Q. Dear Mark How does a traditional acupuncturist decide what is wrong with a patient? When I went for acupuncture, the questions were very thorough.
A. Dear Simon
Many thanks for your question. The process is called a Full Traditional Diagnosis (or FTD).
This primarily includes listening, looking, touch and questioning. The crucial point is the information being sought is not just about the main complaint, but also about the person who brings it.
With the information gathered, you are looking for patterns, bits that fit together. It is important to try not to take bits of information in isolation.
With listening, as well as listening to the client’s description of the problem, you listen for the strength and tempo of their voice.
The voice relates to the Five Sounds and these can point to disharmonies in different Chinese Medicine (CM) Organs, or Elements.
It is similar with looking. You are not just looking at the site of a problem, if appropriate, ie dignity permitting, but the general demeanour and overall vitality.
You are also identifying which acupuncture channels run through the area of the problem.
Does the problem lie over where one channel starts and another ends?
Importantly, the traditional acupuncturist will also look at your tongue. Different areas of the tongue relate to different CM Organs of the body.
The shape, colour and the tongue coating can be an indication of the health of the CM Organs.
For touch, where appropriate, touch is used assessing pain, texture, movement and temperature.
Importantly, the traditional acupuncturist will also take your pulses and these can form a significant part of the diagnosis of the main complaint or underlying disharmonies that could be hindering recovery.
The pulses taking is to read the texture of the pulse, rather than simply the pulse rate, and this provides information on the state of the energetics of the 12 CM Organs.
The pulses are also taken during and at the end of treatment to monitor its effect.
The art of pulse-taking can be considered a lifetime study.
Questioning is of course essential. The questions are to gain detail information of the main problem and also, sleep, digestion, headaches, breathing, etc and what are the stresses and strains and also areas of enjoyment in life to get that big picture of each client.
Again, the detail and breadth of questioning is to seek underlying issues.
As ever, for peace of mind, please use properly-qualified practitioners, who are members of a professional body.
Mark practices Traditional Acupuncture, Tui Na, Reiki, Reflexology and Cosmetic Facial Acupuncture in Chichester and Petworth
Member the British Acupuncture Council and the Federation of Holistic Therapists.
Mark Shepherd practises Acupuncture, Reiki, Reflexology and Cosmetic Facial Acupuncture in Chichester.
He is a member of the British Acupuncture Council and the Federation of Holistic Therapists.