The Art and Science of Observation in Chinese Medicine

     The first step in an acupuncture treatment is to diagnose any possible imbalances. This is the best way to assess your state of health, as well as to stay on course with a plan to maximize a healthy outcome.


     In addition to identifying signs and symptoms, Chinese medicine has a long history of using various forms of palpation and observational diagnosis techniques, including pulse taking, tongue diagnosis, and face reading.


      Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners understand that the internal functioning of the body will appear externally, so we use the information gleaned from these techniques to underscore our diagnoses for meaningful improvements in your health.

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Tongue Diagnosis

     Observation of the tongue is very useful in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Your tongue is another microsystem that represents the state of your whole body, so we look at the size, shape, color and coating to diagnose possible imbalances throughout your body.


      The state of your tongue can change frequently. When you get a cold, the coating on your tongue may thicken. Eating a large, rich meal with several glasses of alcohol may also contribute to an increased coating on your tongue or even change the color. Observing these differences is vital to your overall diagnosis.

Pulse Diagnosis

     The qi flow throughout the body is connected. One way to assess the strength or vitality of each qi channel and its corresponding organ system is pulse palpation.


     In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), there are 12 different pulse positions on the ulnar side of the wrists. Six of the channels can be assessed on the right hand, while the other six reside on the left. On each side, there are three positions and at least two depths. This is a prime example of how we use the holographic nature of the qi flow to understand the body.


     By placing three fingers along the ulnar edge of your wrist and feeling the movement of the pulse at different depths, we can assess various health qualities. Acupuncturists will feel for relative speed, depth, strength and texture qualities that contribute to the diagnosis of your overall state of health. This information is incorporated into the TCM diagnosis and used to assess improvement with treatment.

Face Reading

     One of the more interesting forms of traditional observation is face reading. This diagnostic system uses the microsystem of the face to tell the body's story of internal health.


      As you know, faces evolve over time and say a lot about our journey through life. They're the combination of genetics, passed down from parents, affected by life experiences and expressions most commonly made, and yet also depict the health of internal functions.


      With careful inspection, a trained Chinese medicine practitioner can determine the state of your kidneys, lung and liver by inspecting different areas of your whole face.

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