A few of the diagnostic procedures and therapies new to me that we were able to explore and practice in class were: tongue and pulse diagnosis, moxibustion, cupping, and auricular therapy.
As far as I know, tongue examinations are not a common place practice in American healthcare. Until this class I had never cared or desired to inspect other people’s tongues. In TCM it is said that the appearance and health of ones tongue directly reflects what is going on inside the body. In other words, imbalances within the body that we cannot see will manifest on the tongue. What a fascinating concept! It does make a lot of sense if you stop and think about it since the tongue is the only internal organ that is easily accessible to look at. Once you start looking at tongues you realize how many different shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and coatings are possible, and they all mean something different. It takes practice and knowledge to become good at tongue diagnosis but it is a valuable skill to have. One peak at a person’s tongue can give you a lot of information. For example; an abnormally pale tongue indicates deficient blood or Qi; a red tongue that it much redder than normal indicates a heat condition in the body; scalloped edges from teeth along the sides indicates dampness in the body; pale tongue with depression at the root (back of tongue) indicates decreased Jing(essence) pointing to deficient Kidney Qi; thick mucus coating points to digestive issues. These are few of many possibilities. With a trained eye this form of examination can be very useful.
Another interesting examination used in TCM is that of the pulse. This is not what most people in the Western world would think of when it comes to checking ones pulse, the standard quantifiable beats per minute and systolic/diastolic pressures. Instead, this is in an in-depth analysis of the radial pulse. TCM has three different positions on each hand for taking the pulse with each corresponding to a different organ.There are two different positions for the pulse of the kidneys. The left side represents the Kidney yin, whereas the right side represents Kidney yang. There are also different depths at which a pulse can be read, either superficial, middle, or deep. Over time and with patience you can begin to feel the subtle differences in people’s pulses and decipher what they mean. A slower pulse is a sign of cold or insufficient Qi to cause movement, where as a rapid pulse is a sign of heat. An empty pulse which lacks strength and feels weak is a sign of deficient Qi or blood, where as a full pulse which feels strong and pounds hard is a sign of excess. There are many different classifications of pulse and to become good at pulse diagnosis takes many years of practice and experience. It is truly an art.