Consultation is an important part of every treatment and can be therapeutic in itself. The main difference between traditional methods of diagnosis and modern ones is the use of technology. Whereas modern diagnostics attempt to reduce human error by relying on machines to give accurate measures, physicians of the past had to hone their senses to search for clues and valued subjective interpretations as much as objective analysis.

Chinese medicine has four main examinations:

This means studying the person for any usual signs, including gait, posture, movement, complexion and the health of their main sensory organs. The tongue may also be studied for signs of redness, pallor, dryness, swelling and health of the coating to determine the state of the body.

Listening should more accurately be called 'listening to your senses'. It refers to listening the timbre of a person's voice, the quality of their breathing, any usual smells we can detect in their presence. Taste was also a traditional examination for diabetes (sugars in the urine) but is replaced by more palatable measures today.

This is the interview portion of the examination and listening to their answers. Since we are looking for connections and relationships between different aspects of a person's life we will explore their main complaint in some detail, sometimes going far away from the initial starting point.

Palpating the body for areas of tenderness, pain, stiffness, flaccidity, knots, unusual warmth or coldness all give information. This part of the diagnosis may seem to overlap with the treatment, especially in Tui na, but in fact all of the diagnostic principles are ongoing as we seek to guide the body back to balance.

Pulse diagnosis is a special examination included under feeling. This is a refined art and looks at the subjective qualities beyond its regularity and speed. I consider it as a way to listen to the person's emotional state of mind, like listening to a piece of music and picturing what mood the conductor is in.

Bian Que 扁䳍
legendary physician in the 4th century BC to whom the four examinations are attributed

Part of the training of all BAcC members is be familiar with western medical conditions and important signs that indicate you may need modern testing. In such cases we will advise you to contact your GP.