“We determine your diagnosis by asking questions about your health and medical history, checking your tongue, and feeling your pulse.”
DIAGNOSING YOUR CONDITION
Eastern medicine approaches ailments differently than Western medicine does, and can often be confusing for the uninitiated.
We determine your diagnosis by asking questions about your health and medical history, checking your tongue, and feeling your pulse.
Your tongue can tell us a lot about the state of your body. For example, a swollen or “puffy” tongue with teethmarks indicates that your body is retaining an excessive amount of water and that there may be an issue with your water metabolism. A pale tongue can be an indicator of low blood volume, and pronounced blue veins under the tongue are a sign of poor circulation and stress.
Similarly, we can also derive important information from your pulse – a weak pulse can be a sign of low blood pressure, whereas an overly forceful pulse can mean high blood pressure. These are just some examples of what skilled practitioners can learn from your tongue and pulse.
THE EIGHT BASIC DIAGNOSES
Symptoms: Dry mouth, fast pulse, night sweats, irritable temper, anxiety, sweaty palms, trouble falling asleep, thirst for cold drinks, constipation, diabetes
Description: Yin represents your body’s internal fluids, which conduct metabolism, eliminate wastes, and regulate body temperature. Yin moistens and cools, and it puts you to sleep at night. A deficiency of yin leads to symptoms of “heat”, which can manifest physically (sweaty palms, dry mouth) or emotionally (restlessness while falling asleep, a “hot” temper).
Recommendations: Avoid dehydrating foods such as caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and hot spices. Eat cooling foods: tofu, berries, watermelon, seafood. Practicing yoga, tai chi, or meditation may also help cool your emotions.
Symptoms: No thirst, weak pulse, cold hands and feet, fatigue, aching lower back and knees, loose stools or incontinence, male impotence
Description: Yang is what gets you up in the morning and keeps you going through the day. As we age, we naturally have lower levels of yang than we did as children. However, yang deficiency can occur at any age from a lack of physical activity, overexposure to cold, or exhaustion. People who are recently vegetarian are also prone to yang deficiency during the first few months as their bodies adjust.
Recommendations: Try to be more physically active. Do not eat chilled foods (salads, cold drinks, etc.) as they force your body to expend additional energy for digestion. Use ginger, cinnamon, ginseng, and cayenne pepper in foods or teas.
Symptoms: weak pulse, breathlessness, fatigue, lack of appetite, irregular periods, allergies
Description: Qi translates as “breath” or “energy”, and it describes the ability of your body to generate internal movement — blood circulation, oxygen flow, intestinal motility, etc. Qi deficiency is somewhat similar to the Western diagnosis of “chronic fatigue”, in that your body lacks energy. It often occurs together with yang deficiency.
Recommendations: Eat foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as rice, carrots, sweet potato, yam, peaches, cherries. Limit consumption of rich, greasy foods. A vitamin supplement may help. Plan for small, frequent meals, and bedtime around 10 or 11pm.
Symptoms: purplish tongue, wiry pulse, distension, bloating, excessive gas, depression, mood swings, headaches, sighing, pain in the ribs, high blood pressure, headaches
Description: Qi stagnation is caused by your body’s inability to clear out toxins, such as excessive caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pollutants, anything you are allergic to, stress, anger, and other negative emotions.
Recommendations: Limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, greasy foods, and highly processed foods. Try to remove sources of stress and anger from your life if possible, or find a calming hobby. Practice breathing deeply into your nose and out from your mouth, letting the breath slowly move your abdomen in and out.
Symptoms: pale lips and tongue, weak pulse, dry hair and skin, hair loss, brittle nails, numbness in the hands and feet, dizziness, headaches, irregular menstruation, infertility
Description: Blood deficiency is caused by either an inadequate intake of nutrients, or an inability to absorb nutrients. It is closely related to the Western medicine concept of anemia, which describes a lower than normal level of red blood cells. Insufficient iron is the most common cause of anemia, but simply adding more iron to your diet is not the cure. In order to absorb iron, one also needs adequate folic acid and vitamin B12.
Recommendations: To enrich and build the blood, eat leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and swiss chard. Animal protein, such as lamb, beef, and liver, is also good. If you are a serious athlete, you may also want to consider exercising a little less, at least temporarily.
Symptoms: purple lips and tongue, blue veins under tongue, choppy pulse, unnaturally dark complexion, fixed and stabbing pain, premenstrual pain, menstrual disorders, tumors, fibroids
Description: Blood stagnation refers to blood that does not circulate adequately. This may be caused by heart disease, tumors, or by injuries such as broken bones, bruises, or sprains. Women are also likely to be afflicted with blood stagnation through hormonal imbalances, which manifests as unusually heavy and painful periods.
Recommendations: Foods which disperse stagnant blood include garlic, ginger, scallion and chives, eggplant, and vinegar. Limit foods which are cold and very sweet, such as ice cream. Be sure to keep warm. Avoid overly processed foods and be sure to chew all foods thoroughly.
Symptoms: Pain in the neck, back, hips, elbows, knees, or other joints.
Description: Bi syndrome is a general term for pain, swelling, and/or stiffness in the muscles, tendons, and joints. It is very similar to the Western medicine diagnosis of arthritis. In Eastern medicine terminology, Bi syndrome is caused by obstructions that block the free flow of blood and Qi. Acupuncture and massage can help remove these obstructions.
Recommendations: Depending on the type of bi syndrome, your practitioner may recommend light exercise, rest, a pain-relieving ointment, massage, or some combination of these.
Symptoms: puffy tongue with teethmarks, sticky coating on the tongue, slippery pulse, headaches with a feeling of heaviness, being overweight, fatigue, water retention or edema
Description: Dampness creates a feeling of sluggishness: being easily tired, feeling heaviness in the body. It is related to poor metabolism and excessive water retention. In Western medicine, poor metabolism is often caused by an unhealthy liver due to too much saturated fats and refined sugar.
Recommendations: Foods which dry dampness are often bitter or aromatic, such as lettuce, celery, asparagus, vinegar, papaya, and chamomile. Limit foods which promote dampness: dairy products, meat, eggs, tofu and other soy products. Also limit saturated fats and sugars.
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