Wang, Wen, Wen, Qie. In TCM, this means looking, listening, asking and feeling the pulse. These are the four methods a TCM doctor uses to determine a patient’s illness. Seems too simple to be true!
Dr. Wan Guowei is vice president of Beijing hospital of TCM. We ask him why TCM doctors use the four methods of diagnosis to determine illnesses. Dr. Guowei says, “observing a patient’s appearance could help TCM doctors discover the pattern and development of his illness. Does he have bright eyes? Does he have healthy skin or damaged skin?” The first diagnosis technique is Wang, or inspection in English. I asked them if you can really determine a patient’s illness by just observing his appearance? Guowei replied, “inspection contains four aspects: Spirit, complexion, physical conditions, and actions.”
Traditional Chinese medicine in Fort Lauderdale believes that the five sense organs of the face are reflections of the five major inner organs. The eyes reflect the diverse health; the nose reflects the lungs; lips reflect the spleen; ears the kidneys and the tongue the heart. Thus, a doctor can tell just by looking at the face if there is any health problem internally.
To see if the TCM specialist really can tell the quality of a person’s health just by looking at their face, I have brought some photos of some willing participants and I’ll let Dr. Guowei analyze the faces in the photos. Dr. Guowei first selected the photo of a man wearing eyeglasses. He looked at the photo and said, “this gentleman looks healthy, generally speaking.” Next, he looked at the photos of two children. He remarked, “as for these two children, they both have good figures. One girl sits straight, which indicates a healthy skeleton growth. And for this boy, you could see he looks tired. Clearly, he has been exhausted lately.” He looked at the last photo of a woman and said, “for this woman, her makeup is confusing because, when she goes to see a TCM doctor, she should wear no makeup.”
I asked Dr. Guowei what does “Wen” mean? He answered, “wen, or auscultation and olfaction in English, includes two aspects. First, TCM doctors will listen to the patient’s voice. If the patient suffers from poor digestion, or has been mentally ill, leading to bad breath, this is a manifestation of illness.”
I asked when is “Wen” about asking questions? He answered, “speaking of Wen, or inquiry in English, it’s more likely to show the doctor’s humanistic concerns. During the chat, you might feel relaxed as if you’re not seeing a doctor.”
My last question is about taking the pulse. I told him that since I used to be a lifeguard, I only feel the pulse to see whether a person is alive or not. So why does a TCM doctor take the pulse? Guowei replied, “pulse-taking is the essence of TCM as well as a distinguishing feature of TCM. For example, when feeling the pulse of a woman, the doctor may determine whether she’s pregnant or not and for how long.”
He added, “one example of a pulse examination is the Cun pulse. Cun, Guan, and Chi, three acupoints on the wrist, where the pulse is usually taken, are placed on the wrist from the outside to the inside. That is to say, they represent different organs, namely the heart, liver and kidney. Pulses on the right-hand represent lung, spleen and vital gate. Guess what is the most important part in the four methods of diagnosis? Check the coating on the tongue. In terms of tongue, TCM doctors regard it as a natural gastroscope.”
I asked if he could examine my tongue. He agreed. After observing, he commented “examining your tongue and pulse, I think you have heart-spleen deficiency. I guess you are really tired recently, and you should take some rest. You’ll be able recover after a good rest, you may not have any illness. The four methods of diagnosis come from daily life, and practice. Having accumulated experience for the past 2000 years, we have found that every detail in life will bring about a disease diagnosis. It is capturing the tiny changes of people that is the magic of traditional Chinese medicine.”
The four methods of diagnosis of traditional Chinese medicine is a direct, fast, convenient holistic approach to understanding a person’s individual situation even before symptoms present themselves, thus being able to bring the body back into good health without having to fight serious illness.