   Lenin

•   Douglas Macarthur

•   Ludwig van Beethoven

•   Vincent Van Gogh

•   Batman

•   Superman

•   Darth Vader

•   Captain James T. Kirk

•   Sherlock Holmes

•   The Terminator

•   Rambo




•   Grains/legumes: buckwheat

•   Meat/Poultry: none

•   Sea foods: shell fish (oyster, abalone, mussel, wreath shell), crabs, mackerel, sea cucumber, sea squirt, prussian carp, small octopus, octopus, squid

•   Vegetables: watershield plant, celery, pine needles, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, burdock root

•   Fruits: grapes, wild grapes, persimmons, cherries, Chinese quince, pine pollen, fruit of actinidia arguta, kiwi


•   Hot and stimulating spices and foods: red/black pepper, ginger, onion, cinnamon, garlic, fennel, green onion, chives, turmeric, mustard, etc.

•   Meats, poultry, greasy foods,

•   Honey, ginseng, hard liquor, coffee





•   acanthopanacis

•   chaenomelis

•   pine needles


•   Yoga

•   Tai Chi

•   Qi Gong

•   Walking



•   Excessive saliva or foaming from the mouth

•   Low back pain

•   Lower body weakness or paralysis

•   Jie Yi syndrome

•   Dysphagia (Ye Ge)

•   Vomiting (Fan Wei)

•   Esophageal disorders or cancer

•   Stomach disorders or cancer

•   Bone marrow disease

•   Brain disorders

•  Infertility








•   Active (i.e. not passive)

•   Open-minded

•   Cooperative

•   Straightforward

•   Honest

•   Sharp

•   Bright personality

•   Spirited

•   Cheerful

•   Rash

•   Fickle

•   Lacks perseverance

•   Easily angered

•   Critical

•   Belligerent

•   Aggressive

•   Extroverted

•   Passionate

•   Sentimental

•   Impulsive

•   Competitive




•   Amadeus Mozart

•   Elvis Presley

•   Bruce Lee

•   Elizabeth Taylor

•   Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

•   Julie Andrews

•   Robert Deniro

•   Madonna

•   Muhammad Ali

•   Ronald Reagan

•   Arnold Schwarzenneger

•   007 James Bond

•   Fonz

•   Popeye

•   Pocahontas

•   Hans Solo

•   Bart Simpson

•   Peter Pan

•   Bugs Bunny




•   Grains/legumes: barley, aduki beans, mung beans, kidney beans

•   Meat/poultry: pork, duck, egg

•   Sea foods: oyster, sea cucumber, sea squirt, abalone, halibut, squid, small octopus, octopus, crab, crayfish, swellfish, mackerel, mussel, soft-shelled turtle, snake fish, flatfish

•   Vegetables: Chinese cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, burdock root, eggplant, spinach, celery, hops

•   Fruits: musk melon, strawberries, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, bananas, coconut, cantaloupe, pineapple, persimmon, avocados

•   Others: lingzhi mushroom, peppermint

•   Hot and stimulating spices and foods: red/black pepper, ginger, onion, cinnamon, garlic, fennel, green onion, chives, turmeric, mustard, etc.

•   Chicken, turkey, lamb

•   Honey, ginseng, wine, hard liquor, coffee





•   rehmannia

•   peppermint

•   green tea

•  raspberry

•   Yoga

•   Tai Chi

•   Qi Gong

•   Skiing

•   Cycling



•   Constipation

•   Urinary disturbance

•   Acute or chronic kidney


•   Habitual low back pain

•   Knee weakness

•   Hypertension

•   Vomiting Blood

•   Sexual disorders

•   Infertility

•   Osteoporosis

•  Pulmonary tuberculosis







•   Dignified

•   Polite

•   Decorous

•   Persevering

•   Impartial

•   Optimistic

•   Benevolent

•   Prudent

•   Honest

•   Humorous

•   Gallant/heroic

•   Cowardly

•   Lazy

•   Close-minded

•   Stubborn

•   Covetous

•   Wicked

•   Dubious/Skeptical


•   Conservative

•   Taciturn

•   Ambitious

•   Imposing

•   Pragmatist




•   Winston Churchill

•   Thomas Edison

•   Martin Luther King, Jr.

