TCM has developed unique diagnostic methods over the millennia. Diagnosing a sickness is utilising the four classic diagnostic methods: questioning, physical examination, touching, and hearing and smelling. Tongue and palpation are two cornerstones of diagnosis. By closely observing the shape, color and vitality of the tongue and by feeling the 29 different pulse indicators, the doctor or therapist can use these four diagnostic methods to form a picture of the disharmony. Not only do the physical problems become visible, but also the psychological ones, since the body and mind are closely linked in TCM.
In the anamnesis, the complaints and medical history are discussed. This includes the family and social situation. Ten typical questions are asked about the following aspects: appetite, thirst, urine, bowel movements / gas, pain, sleep, sweating, energy, warmth and, for women, about the cycle, pregnancy and childbirth.
Inspection (Physical Examination)
Closely looking at the tongue is an important diagnostic tool (color, shape, moisture, mobility, color and type of coating). The skin color, hair, eyes, body type and the type of movement of the patient as well as excrement and sputum etc. are also assessed.
Looking at the tongue is a unique diagnostic method. It comprises four aspects: the tongue shape, the tongue coating, the moisture and the sublingual veins (the veins under the tongue). A normal tongue is bright red, neither too thick nor too thin, and it should move smoothly. A normal tongue coating is thin, white and damp and is evenly distributed over the tongue. The sublingual veins are hardly or not at all visible. The tongue has a close relationship with the internal organs, the meridians, Qi, blood and body fluids. From those, the TCM doctor is able to detect disharmonies, diseases and their stages of development.
Hearing / smelling
When listening, the strength of the breath, the expression of speech, the sound of a cough, etc. are listened to. Smells in connection with any of the described conditions e.g .odor of breath, can be taken into account.
Palpitation (Pulse exam)
Depending on the situation, the stomach, painful areas, knots, meridians and / or points are felt.
The pulse exam
Traditional Chinese Medicine distinguishes a total of 29 pulse indicators. The TCM doctor measures the patient’s pulse with the index finger, middle finger and ring finger of the opposing hand. He places the fingers on the radial arteries of the patient’s wrist. Measurements are taken on each side, at three points and three levels. Through the pulse diagnosis, the TCM doctor finds out in which of the patient’s organ systems the Qi is not flowing properly, i.e. where there is an imbalance. Changes in the organs and disharmonies in the energy flow, in the body fluids, the life force as well as the spirit can be detected.