A feature of Chinese medical intake is how particular diagnostic tools elicit information about the patient’s unique state of imbalance, which guides the practitioner to personalized treatment choices. The four examinations are looking, listening/ smelling, palpation, and inquiry.
The practitioner looks at the patient for qualities such as skin color and luster, posture, gait, and visible signs of trauma or dermatological conditions. The practitioner will also examine the tongue, where Chinese medicine interprets changes in color, shape and coating as representing states of balance and imbalance of the internal organs.
The practitioner listens to the tone of the patient’s voice, to whether he/she is coughing or wheezing, and may inquire about various body odors and abnormal secretions.
The practitioner will palpate the pulse to gain insight into the functional health of different organ systems. He/she will also papate the abdomen to get more feedback about the state of balance of organs immediately below the surface.
To complete the process, the practitioner will elicit information via questioning, either verbally or through a written intake form. Questions about appetite, diet, elimination, energy, sleep, mood, general health history, and menstrual cycle for women will be asked.
The confluence of this information allows a practitioner to assemble the diagnostic pattern. This information is taken into consideration along with any diagnosis a Western physician has given the patient, and a treatment plan is developed that may include acupuncture, manual therapies, dietary therapies, and/or herbal remedies.