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Table of Contents
                            General Guide for Korean Acupuncture & Moxibustion
1. Introduction
	1.1. Acupoints Used in Saam Acupuncture
	1.2. Promotion and Control Cycles Leading to the Disease Type of Five Evils
	1.3. The Six Energy Characteristics of Three Yin and Three Yang
	1.4. Five Elements
2. Method of Acupuncture Treatment
	2.1. Example in Deficiencies
	2.2. Examples in Excesses
	2.3. Controller Element Meridian
3. Method of Tonification and Sedation
4. Diagnosis Method
5. Practice of Saam Acupuncture
6. Saam Acupuncture in Research
7. Taegeuk Acupuncture
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Open Journal of Immunology, 2015, 5, 90-103
Published Online August 2015 in SciRes.

How to cite this paper: Kwon, H.-J. and Kim, Y.-S. (2015) General Guide for Korean Acupuncture & Moxibustion. Open
Journal of Immunology, 5, 90-103.

General Guide for Korean Acupuncture &
Hyo-Jung Kwon, Yong-Suk Kim*
Department of Acupuncture & Moxibustion, (Brain & Neurological Disorders and Pain), Kangnam Korean
Hospital, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea
Email: *[email protected]

Received 14 May 2015; accepted 25 August 2015; published 28 August 2015

Copyright © 2015 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).

As ancient Korean and Chinese dynasties held close relationships in politics and culture through-
out 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 encyclo-
pedia 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 re-
sulting diagnosis enabled practitioners to devise therapeutic strategies that were based on con-
stitutional 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 constitution-
al 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 pa-

*Corresponding author.
mailto:[email protected]

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H.-J. Kwon, Y.-S. Kim


thologic processes. These constitutional traits were suggested to be the source of individual dif-
ferences 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 harmoniz-
ing the function and flow of Qi. The treatment protocol of Saam acupuncture mainly focused on to-
nification 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 Meri-
dian networks. Thus, acupoints other than the Five Shu points were used as well.

Saam Acupuncture, Constitutional Acupuncture, Five Elements, Taegeuk Acupuncture

1. Introduction
Saam acupuncture is one of unique Korean acupuncture styles and its technique is widely adopted by clinicians
and educational institutions in Korea today. It originated in the 17th century, probably by a Buddhist monk
called “Saam”. Saam acupuncture provides basic acupuncture prescriptions for the imbalances of each of the
twelve Meridians. The main energy traits of the 12 Meridians are employed by applying the promotion cycle
(Sheng, creation, “nourishing”) and control cycle (Ke, governor, “suppressing”) relationships of the Five Ele-
ments (or “Five Phases”) theory onto the Five Shu points and 12 Meridians [3] [4]. Saam acupuncture summa-
rizes diverse physiological or pathologic processes into 12 images of Qi imbalance corresponding to the 12 Me-
ridians and expands the use of the Five Shu points. The manuscripts of Saam acupuncture carry clinical applica-
tions and modifications of the basic acupuncture prescriptions [5].

Five Elements acupuncture consists of tonification and sedation using Five Shu points. Five Elements acu-
puncture, also known as “tonification and sedation in self-Meridian” on the basis of the creation cycle, was first
proposed by Gao-wu during the Ming dynasty in China. Saam developed this technique further by extending it
into another Meridian and using the governor cycle in self- and other-Meridians.

Gao-Wu, during the Ming Dynasty (1519 AD), was the first and foremost medical acupuncturist to tonify de-
ficiency and sedate the excess on the basis of either depletion or repletion of the promotion cycle, which is ex-
plained in “The Four Needle method” by Ross [6] [7]. Saam acupuncture [8] proposes the Five Elements acu-
puncture style that simultaneously uses the Five Shu points of the promotion and the control cycles, called the
“Four Needle technique” by Hicks et al. [9] and the “eight Needle methods” by Ross [6].

Gao-Wu described the use of “tonification and sedation points” along the self Meridian using the Five Shu
points. The basis of Gao-Wu’s treatment was the creation (mother-child) cycle and is included in the “Four
Needle method” with the following rules: to determine the tonification point for a Meridian, select the Mother
Element on the Meridian in question, and to determine the sedation points, select the Child Element. But Saam
acupuncture, on the basis of Gao-Wu’s treatment, created a Five Element acupuncture therapy by adding the
control (grandmother-grandchild) cycle, as well as selecting acupuncture points among other related Meridians.
From the above approach, this theory consisted of two tonifications and two sedation points, which were se-
lected from among the Five Shu points. The Five Shu points had characteristics of their particular Five Elements
theory according to the difficult issues in Nan-Ching.

