Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dr. Royer: Traditional Korean Medicine

Dr. Raimund Royer, KMD, PhD, who is the Head of the International Clinic at Jasaeng Center for Alternative Medicine, gave an introductory lecture at the Itaewon Global Village Center on what is traditional Korean medicine and a bit on its efficacy.

In Korea, there are two kinds of medical therapy. One is the Western medical science called “yangbang”, and "hanbang" is for the Korean traditional medical treatment system. Similar to other Asian therapies, hanbang utilizes natural components to cure the human body. Instead of removing or focusing treatment on bad parts of the body, it tries to strengthen related organs and help the body to overcome the disease itself.

The philosophy behind Korean medicine, along with other Eastern medicines, is based on three points of view:
  • Universal view: Everything is a unique entity.
  • Nature is motion: Motion is change; motion is qi.
  • Nature is interrelated: Everything is somehow related to everything else.
The five elements reflect on aspects of the whole body, and when the elements are in balance, the yin and yang of the body are also well balanced with the overall outcome being a body filled with the vitality of the elements in good flow and circulation and therefore being in a state of good health.

The above picture might suggest that traditional Korean medicine is simplistic, when in actuality it is a complicated system of yin and yang, ebb and flow, 27 pulses, and a whole lot more. A chart characterizing the normal relations between the five elements is below. [Click to enlarge]

WOOD - yang power
  • Beginning, like in spring when sprouts break through the soil, and new life comes into existence.
  • Strong upward and spreading character
  • Viscera: liver -- birth, spring, wind, tendon, eye, anger
FIRE - yang power
  • The yang energy reaches the extreme, as in nature, flowers bloom.
  • Heat 
  • Viscera: heart -- spirit, blood vessels, tongue, joy
EARTH - yin and yang power
  • Earth harmonizes with wood, fire, metal and water.
  • In the circle spectrum, earth holds center position and has energy to change and transform external growth into internal maturity.
  • Viscera: spleen/pancreas -- digestive tract, energy supply for whole body, flesh, lips, thinking
METAL - yin power
  • Solid and cold
  • Growth of spring and summer stops, fruits ripen
  • Dispose of unnecessary things
  • Viscera: lungs -- respiration, skin, nose, voice, sadness/grief
WATER - yin power
  • Cold and icy
  • Water stores all energy and essences and prepares for new spring
  • Mostly yin character but contains yang energy too for preparing for spring
  • Viscera: kidneys -- storage of vital essence, vitality, bones, ear, hair, sexuality, fear

Qi (Vital Energy) and Meridians
  • Basic energy element that constitutes the cosmos
  • Produces everything in the world through its movements, changes and transformations
  • In the human body, the refined nutritive substance that flows within the human body
  • Circulates in a circuitry system much like the Seoul subway lines; the system connects organs, extremities and all tissue.
  • Accu-point - Certain point along a meridian that strongly responds to stimulation; considered as a reservoir of qi with high therapeutic response.


Qi deficiency
Fatigue and low energy
Sweating even without exercising
Weak pulse
Blood deficiency
Pale face, lips and nails
Light-headedness, tinnitus, palpitation
Irregular periods, reduced flow, in severe cases no menstruation
Yin deficiency
Weight loss, dry mouth, dry skin, tinnitus
Dizziness, palpitations, anxiety, sleeping disorder
Night sweating
Sexual dysfunction
Yang deficiency
Feels cold
Cold feeling in lower back and knees
Weak in legs with walking problems
Diarrhea, frequent urination
Low sexual function
Principle of holistic medicine

The human body possesses innate recuperative power so treatment is to (1) promote individual health via the treatment of organic dysfunction, and (2) harmonize the mental state and social relationships.

Herbal Medicine

The basic idea is that each plant, mineral, etc. has certain characteristics and energetic properties
Example: Ginseng
  • Qi-tonifying medicinal with over 200 active chemical substances
  • Flavor - sweet, bitter
  • Qi - warm
  • Meridian/organ entry - spleen/pancreas, lungs, heart
  • Effect - dispels fatigue, sexual dysfunction, digestive problems, anxiety
In using herbal medicine, the recipe consists of different herbs as based on each individual's needs. The 8 main therapeutic purposes for using herbals are:
  1. Perspiration - induces sweating
  2. Emetic - induces vomiting
  3. Purgative - promotes defecation
  4. Harmonization - balancing
  5. Warming - supports yang energy
  6. Heat-clearing - reduces internal heat
  7. Tonifying - treats qi, blood, yin and yang deficiencies
  8. Resolving - dispenses sores, ulcers, etc. 
Bee venom therapy, for strong anti-inflammatory pain relief and for strengthening the immune system, is also used. Pharmacopuncture also figures into traditional Korean medicine and is used for pain control and supporting muscles/ligaments along the spine.

Dr Royer checking the pulse -- three pulses on the left wrist and three more on the right.
Each pulse corresponds to a different organ.

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