Diagnosis in traditional Chinese medicine may appear to be simply a grouping of symptoms, but the elegance of Chinese medicine is that a diagnosis automatically indicates a treatment strategy.

For example, a woman experiencing menopause may have hot flashes, night sweats, thirst, and irritability; this group of symptoms leads to a diagnosis of kidney yin deficiency with heat. This diagnosis immediately points to the indicated therapy: Tonify kidney yin and clear deficiency heat. Since standard formulas are available for this pattern, such as Rehmannia Teapills, an accurate diagnosis enables a practitioner to prescribe a treatment that has been proved safe and effective for thousands of years.

A practitioner can obtain all of the information needed to diagnose disease through inquiry and external observation. The four basic categories of diagnostic observation are looking, listening and smelling, asking, and touching. Simply by employing these four areas of investigation, traditional practitioners can accurately assess physical and emotional imbalances of the internal organs and reestablish harmony.

It is important to remember that diagnostic indicators are always viewed holistically -- that is, in total and in relation to the whole person. For example, fatigue is a symptom of qi or blood deficiency, but fatigue is also a symptom in a case of wind cold. If a person with wind cold was mistakenly diagnosed with qi deficiency, he might be given ginseng, a strong tonic that would make the symptoms much worse.

A careful practitioner would note that the person's pulse was strong and floating, a sign of wind cold, while a person with qi deficiency would have a deep and weak pulse. While it is necessary to learn the individual diagnostic patterns, it is crucial to remember that any sign or symptom must be viewed in relation to the whole person.

In this article, you will learn about the observational methods used to diagnose an illness in Chinese medicine and which signs and symptoms a practitioner looks for to make a diagnosis.

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