The principles of Saam acupuncture originated from the creation and controlled cycles among the Five Ele-
ments and had the following rules: to determine the tonification and sedation points for a Meridian in deficien-
cies, first tonified the mother Element Five Shu points on the Meridian in question as well as the master point
(Five Shu points of same Element as the Meridian) on the mother Element Meridian, and then sedated the Con-
troller Element Five Shu points on the affected Meridian as well as the master point on the Controller Element

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H.-J. Kwon, Y.-S. Kim


2) Needle 2: Sedate the master on the Child Element Meridian. For Liver excess, the Child of Wood is Fire;
hence the Child of Liver is Heart. The master (Fire) point of the Heart, HT8, should be sedated.

3) Needle 3: Tonify the Controller Element on the affected Meridian. For Liver excess, the Controller of Wood
is Metal, so the Metal point on the affected Meridian, LR4, should be tonified.

4) Needle 4: Tonify the master point on the Controller Element Meridian. With Liver excess, the Controller
Element is Metal, hence the Controller of Liver is Lung, and the master (Metal) point of the Lung (Metal),
LU8, should be tonified.

To summarize the principle for deficiency conditions [19]: Tonify the first two needles—tonify the Mother
Element Five Shu point on the affected Meridian, and then tonify the master point on the Mother Element Meri-
dian; Sedate the second two needles—sedate the Controller Element Five Shu points on the affected Meridian,
and then sedate the master point on the Controller Element Meridian.

For example, if the Stomach is believed to be hypounderactive: (1) for Fire tonification, Stomach Meri-
dian-Fire point ST41, Small Intestine Meridian-Fire point SI5; (2) for Wood sedation, Stomach Meridian-Wood
point ST43, Gall Bladder Meridian-Wood point GB41 should be used. The other Meridians follow the same rule,
as described above.

To summarize the principle for excess conditions: Sedate the first two needles—sedate the Child Element
Five Shu points on the affected Meridian, and then sedate the master point on the Child Element Meridian; To-
nify the second two needles—tonify the Controller Element Five Shu points on the affected Meridian, and then
tonify the master point on the Controller Element Meridian.

2.3. Controller Element Meridian
For example, if the stomach is believed to be overactive: (1) for Metal (son) sedation, Stomach Meridian-Metal
point ST45, Large Intestine Meridian-Metal point LI1; (2) for Wood tonification, ST43 and GB41 should be
used. The Gall Bladder Meridian is opposed to the Stomach Meridian by the control (destructive) cycle of the
law of the Five Elements (the governor Meridian), so the Wood point of Gall Bladder Meridian, GB41, destroys
the element of Earth within the self-Meridian. The other Meridians follow the same rule described above (Table

Some kinds of diseases are caused by the imbalance between heat and coldness in the body and the corres-
ponding treatments consist of using the Water and Fire Element Five Shu points along the Meridian in question,
the Water Element Meridian, and the Fire Element Meridian. For a heat symptom, the Water point of the self-

Table 3. Saam acupuncture method for symptoms of deficiency and excess.

Deficiency (tonification) Excess (sedation)

Tonify Sedate Tonify Sedate

Lung SP3 LU9 HT8 LU10 HT8 LU10 KI10 LU5

Large Intestine ST36 LI11 SI5 LI5 SI5 LI5 BL66 LI2

Stomach SI5 ST41 GB41 ST43 GB41 ST43 LI1 ST45

Spleen HT8 SP2 LR1 SP1 LR1 SP1 LU8 SP5

Heart LR1 HT9 KI19 HT3 KI19 HT3 SP3 HT7

Small Intestine GB41 SI3 BL66 SI2 BL66 SI2 ST36 SI8

Bladder LI1 BL67 ST36 BL54 ST36 BL54 GB41 BL65

Kidney LU8 KI7 SP3 KI3 SP3 KI3 LR1 KI1

Pericardium LR1 PC9 KI10 PC3 KI10 PC3 SP3 PC7

Triple Energizer GB41 TE3 BL66 TE2 BL66 TE2 ST36 TE10

Gall Bladder BL66 GB43 LI1 GB44 LI1 GB44 SI5 GB38

Liver KI10 LR8 LU8 LR4 LU8 LR4 HT8 LR2

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H.-J. Kwon, Y.-S. Kim


Meridian and that of the Water Element Meridian are selected to tonify Water, as well as the Fire points of the
self and Fire Element Meridians selected to sedate Fire. For a cold symptom, the Fire points of the self and Fire
Element Meridians are selected to tonify Fire, as well as the Water point of the self-Meridian and that of the
Water Meridians selected to sedate coldness.

