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Traditional Chinese Medicine Diagnosis

Last updated by david at 2015/3/21

The principles and practice of diagnostics are key to administering effective treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The ability to recognize symptoms and complaints correctly is fundamental to deciding on appropriate remedies.

1.    The concept of diagnostics of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Guided by the theory of Chinese medicine, the diagnostics of TCM involves studying how to differentiate and diagnose diseases. It is the bridge between the basic theories and treatments, in the system of TCM.

2.    The content of diagnostics of TCM

The diagnostics methods are inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiring, and palpation.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Diagnosis

Inspection is observation by the doctor, using his eyes, of the systemic and regional changes in the patient’s vitality, colour, appearance and excretions. Auscultation and olfaction (listening and smelling) is listening to the patient’s speech, respiration, and cough, and smelling the odours of the patient.

Inquiring is asking the patient, or the patient’s companion, about the conditions associated with the illness in order to understand the pathological process. Palpation includes feeling the pulse, and palpation of different parts of the patient’s body.

Eight principles:
The Eight Principles describe the eight basic categories of syndromes – namely, Yin and Yang, exterior and interior, Cold and Heat, and deficiency and excess- used to analyze the location and nature of diseases, and the relative strength of the pathogenic factors and antipathogenic Qi.

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The syndrome differentiation involves a comprehensive analysis of the symptoms and signs obtained through applying the four diagnostic methods and interpreting them through the Eight Principles.

Applicable for all clinical treatments:

-    Differentiation of syndromes according to the Theory of the Eight Principles;  

-    Differentiation of syndromes according to the Theory of Aetiology.

Applicable for diagnosing endogenous diseases:

-    Differentiation of syndromes according to the Theory of Qi, Blood and Body Fluid;

-    Differentiation of syndromes according to the Theory of the Zang Fu Organs.
Applicable for diagnosing acute febrile diseases:

-    Differentiation of syndromes according to the Theory of the Six Meridians;

-    Differentiation of syndromes according to the Theory of Wei-defence, Qi, Ying-nutrient and Xue-Blood;

-    Differentiation of syndromes according to the Theory of the Triple Burner.

Each method has its own features and lays stress on a particular aspect while connecting with and supplementing the orders. How to write case reports is the basic skill that should be mastered by clinical doctors.

3.    The principles of diagnostics of TCM

-    To examine the entirety of the pathological changes and the environmental conditions of the patient.

-    To differentiate the syndromes and seek causative factors.

-    To use the four diagnostic methods in combination for a comprehensive analysis.

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