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A Two-Minute Intro to Traditional Chinese Medicine Diagnosis

People often ask: what are the methods used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to find the imbalance and the root cause of a patient’s illness? The answer to that is the four pillars

of diagnostic methods: Wang 望 (Observation), Wen 聞 (Auscultation), Wen 問 (Inquiry), and Qie 切 (Palpation).

1. Wang 望 Observation

Observation involves paying attention to a patient’s spirit, forms, facial complexion, the traditional five human sense organs, skin, meridians, and tongue. The focus is on the face, ears, body skin texture, and tongue. Observation such as a sweaty face, a red or pale face, pulsating veins, ear shape and condition, tongue size, shape, tension, color, and coating all have telltale signs to look for.

2. Wen 聞 Auscultation

Auscultation involves listening and smelling. We listen to the patient’s voice (strong/loud or soft/quiet), their sounds of coughing, wheezing, and breathing. We also pay attention to the patient’s body odor, and the smell of their breath.

3. Wen 問 Inquiry

Inquiry involves asking for the patients of their own observed symptoms, the occurrence and development of the illness, the process of treatment, and the history of the previous illness. We ask the patient whether they are experiencing chills, fever, and whether they have perspiration issues. We also ask about their appetite, feeling of thirst, and issues with taste, defecation, urination, pain, sleep, menstruation. This is typically done in combination of pressing on patient's meridians for pain spots.

4. Qie 切 Palpation

Palpation is the feeling of the condition of pulse and touching of the patient’s related sites of discomfort. In addition to the wrist, there are also other places to check for pulses, including the abdomen. There are over 30 types of pulses that can be "felt" which indicates different/possible ailment and imbalances in the body.

As an herbalist certified by Rosemary Gladstar working towards my master’s degree in acupuncture and oriental medicine, my aspiration is to continue learning and sharing holistic education with my family, friends, clients, and the on-line community. I have seen myself and many colleagues crumble down mentally and physically due to high stress in life. After suffering several health issues myself 12 years ago, I vowed to put mine and other's mind-body health a priority. I choose to be on the herbalist path because I know first-hand the value of mind-body health. It is priceless!

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