Diagnosis in Traditional Medicine uses a number of different modalities:
- Observation: by looking at the person we can immediately observe certain things. The body build, size, posture, skin color, complexion, hair, eyes and facial expression can all tell the physician certain details.
- Palpation: palpation is feeling. Feeling the body can detect Heat or Inflammation, tenderness or pain, swelling or tumors
- Pulse: feeling the pulse has been used in all systems, to a greater or lesser extent. However, the Chinese and Tibetans have excelled above other systems. There are a number of different pulses recognised, but in effect, there are 8 parameters: fast & slow, strong or weak, deep or superficial, regular & irregular. In addition, each wrist has 3 pulse positions, and each position is related to a different organ. So a Fast and Strong pulse in the Liver position would indicate excess Heat of the Liver. In addition, certain 'special' pulses have been used to diagnose certain things including time of death and sex of an unborn baby.
- Tongue Diagnosis: the tongue can show various conditions of the internal organs. The color of the tongue, color of the tongue coating, and the texture of the tongue all denote certain conditions. The tip of the tongue relates to the Heart, the center to the digestion, the edges to the Liver and under the tongue shows the Kidneys. So a red tongue tip shows Heart Fire, while a thick white coating in the center of the tongue shows Dampness of the Stomach and Spleen.
- Eye Diagnosis: traditional Eye diagnosis is different to modern Iridology as practiced by Naturopaths. Traditional diagnosis focuses more on the whites of the Eyes. Red blood vessels show heat, yellowness of the Eye whites denotes Liver condition or Jaundice; Blueness of the Eye whites shows a Wind condition; Fatty lumps in the blood vessels can denote plaque and cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels. The eyes also show the state of the 'Spirit'. When the eyes are bright and clear, Spirit and consciousness is strong. When the eyes are dull, dark or without sparkle, it denotes dullness of the Mind and Spirit.
- Urine diagnosis: this has been much used in the West, and in Tibetan Medicine. The color, smell, taste and sediment all denote certain conditions. High colored yellowish urine shows a Heat condition; very clear Urine may show a cold condition; lots of sediment may mean poor digestion or Bladder Ulcers; fine sand in the bottom of the vessel indicates Gravel and Stones; lots of bubbles indicates Wind.
- Stool diagnosis: stool shows the state of the digestion. A good digestive system makes a well formed stool that should float and doesn't smell too bad. Sinking stools shows poor digestion; foul smelling stool shows fermentation; blackish stool suggests bleeding in the stomach; blood in the stool shows bleeding from the Intestines, or internal Hemorrhoids.
- Questioning: correct questioning often leads the doctor to a quick diagnosis. It can show aggravating factors such as diet, for example. It is important for differential diagnosis. For example, if a Cough is coming from a Hot or Cold disorder. Questioning usually asks about digestion, diet, sleep, menstruation etc.
- Medical Astrology: a whole branch of Traditional Medicine deals with Medical Astrology. If a planet is weak in your Birth-chart it can have a negative effect on an organ of the body. In India, still today, special therapists prescribe a certain gem stone to be worn on a certain finger to help balance weakness or bad aspects in the Birth chart. Tibetan Medicine considers Astrology to be closely allied with Medicine too.