chinese medicines
green medicine
by specific condition
how it's done
listening & smelling
chinese medicine
causes of disharmony
the meridian system
the five elements
vital substances
yin yang theory
zangfu organs
tai chi





The observation portion of diagnosis begins the moment the patient appears before the practitioner. In this step, the practitioner is forming an initial impression of the patient, while assessing the seriousness of the condition based on four main considerations:

Vitality: the color, complexion and lustre of the skin, and the overall general impression of the patient are key points in observation. The appearance of the face is an excellent indicator of vitality as all the acupuncture meridians flow to the face, by their primary or secondary pathways, and the state of Blood and chi (qi) is very evident in this area.

As well, the color of the face may reveal problems in the functioning of the organs. For example, black circles under the eyes could indicate kidney weakness, whereas red coloring (which relates to heat/fire) is linked with the heart. Black or blue coloring is linked with the kidneys, blue-green may involve the liver, and white implies a lung problem.

Body Appearance: the appearance of the body can also provide the practitioner with good information as to where the problems lie. At this point the practitioner is mainly looking for the distribution of fat, type of build, appearance of body hair, etc.. For example, it is difficult for yang qi to be distributed in a body with excess fat, therefore an overweight person is more susceptible to cardiac arrest and stoke.

Facial Features: facial expressions tell the practitioner about the psychological status of the patient, whether it be sad, happy, anxious or overjoyed, and are a point of consideration prior to making a diagnosis. The features themselves, including the eyes, nose, mouth and lips, can also provide evidence of excess or deficient conditions causing imbalance in the body.

The Tongue and its Coating: the inspection of the tongue is a vital diagnostic procedure in the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The color, coating, shape and texture of various parts of the tongue yield information about the state of the organs.

A normal tongue is moist and has an "appropriate" red color. A light red or pale tongue is a sign of deficiency in both qi and blood. A thick, purple colored tongue is often associated with alcoholism, while cracks in the tongue show dryness, heat, and deficient yin.

Prior to an examination, it is important not to eat or drink anything that will discolor the tongue and give a misleading impression to the practitioner.

Related Topics

questioning as part of diagnosis

palpation as part of diagnosis
listening and smelling as part of diagnosis



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The information provided on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Should you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering any natural remedy.

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