There are many ways to assess a person’s health in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The major forms of assessment include:
- Questioning and listening to a person’s story.
- Listening to the quality of a person’s voice.
- Feeling, particularly the pulse, and, in Japanese medicine, palpating the hara (abdominal reflex area).
- Looking, particularly at the tongue.
Additional assessments may include palpating special points on the back and the hara or pressing special points on the ears.
The hara, tongue, back, pulses, and ear all have specific areas associated with each meridian, and, in the case of the back and the ear, with each organ as well.
The goal of the assessment is to establish where imbalances lie, which meridians need more Qi, which show stagnation (stuck Qi), where there may be various other energetic imbalances, most of which are named for weather conditions, such as dampness, dryness, cold, heat, and wind. I’ll explain these to you as they become relevant. If you want to learn more about this immediately, I recommend Between Heaven and Earth, by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold, or the first half of Ted Kaptchuk’s The Web that has no Weaver.
When I work with a client over the phone, Skype, or internet, I use questioning, listening, and looking at a photograph of the tongue to do the assessment.