•   John F. Kennedy

•   Jay Leno

•   Rosie O’Donnell

•   Monika Lewinsky

•   Roseanne Arnold

•   Al Capone

•   Hulk Hogan

•   George Foreman

•   Bluto

•   Homer Simpson

•   Fred Flintstone

•   Jabba the Hutt

•   Santa Claus

•   King Kong




·         Grains/legumes: wheat, brown rice, oats, soybeans, tofu, millet, job’s tears, lentils, beans, peas, peanuts, perilla seed

·         Meat/poultry/dairy: beef, butter, cheese, yogurt, and cow’s milk.

·         Sea foods: agar-agar, algae, brown seaweed, carp, cod, eel, fish liver oil, kelp, laver, mud snail, salmon, sea hair-tail, spawn of a pollack, tuna, other sea weeds/marine products

·         Vegetables: asparagus, bracken, broad bellflower, carrots, dandelion, lotus root, mushrooms (all types except ling zhi), taro, turnip, pumpkin, radish, squash, yam, broccoli, bamboo shoots, cauliflower, alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes

·         Fruits/nuts: almonds, apricots, chestnuts, gingko nuts, mangoes, papayas, pears, pine nuts, plums, umeboshi salt plums, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, walnuts, watermelons, pistachios, all types of nuts

•   Foods or supplements that build excessive heat: chicken, chicken soup, mutton, ginseng, or honey

•   Pork




•   Job’s tear

•   Kudzu

•   Schizandra

•   weight training

•   aerobics

•   racquet sports



•   Diabetes                    

•   Hypertension / Arteriosclerosis

•   Hepatitis

•   Heart diseases

•   Cirrhosis

•   Jaundice              

•   Stroke

•   Gall bladder disorder

•   Hypotension

•   Enteritis                

•   Appendicitis                

•  Pulmonary tuberculosis

•  Bronchitis

•  Asthma

•  Allergies

•  Rashes               

•  Constipation

•   Dysentery  

•   Irritable bowel syndrome

•  Neurasthenia

•  Intestinal cancer

•  Hemorrhoids







•   Composed

•   Calm

•   Orderly

•   Methodical

•   Meticulous

•   Clean

•   Tidy

•   Modest

•   Prudent

•   Patient

•   Perceptive

•   Social

•   Passive/Inactive

•   Selfish

•   Narrow-minded

•   Jealous

•   Authoritarian

•   Stubborn

•   Introverted

•   Conservative

•   Delicate

•   Minute/Precise

•   Meditative

•   Crafty




•   Ghandi

•   Mother Teresa

•   Albert Einstein

•   Abraham Lincoln

•   Marilyn Monroe

•   Meg Ryan

•   Woody Allen

•   Al Pacino

•   Cain (TV’s Kung Fu Series)

•   Texas Ranger

•   Charlie Brown

•   Casper the Friendly Ghost

•   Cinderella

•   Snow White

•   Olive Oil (Popeye)

•   ET




•   Grains: glutinous rice, rice, hulled millet, glutinous millet

•   Meat/poultry/dairy: chicken, turkey, mutton, goat’s milk

•   Sea foods: Alaska pollack, catfish, cod, eel, red snapper, yellow corvina, sea hair-tail, anchovy, croaker, loach, tuna

•   Vegetables: potatoes, cabbage, crown daisy, carrots, onion, garlic, ginger, leek, scallion, red pepper, green pepper, black pepper, mustard, tomatoes

•   Fruits: apples, oranges, Mandarin oranges, tangerines, lemons, peaches, dates, mangoes, nectarines, pomegranates, hawthorn berry

•   Others: honey, ketchup, royal jelly, bee pollen, ginseng, cocoa

•   Foods that are cold or damp-producing: aduki beans, bananas, barley, beer, buckwheat, chestnut, Chinese cabbage, cold milk, green beans, ice cream, musk melon, pear, persimmons, pork, squid, walnut, watermelon, and wheat products, especially noodles





•   ginseng

•   cinnamon

•   ginger

•   aerobics

•   racquet sports

•   calisthenics



•   Poor appetite                           

•   Chronic fatigue

•   Indigestion                        

•   Cold hands and feet

•   Habitual abdominal pain   

•   Cold body         

•   Chronic diarrhea                      

•   Allergic rhinitis

•  Chronic dysentery                  

•   Sinusitis

•   Prolapse of stomach

•   Rhinorrhea

•   Plum pit syndrome           

•   Melancholy

•   Tonsillitis                                  

•   Depression

•   Jaundice