Personalised Health: Korean Eight Constitution Medicine

People are different. We all have different abilities and preferences, and the same applies to your health and ‘constitution (body type)’. For example, you may know someone who controls weight and thrives on a meat diet, but others who eat meat may suffer from allergies, bowel movement issues, and skin problems. A High-Carb diet may work wonders for some, but leaves others feeling tired, gaining weight, and leading to metabolic syndrome. Vigorous exercise is good for some, swimming is better for others. So knowing your constitution – for example, what food and fitness activities suit you – is the foundation to leading a healthy life.

According to Eight Constitution Medicine, there are 8 constitutions based on the strength of various physiological functions, including autonomic nervous function, metabolic function, and rhythmic function of heart and lungs.

What are the 8 constitutions?

Hepatonias have strong liver function but weaker lung function. They are generally robust and muscular. When healthy, they have a higher than average blood pressure, and tend to sweat, but that is natural for them. Filling the lungs with oxygen by mountain climbing or cycling is beneficial, as are warm baths or a sauna. On the other hand, speaking at length exhausts the lungs and leads to fatigue. The liver produces bile that needs to be used to digest dietary fats. If Hepatonias eat too much seafood, a vegetarian diet, or not enough meat, they feel lethargic and the facial complexion may darken.

Pulmotonias have strong lung function and a weaker liver function. They can sing or speak at length, but are generally not muscular. They feel weak after perspiring, so sunbathing and vigorous exercise leave them fatigued. On the other hand, they find swimming invigorating because it keeps the skin cool. When eating meat and wheat, they may suffer from allergies, inflammation, or skin problems such as atopy. Vegetables, seafood, and a gluten-free diet are beneficial for Pulmotonias. Any medication must be carefully chosen because the detoxifying function of the liver is weak. Alcohol and caffeine should be moderated for the same reason.

Pancreotonias are prone to an overactive pancreatic and gastrointestinal function, but the function of the kidneys and adrenals is weaker. This leads to higher levels of gastric acid, a sensitive stomach, and a tendency to constipation. Pancreotonias need to take care with what they eat. Spicy food, lamb, chicken, ginger, wasabi, and alcohol can give rise to heartburn, and increase the risk of peptic ulcer, diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure, anxiety, inability to relax, and sleep disorders. Weak adrenals increase the risk of lower libido, infertility, and prematurely greying hair and aging skin. The good news is that a suitable diet alone has many benefits: healthier skin, easier weight control, better blood pressure, and improved libido. Iced drinks, fresh seafood and vegetables, pork, beef, and vitamin E are all beneficial for Pancreotonias. Sweating (running/sauna/sunbathing) is good for them, but cold baths and swimming should be avoided. 

Renotonias have strong kidney function but a weak pancreatic and digestive function. They are exhausted by overheating through vigorous exercise, sunbathing and hot sauna, whereas swimming is beneficial due to temperature regulation. When they sweat a lot during Summer seasons, they feel very tired and weak in their digestive function. Renotonias generally have poor circulation, which is exacerbated by cold food, iced drinks, beer, barley, cucumbers, and pork. On the other hand, various spices, lamb, chicken, beef, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, spring onions, and spicy food promote metabolic activity and circulation, warming their normally cold hands and feet. Foods or supplements containing Vitamin B are beneficial for them.

Colonotonias have a strong large intestine function, but weaker gall bladder and liver function. As a result, a gluten-free diet low in fat and dairy is important for their health. Sushi/rice, green leafy vegetables, clams, iced drinks, hot chocolate, cucumbers, grapes, and vitamin C are all beneficial for them. They should avoid meat, wheat, coffee, and alcohol. A meat diet can adversely affect the immune function of the intestines, making them susceptible to inflammation, and more serious conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Dementia. Chronic constipation or diarrhoea is a early warning sign for deterioration of their health. Colonotonias need to be careful when taking medication such as antibiotics because the liver is slow to remove toxins from the body.

Cholecystonias have strong gall bladder function but a weak large intestine function. They tend to be athletic, have a good appetite, and have frequent bowel movements, typically 2-3 times a day. A diet including beef, pork, grains, and root vegetables promotes circulation and stamina. They also need vigorous sports activity, or they can suffer from constipation. If they consume a lot of seafood, they will often feel abdominal discomfort and experience chronic diarrhoea. They need to keep the abdomen warm, so drinking beer or swimming in cold water can result in diarrhoea, high blood pressure, and respiratory problems.

Gastrotonias have an overactive stomach and pancreas, but weaker bladder and kidney function. Foods further promoting hyperactive digestive function (such as spicy food, hot food, greasy food, lamb, chicken, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, curry, tomato, oranges, apples) not only cause digestive problems, but can also result in anxiety and autonomic function imbalance in the long run. This constitutional imbalance can manifest as indigestion, constipation, chronic headaches, skin issues, and sometimes whole body pain. They should be particularly careful of side effects from medication (such as antibiotics). Alcohol and swimming in cold water are not beneficial. Fresh and cool foods and drinks can help to counter-balance their overactive digestive function. A glass of cold or iced water in the morning, and mixed grains (e.g. rice, barley, red bean, foxtail millet) would reduce overactivity in the stomach, while pork, seafood (blowfish, monkfish, prawns, crab, oysters), and vitamin E are beneficial for Gastrotonia’s weak kidney function. When Gastrotonia is on the right constitutional diet, they tend to maintain good health on their own so they usually have less need for visits to the doctor compared to other constitutions.

Vesicotonias have strong Bladder/Kidney function but weaker Stomach/Large Intestine function. Their health is closely related to digestive processes. For example, if they eat a lot of cold foods, their already low stomach function gets further weakened. Indigestion becomes the root cause of chronic illness from gastrointestinal dysfunction to psychological issues due to phlegm-dampness accumulation in the body. Their health can be easily compromised in the Summer season because frequent sweating and cold food intake make their digestive function weaker. Small meals, warm foods, and less sweating are helpful guidelines for Vesicotonia to maintain good health especially in Summer. Gastroptosis is the signature disorder of Vesicotonia. Profuse sweating and diarrhoea drains their energy and makes them feel fatigued and weak. They should eat small meals throughout the day, rest after meals (but not falling a sleep), avoid cold food and drinks (pork, barley, cold beverages), and prevent sweating, avoid the sauna, and shower with warm water instead of hot water.

What can ECM treat?

Some health conditions that can be treated effectively with ECM include diet and weight issues, skin complaints, allergies, asthma, recurrent inflammation, low immune function, chronic pain, arthritis, headaches and migraines, infertility, menopause/menstrual problems, sleeping issues, and digestive dysfunction. Dr Kang encourages patients to take control of their own health and prevent illness over the long term, so will provide a personalised regimen to you (diet and lifestyle choices) after several treatments. 

If you would like to make an appointment, please book through our Online Scheduler or call our reception at 02 4322 0700.



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Dr Hyonna Kang


Dr Hyonna Kang

Dr Hyonna Kang is the foremost practitioner in Australia of Korean Eight Constitution Medicine. Her passion is to help patients to learn how they are different physiologically and what regimens of diet, exercise, and lifestyle would benefit their health.

We are exposed to at least 140,000 chemicals, more than 30,000 of them in high volumes. We don't know how most of these chemicals individually affect our bodies and we have even less information on how they interact with each other or with medications we use. These chemicals are in your food and water, on your food, in the cleaning and skin care products you use and in your furnishings and household items.
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