There are four basic processes which the Chinese practitioner of medicine will use in order to diagnose illness, the four areas which are known as the four examinations are observation, listening and smelling, questioning and palpitation.
This part of the examination will begin the moment the patient walks through the door and this way the practitioner can gain a lot of information regarding the patient and form an initial impression. During this part of the examination the practitioner will gain information and determine the seriousness of the illness based on four principles.
The patient’s vitality
The patients colour, lustre of the skin, complexion and overall general appearance of the patient are all-important key factors at this stage with the face playing a major role in the diagnosis. The face is an excellent indicator of the patient’s vitality as all the meridian points flow to the face, the practitioner can also tell the state of the Qi and blood from the face alone.
The colour of the face also plays a crucial role in diagnosis as it reveals problems with other organs, for example if the patient has dark shadows under the eyes this could mean problems relating to the kidneys, a red colouring is related to problems with the heart. Any blue or black colouring in this area could indicate problems with the liver and very pale areas indicate problems relating to the lungs and breathing.
The appearance of the body
The practitioner will gain a lot of insight into the patient’s health just from the body, signs that the practitioner will look for are the distribution of fat, the type of build that the person has and even the appearance of body hair. Examples of this are, if there is a large amount of excess fat then the yang Qi can have difficulty in flowing throughout the body easily and there may be a blockage which in turn brings about ill health.
The facial features
Facial expressions can tell the practitioner a lot about the person’s psychological health, they will be able to tell if the person is happy, sad, relaxed, tensed or worried. This will then be taken into consideration before making a diagnosis, even the facial features can tell a lot about the overall health of the person and the practitioner will pick up on these too. The eyes, nose, mouth, lips and tongue can all show clear signs and are evidence of what might be wrong in the person.
The tongue and its coating
The practitioner will take a good look at the persons tongue,changes to the tongue are very often the first sign that something is wrong, evidence can be found by studying the colour and coating this then gives the practitioner a clearer indication of where the underlying problem might be.