Chinese Medicine Diagnosis Methods

The listening, smelling and questioning methods used in diagnosis in Chinese medicine are part of the diagnosis procedure made by the practitioner of Chinese medicine, the other two are known as palpitating and observation. They are a set of four methods which the practitioner will use in order to make the correct diagnosis and then begin treatment.

Listening and smelling

The voice and breathing pattern of the patient play a crucial role in the correct diagnosis of an illness; a very loud and assertive voice will suggest to the practitioner that there is a very strong yang presence, while a very weak voice will suggest the opposite, a yin presence. Very restless or particularly heavy breathing may be the sign of a deficient condition and even the persons cough can indicate where the problem might lie, coughs can be loud, persistent, dry or hacking and this all gives an indication of the condition of the lungs and the amount of phlegm if any that is present in them.

The odour of the body can also tell the practitioner the overall state of the body and its condition and play an important part in making the correct diagnosis; this is a part of the examination that the practitioner will have taken many years studying and perfecting. It is one method that is more traditionally used in eastern diagnosis than it is in western practices but it can tell the practitioner a lot about the overall health of a person when correctly performed.

There are generally thought to be two rather distinct smells which are able to define if the person has the presence of hot yang and a rotten or rancid smell is associated with this or a fishy smell and this is associated in general with yin. However, as a rule any unusual or strong odour is connected with ill health and illnesses.


During the first consultation, the practitioner will spend a lot of time asking the patient questions regarding their health and lifestyle. The questions will all relate to emotional, physical and energy related signs and symptoms, however they all come together to help the practitioner form a clearer picture of what is happening to the patient and the patients health. A full medical history will also usually be taken at this time which should include details of any illnesses in the past, operations and physical and mental traumas.

Questions which the practitioner might ask include

* Does the patient have preference for cold or heat.

* The frequency of which they pass water.

* Have there been changes to the sleep pattern.

* Do they have headaches and if so when, what is the duration.

* Questions regarding perspiration, how often, how much, in what circumstances.

* Changes to a women menstrual cycle.

* The diet and thirst.