In the TCM “four diagnostic methods”, namely inspection, hearing and smelling, query, pulse taking and palpation are the basic methods to diagnose the general condition of a patient. The TCM four diagnostic methods can be dated back to the Warring States Period (475~221 B.C.), which has proven to be a prolonged clinical practice in the orient.
TCM physicians observe the patient’s mental state, facial expression, the changes of urine and stool, as well as the color of tongue to obtain information for a diagnosis. Tongue observation is an important part of inspection, one important diagnostic method in TCM. It is believed that the color of the tongue reflects the body condition. For instance, yellow or red color indicates that internal heat is excessive within one’s body. White color indicates that internal coldness is excessive within one’s body. If one’s body is poisoned with toxicity, the tongue will turn black.
Hearing and Smelling
TCM believe that sounds and smells correspond with specific organs respectively. For example, unclear or illogical speech and mood swing are the indications of mental disorder marked by extreme excitement or violence due to the heart disease(in TCM, here the mentioned heart organ refers to the brain). The symptoms of cough and low and weak voice usually are the indications of lung disease. In terms of smell, bad breath always indicates that there is something wrong with your stomach or oral healthy problem.
By inquiring the patients about their disease course, abnormal taste in the mouth or emotional changes, TCM doctors can deduce the affected organs, e.g. the liver tends to be attacked by wind in the spring, and the spleen tends to be affected by dampness in the summer, sweet taste in the mouth indicates spleen disease, excessive grief tends to impair the lungs.
Pulse Taking and Palpation
Pulse-taking, is another important method to diagnose the condition of the organs. There are 28 common pulse phenomenon with each reflects different body condition, these phenomenon varied too by different seasons. Generally, the slightly slow pulse in late summer shows the soundness of the spleen; the slightly deep pulse in winter reflects the normality of the kidneys.
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