Chinese Medicine – Philosophy and Diagnosis

Pulse and Tongue Diagnosis

Your consultations with a Chinese Medicine practitioner will always result with the practitioner feeling your pulse on the wrist as this will give them clues about the functioning of your body and your health.

The practitioner will also look at your tongue as this also provides the practitioner with information relative to your health.

TCM philosophy

TCM philosophy is based on Five Phases theory and Yin-yang theory, which was later absorbed by the philosophical schools of Daoism.

The concepts of yin and yang

Yin and yang are ancient Chinese concepts. They represent two abstract and complementary aspects that every phenomenon in the universe can be divided into. The concept of yin and yang is also applicable to the human body; for example, the upper part of the body and the back are assigned to yang, while the lower part of the body are believed to have the yin character.

Yin and yang characterization also extends to the various body functions, and – more importantly – to disease symptoms (e.g., cold and heat sensations are assumed to be yin and yang symptoms, respectively). Thus, yin and yang of the body are seen as phenomena whose lack (or overabundance) comes with characteristic symptom combinations.

Five Phases theory

Five Phases (五行, pinyin: wǔ xíng), sometimes also translated as the “Five Elements”[21] theory, presumes that all phenomena of the universe and nature can be broken down into five elemental qualities – represented by wood (木, pinyin: mù), fire (火pinyin: huǒ), earth (土, pinyin: tǔ), metal (金, pinyin: jīn), and water (水, pinyin: shuǐ).[28] In this way, lines of correspondence can be drawn:

Fire (火) = Heart and Small Intestine;

Earth (土) = Spleen and Stomach;

Metal (金) = Lung and Large Intestine;

Water (水) = Kidney and Bladder

Wood (木) = Liver and Gallbladder

Qi and the body’s vital energy

TCM “explains that the body’s vital energy (chi or qi) circulates through channels, called meridians,

that have branches connected to bodily organs and functions.

TCM distinguishes many kinds of qi. In a general sense, qi is something that is defined by five cardinal functions.

The five “cardinal functions”

Actuation – of all physical processes in the body, especially the circulation of all body fluids such as blood in their vessels. This includes actuation of the functions of the zang-fu (organs) and meridians.

Warming – the body, especially the limbs.

Defence – against Exogenous Pathogenic Factors.

Containment – of body fluids, i.e., keeping blood, sweat, urine, semen, etc. from leakage or excessive emission.

Transformation – of food, drink, and breathe into qi, xue (blood), and jinye (“fluids”), and/or transformation of all of the latter into each other.