Three-Step Procedure

In the daily practice of Chinese medicine it is often difficult to synthesize a complete picture of the patient’s condition, even though all the information has been retrieved from the history, face, pulse, and tongue. Practitioners often ask which is the more important of the two, tongue or pulse diagnosis, and what is the best way to evaluate the signs, symptoms, and findings. This subject will be discussed more thoroughly in Section 1.2.7.

Tongue diagnosis represents only one aspect of the diagnostic process in Chinese medicine. It is, therefore, extremely important to view each diagnostic finding in the context of the overall picture. When undertaking tongue diagnosis, a clear understanding of the entire person and pathology is required to evaluate either general or specific tongue signs. The process thus involves three steps:

1)  First, one should form a general impression. In tongue diagnosis, this means observing the tongue’s vitality.

2)  Second, collect and identify the individual signs concerning the tongue’s color, shape, and coating. In order to assess these signs, a topographic map of the tongue should be used.

3)  Third, reevaluate the general impression in light of the individual signs. Through this synthesis, a diagnosis can then be formulated.

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