Diagnosis | How it works ?

What is the integrity of the physician? It resides in recognizing physical forms and signs, understanding pulse and breath, being clear about the deficiency and excess [of the pathology], and knowing about its passage and transmutation. Treatise on Enlightening the Principles of Cold Damage (Shang Han Ming Li Lun) Chéng Wújǐ

Diagnosis can seem to be a rather curious affair when looked at from our own medical perspective. However Chinese Medicine is in many ways, the same: first you assimulate your observations, then you conceptualise and classify the information. In Chinese Medicine, these classifications are observationally based principles used to construct  an understanding of the illness as it presents itself in relation to your body systems. As all illness is considered to be a deterioration of the functional (or homeodynamic) balance of the whole.

Redressing the functional balance will therefore allow the body to return to optimal potential, leaving the pathology without an environment to exist and the body able to protect itself once more. All pathology in Chinese medicine is considered to start from one of three causes: external, internal or conditional (external and internal together).


Construction of the Patterns of Illness

Treatment in Chinese medicine is formulated by the construction of the various aspects of a condition in to a number of overarching patterns called syndromes which take into account the root and the branch of a disease (ben and biao). As a consequence, two people who have the same condition in western medical terms (e.g. back pain) may have different syndromes in Chinese medicine (e.g. excess (acute - probably external (trauma)) or deficiency (chronic - probably conditional)). This distinction between patients is established by the presenting nature of the condition. The differentiation of which is established by diagnosis.

The development of these concepts were probably brought together during the Han dynasty and they form the basic organising principles of Chinese Medicine.  From these principles further constructs were refined to develop treatment principles appropriate to different modalities and predilections in Chinese medicine. The three main constructs are yin/yang and five phase theory (yin yang wu li lun), organ theory (zang fu li lun) and channel theory (jing luo li lun).