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Monday, August 20, 2018

Chinese Diagnostic Approach to Disease and Healing


Chinese Diagnostic Approach to Disease and Healing

Chinese medicine, with its thousands of years of history of development through trial and error, is different from Western medicine in many respects, and one of which is its diagnostic approach to disease and healing. According to Chinese medicine, disease diagnosis is important not just from the standpoint of healing but also from the perspective of preventing disease in the future.

In traditional Chinese medicine, disease diagnosis is not about running tests on the patient, as in the case of Western medicine; instead, it is about taking and evaluating data of the patient in terms of "yin" and "yang" as well as the "deficiency" or "excess” of  "qi," which is the internal life energy coursing through the meridians connecting all the body organs. Given that Chinese medicine focuses on the balance of "yin" and "yang" Chinese healing is based on the harmony of "yin" and "yang" expressed in the Five Elements, which represent different body organs, as well as the free flow of "qi." Any blockage or stagnation of "qi" will result in "deficiency"or "excess," either of which will lead to disharmony or disease. The purpose of Chinese diagnostic approach to disease and healing is to find out not only the causes but also the underlying patterns of disharmony, thereby instrumental in promoting natural cures as well as preventing relapses in the future.

For thousands of years, in Chinese health system, disease diagnosis has been comprehensive in that it includes the environment, the social factors, and the conditions of the patient, such as food and nutrition, as well as lifestyle. Therefore, Chinese diagnostic approach to disease and healing is detailed and all-inclusive.

In Chinese medicine today, diagnosis begins with data collection through observing, asking, listening, and touching.
The first level of Chinese disease diagnosis is visual inspection and observation of shen or spirit. Shen is the spirit of the body, manifested in the consciousness, personality, intellect, and other abstract qualities. Disharmony of shen in the patient is reflected in confused or distorted thinking, heavy body motion, dull and slow response, insomnia, and other mental and psychological disorders and problems. On the other hand, good shen is revealed in good eye contact, clear skin, and healthy complexion. The presence of shen, or the lack of it, is basically a reflection of the balance or disharmony of “yin” and “yang.”

The second visual diagnosis is the examination of the colors associated with the internal organs on the surface of the skin, such as red for heart, green for liver, yellow for spleen, white for lungs, and black for kidneys. Chinese medical practitioners look for specific places to identify the colors associated with different body organs; for example, the skin under the eyes, the temples, the skin by the nose, the lips, and the forearms are strategic areas for physicians to identify colors of the patient for disease diagnosis.

The most important observation is that of the tongue. For centuries, Chinese physicians have extensively observed the size and shape (e.g. long or short; swollen or thin; cracked or smooth), the contour, the margins, and the color of the tongue to determine the presence of disease and the overall health of an individual. To illustrate, the light or heavy coating of the tongue indicates the absence or presence of body fluids (stomach fluids); if the coat is thick, the fluids are sluggish; a thick white coat is considered normal and indicative of a relative fluid balance; a blackish coat indicates internal imbalance.

The lifestyle of the patient, such as his or her appetite, diet, digestion, elimination, sweat, sleep, energy level, exercise, and sexual activity, among others, is also part of the diagnostic approach to disease and healing.

Listening and smelling are other unobtrusive methods of disease diagnosis. In listening diagnosis, the Chinese physician listens for sound of voice and quality of speech to determine the health conditions of the patient. In smelling, the physician uses body odor, or quality of breath to determine the intensity of internal imbalance of the patient.

Touching is based on the pulse of the patient--a major index of the patient's internal health. In Chinese medicine, there are twenty-eight types of pulses, according to their speed, width, length, and rhythm. The abnormalities of the pulse indicate weakness or excess of "qi" in different body organs.

In Western medicine, doctors look for one single point where disease begins, and treatment is applied to remove or suppress the symptoms associated with the disease. The Chinese diagnostic approach to disease and healing is much more comprehensive and extensive in that the diagnosis aims at finding an underlying pattern of disharmony and identifying the organ and meridian that are the culprits, thereby instrumental in designing healing strategies for the disease.

For more information on Chinese healing, visit my website: Chinese Natural Healing.

Stephen Lau
Copyright © 20108 by Stephen Lau


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