General Guide for Korean Acupuncture & Moxibustion


As ancient Korean and Chinese dynasties held close relationships in politics and culture throughout history, the medicine of the two nations were developed in mutual influence. For instance, the current version of Lingshu, the second half of the Huangdineijing, was transcribed from The Bible of Acupuncture, which was brought to the Chinese Song dynasty from the Korean Koryo dynasty in 1092. While maintained a close relationship with traditional Chinese medicine, Korean medicine had continued to develop unique systems on its own over the history and established typical types of acupuncture methods, which are different from those of traditional Chinese medicine [1]. In the 17th century, a royal physician by the name of Dr. Heo Jun wrote Donguibogam, the first encyclopedia of Korean medicine in Korea. It remained to be a book of instruction for Korean Medicine Doctors. Another book called Donguisusebowon was published in 1901 on the basis of the theory of four constitutions by Dr. Lee Je-Ma at the end of the Chosun dynasty [2]. There were two other representative Korean acupuncture methods: Saam acupuncture and Constitutional acupuncture (Taeguek acupuncture). Theories of Korean acupuncture applied a summarized framework for each individual to diagnose a physical condition, explaining the biologic phenomena within the concept of constitutional medicine [1]. The diagnosis systems of several Korean acupuncture styles were focused on simplifying the understanding of the body’s core imbalances, and the resulting diagnosis enabled practitioners to devise therapeutic strategies that were based on constitutional energy traits. Saam acupuncture used 12 energy (or Qi) traits, mainly controlled by the 12 corresponding Meridians, that underlie diverse superficial biologic phenomena [2] [3]. It was suggested that these 12 energies determined the inclinations of the whole body, and they were targeted to recover the balance of the body’s constancy. Taegeuk acupuncture was identified by Sasang constitutional medicine according to the patient’s innate constitution. Sasang constitutional medicine identified four constitutions according to the individual’s inherent disparities among major Organ energies, expressed as the size of the Organs, all of which determined the physiologic characteristics of the individual patient and served as a major imbalance succeeding diverse pathologic processes. These constitutional traits were suggested to be the source of individual differences in apparently similar physiologic or pathologic reactions [2]. As Meridian theory is based on the Qi thesis of Yin-Yang and Five Elements among Organs, acupuncture treatment couldn’t be separated from these viewpoints. Saam acupuncture was based on the control of Qi and Blood among Organs and channels, and thus the clinical use of Saam acupuncture treatments seemed to be core to oriental medicine [4]. As the creation of Blood originates from Qi, one could argue that Qi included Blood, thereby stating that the effect of Saam acupuncture was achieved by harmonizing the function and flow of Qi. The treatment protocol of Saam acupuncture mainly focused on tonification and sedation of the Five Shu points (“five transport points”), firmly based on regular pattern. It had a strong effect on imbalances of the Five Organs, but on the other hand could be said to have little effect on disease of interruption such as stagnation and irregularities in Meridian networks. Thus, acupoints other than the Five Shu points were used as well.

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Kwon, H. and Kim, Y. (2015) General Guide for Korean Acupuncture & Moxibustion. Open Journal of Immunology, 5, 90-103. doi: 10.4236/oji.2015.53010.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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