The concept of traditional Chinese medicine disharmony has evolved over the centuries into a sophisticated system of diagnosis. By following various established diagnostic procedures, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine can construct a detailed picture of the status of all the internal organs without the aid of laboratory tests or other types of modern technology.

To identify a pattern of disharmony, the physician will assess the status of the organs, gradually uncovering the cause of the disease by grouping the symptoms into traditional patterns.

Traditional Patterns of Disharmony

During the initial patient visit, the practitioner must organize all of the seemingly unrelated facts gathered about a patient's condition, gradually refining this information into diagnostic categories.

At first, the practitioner organizes the evidence loosely into general categories known as the eight parameters, which consist of four groups of polarities: yin and yang, heat and cold, internal and external, excess and deficiency.

This eight-parameter diagnosis is the basic founda­tion for all diagnostic categories. It gives the practitioner a general overview of the patient's disease, or pattern of disharmony. Once the practitioner has grouped the symptoms according to the eight parameters, he or she can further refine the diagnosis to determine the condition of the vital substances and internal organs.

In this way, the diagnosis evolves from a general image into a specific, clear description of the individual patient's physiologic processes. For example, in organ diagnosis, spleen qi deficiency is a pattern of disharmony. This is a very specific diagnosis. In eight-parameter diagnosis, the same imbalance is classified generally as a deficient internal condition.

Go to the next page to learn about the eight parameters of disharmony in traditional Chinese medicine.

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