What are TCM Diagnostic Methods?
A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor assesses a person's state of health by collecting and analyzing clinical information on the basis of diagnostic methods. TCM diagnostics is a study of the theories, methods and diagnosis techniques. Some are unique to TCM while others are similar to those used in Western medicine. Its rich substantial content is the foundation of all branches of TCM.
A TCM doctor makes a diagnosis based on his sensory perceptions to gather clinical information and then analyses and interprets this data usually without resorting to any apparatus. The doctor can diagnose internal pathological (disease) changes through observation and analysis of external signs. The Chinese believe the human body is an organic whole, and all parts are connected with each other by channels and collaterals (otherwise known as meridians). The internal is related with the external, and the exterior with the interior. Pathological changes inside the human body are reflected externally as abnormalities of the complexion, emotions, appearance of the tongue, or pulse irregularities.
There are four examination methods: Questioning/history taking, inspection, auscultation (listening) & olfaction (smelling), and palpation. The four methods have their unique clinical functions and cannot be replaced by one another. Sometimes, false manifestations of a disease occur which emphasize the importance of integrating all diagnostic methods.
The above methods are esential to determine the cause and origin of the problem from which an individual suffers. As has been discussed in this article, the symptoms experienced or felt on the outside of the body can often reflect a problem with the internal organs, yin yang balance or qi (vital energy) flow. Causes of the symptoms are often attributed to exogoneous evils that invade the body and disrupt its internal balance leading to illness, but illness can also arise on the inside of the body and express symptoms on the outside. A skilled TCM practitioner is usually able to distinguish where the origin of the problem comes from by using the examination techniques explained in this article.