In TCM, there are five diagnostic methods: inspection, auscultation, olfaction, inquiry, and palpation.
- Inspection focuses on the face and particularly on the tongue, including analysis of the tongue size, shape, tension, color and coating, and the absence or presence of teeth marks around the edge.
- Auscultation refers to listening for particular sounds (such as wheezing).
- Olfaction refers to attending to body odor.
- Inquiry focuses on the “seven inquiries”, which involve asking the patient about the regularity, severity, or other characteristics of certain bodily functions and complaints.
- Palpation includes feeling the body for tender points, palpation of the wrist pulses as well as various other pulses, and palpation of the abdomen.
TONGUE AND PULSE
Examination of the tongue and the pulse are among the principal diagnostic methods in TCM. Certain sectors of the tongue’s surface are believed to correspond to the zàng-fŭ. For example, teeth marks on one part of the tongue might indicate a problem with the Heart, while teeth marks on another part of the tongue might indicate a problem with the Liver.
Pulse palpation involves measuring the pulse both at a superficial and at a deep level at three different locations on the radial artery . The pulse is examined for several characteristics including rhythm, strength and volume, and described with qualities like “floating, slippery, bolstering-like, feeble, thready and quick”; each of these qualities indicate certain disease patterns. Learning TCM pulse diagnosis can take several years.