Traditional Chinese Medicine and Diagnosis


In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) all Chinese philosophical concepts like Yin and Yang, Qi, the Five elements, the Tao and Tai Chi have their concrete medical meaning. They are used to illustrate and explain the complex and intimate biological processes that take place in the human body to keep it functioning well, and to understand the mechanism of pathology of disease. As the human body is governed by the same natural laws as the rest of the universe, in order to re-introduce balance and good health the treatment needs to be based on the same universal principles: if too cold, warming is applied; if too hot, cooling is applied; if too weak, strengthening and nourishing is performed; if too overflowing and congested, clearing and draining is performed. This is achieved through acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments, utilising the interconnections between the organs(systems) in the body following the promoting and subduing relationship of the Five elements.

Diagnosis plays a central role in Chinese Medicine. The aim is to draw a full picture of the patient’s health by carefully investigating all symptoms; past medical and family history; lifestyle and diet; behaviour of all the different systems in the body; sleep patterns and emotional states. Especially important is the examination of face colour, the tongue and its coating, and the taking of the radial pulse, as well as palpating the energetic functional state of acupuncture meridians and points. Traditional diagnosis does not rely on external tests, and is based on the principle that you cannot find anything that is not already present and that pathologic changes and processes anywhere in the body have their corresponding manifestations. Only by carefully weighing the findings of different investigations can the principle cause and secondary manifestations of the disease be determined, and the appropriate course of treatment decided, taking into account the patient’s whole health. As is said in the “Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine” – “the man who can apply only the examination by interrogation diagnosis is a man of technical skill; the man who can apply both the pulse diagnosis and the examination by interrogation is called a man of divine skill; the man who can apply the three diagnoses, that is the examination of complexion by sight, the pulse diagnosis and the examination by interrogation, is called a man of clear insight”.

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