Why do you get to stick your tongue out at your acupuncturist and get away with it? Not only does it break the ice between patient and practitioner, but it is one of the main diagnostic tools easily available.
The tongue is the part of the digestive system that we can see from the outside. It is the blueprint of organ health as well as the overall state of internal imbalance. I look at the shape of the tongue (puffy, thin, wide, pointy), the color of the body, the coating quality and color, overall moisture content, and any landmarks (teeth marks on the sides, red spots, cracks). Using acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition we can achieve a healthy beautiful tongue.
The pulse is the primary and most utilized method of diagnosis in Oriental medicine. Thousands of years ago, when there wasn't any technology such as blood tests, MRI's, X-rays, and so on, the ancient practitioners took the pulse. Today, the pulse remains sacred.
There are 3 different pulse positions, superficially and deep, located on each wrist. That is a total of 12 pulses that we read. The rate of the pulse is taken, as it is in Western medicine, but we also look at the quality, characteristics, and personality of each pulse position. The different locations represent an organ system and meridian. I want to know if the pulse is strong and bounding against my fingertips at the surface, or deep and weak, difficult to palpate. Is it thick or thin within the blood vessel? The Chinese even have fun labels for pulse descriptions, such as "spinning bean pulse", "bamboo stalk", or "wiry". These metaphors describe the imbalance within the system and therefore which points, herbs, techniques, or other therapies to use in order to realign the balance within the body. I can feel the difference within the pulses before, during, and after treatments to know we are on the proper course of the healing journey
Other Diagnosis Tools
Other diagnostic tools used include general observation, palpation, and listening. While working on the cruise ships it was quite common for me to treat patients who spoke little to no English. They may point at the area of pain or discomfort and that was the only hint I received. However, by looking at the tongue, feeling the pulses, observing the body (posture, color, tone, shape, gait, etc.), palpating along the meridians or channels, and listening to the voice or body language (quiet, loud, soft, weak, choking, sobbing, timid, etc.) I was able to treat appropriately and see amazing results.
Another situation I come across frequently in the health industry is lack of information. Not everyone wants to tell their full story to a stranger. The most common complaint I deal with is pain related. However, after the pain has decreased or disappeared completely and a trusting environment has blossomed, people open up and ask me how I knew to treat their insomnia, or anxiety, or constipation. The body knows. Through diagnostic tools used over thousands of years, the body tells the story to the practitioner while leaving the embarrassing details private. By addressing the imbalances, ALL symptoms are treated. The journey is yours, the guidance is offered, and the rewards are shared.