In the case of cold symptoms in the Lung, the coldness symptom can be balanced by both the tonification of
heat and sedation of coldness. Accordingly, the Fire points, LU10 of the self-Meridian and HT8 of the Fire Ele-
ment Meridian, should be tonified to warm “coldness.” Conversely, the Water points, LU5 of the self-Meridian
and KI10 of the Water Element Meridian, should be repressed. The other Meridians follow the same rules de-
scribed above.

In the case of heat symptoms in the Lung, the Fire symptom can be controlled by Water, and the Water points,
LU5 of the self-Meridian and KI10 of the Water Element Meridian should be tonified. Conversely, the Fire
points, LI10 of the self-Meridian and HT8 of the Fire Element Meridian, should be repressed. The other Meri-
dians follow the same rule described above (Table 4).

3. Method of Tonification and Sedation
Saam acupuncture is applied with stimulation techniques such as respiratory, rotational and directional methods.
Each stimulation results in tonification or sedation. Tonification and sedation occur depending upon clockwise
or counter-clockwise rotations in accordance with direction of Meridians. Tonification occurs following the in-
sertion of a needle as the patient exhales and removal at inhalation. Sedation occurs on insertion of the needle as
the patient inhales and removal on exhalation. Tonification occurs when the needle is inserted in the inclined
position following the direction of the flow of Qi in the Meridian. By contrast, sedation occurs following inser-
tion of the needle in the inclined position in the opposite direction to the flow of Qi in the Meridian [2]. In
theory, the use of acupuncture stimulation may be possible in treatment but strong technical movements on
acupoints located on shallow body surfaces, such as between finger tips and elbow or tips of toes and knee, may
be hard for the practitioner to access. Clinically it is recommended that practitioner do not use strong stimula-
tions. A simple and weak stimulation seems to be enough to gain the acupuncture effect.

4. Diagnosis Method
The scope of Saam acupuncture can be extensive because of its diverse laws, such as the promotion and inhibi-

Table 4. Saam Acupuncture Method for Symptoms of Cold and Heat.



Cold Heat

Tonify Sedate Tonify Sedate

Lung HT8 LU10 LU5 KI10 LU5 KI10 SP3 LU9

Large Intestine SI5 ST41 LI2 BL66 LI2 BL66 SI5 ST41

Stomach ST41 SI5 ST44 BL66 ST44 BL66 ST36 BL54

Spleen SP2 HT8 SP9 KI10 SP9 KI10 SP3 KI3

Heart HT8 KI2 HT3 KI10 HT3 KI10 HT8 KI2

Small Intestine SI5 BL60 SI2 BL66 SI2 BL66 SI8 ST36

Bladder SI5 BL60 SI2 BL66 SI2 BL66 ST36 BL54

Kidney HT8 KI2 KI10 HT3 KI10 HT3 SP3 KI3

Pericardium HT8 PC8 PC3 HT3 PC3 HT3 SP3 PC7

Triple Energizer TE6 BL60 TE2 BL66 TE2 BL66 TE6 BL60

Gall Bladder GB38 SI5 GB43 BL66 GB43 BL66 BL54 GB34

Liver LR2 HT8 KI10 LR8 KI10 LR8 LR3 SP3

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H.-J. Kwon, Y.-S. Kim


der of So-yang Taegeuk acupuncture and So-eum Taegeuk acupuncture at week 2 and 3 respectively, with acu-
puncture for group B conducted in reverse order. The simple rest and So-eum Taegeuk acupuncture did not
show the significant changes in response to LF(norm) and HF(norm) after stress stimuli. So-yang Taegeuk acu-
puncture did, however, significantly decrease LF(norm) and increase HF(norm). So-yang Taegeuk acupuncture,
compared to So-eum Taegeuk acupuncture, significantly stabilized autonomic nervous system.

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