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Current location: Home >> TCM >> DIAGNOSTIC TECHNIQUES

THE PRACTITIONER of Chinese medicine confronted with the problem of trying to make sense of the myriad of processes going on within the individual. The need to have a systematic way of organizing all the information is of great importance if treatment plans and strategies are to be implemented successfully.

Some general approaches to diagnosis will be discussed, and several of the more commonly used frameworks for organizing such information will be considered.

The need to gather valid and comprehensive data is a sine qua non of any assessment process, regard-less of whether the problem is a burst pipe, a job applicant, a broken-down car, or an unwell person. Without this assessment it is impossible to formulate a hypothesis of what is going wrong and what to do about it. In Chinese medicine the diagnostic process is conducted in four areas -the four examinations.


Each area will reveal information that will contribute toward building a comprehensive whole. Invariably, in any diagnostic "story" there" will be some contradictory indicators that may appear to stand in opposition to what other findings suggest. The balance" of probability is likely to win out, and decisions will usually be made on the basis of the set of diagnostic indicators that "fit best."



The first thing that the practitioner of Chinese medicine will seek to do is to observe the patient and note anything about this or her physical appearance that may be of significance. To a large extent, this is something that we all do all the time....


Listening to the patient's voice can be useful. A loud, penetrating voice tends to suggest an excess condition, whereas a quiet voice k" more indicative of a deficient condition. Talking too much can sometimes be a sign of Heat, whereas on the other hand an unwillingness to talk suggests the presence of Cold.

A LOT of information is gathered by asking the patient a series of questions and considering the answers with respect to the principles of Chinese medicine. There are various aspects that are usually covered in the course of a diagnostic interview.
T he last aspect of the Four Examinations involves the practitioner working "hands-on" with tbe patient. There are two aspects of touching that need to be considered: palpation of the body and taking the puke.


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