A traditional Chinese medical (TCM) consultation involves the following steps:
The practitioner may scrutinise your complexion, eyes, tongue, and movements to gain insight into how your organs are functioning. The tongue is a particularly important source of information, and its colour, body, coating, and moisture will all be taken into account.
The practitioner assesses the patient’s energy and general condition by taking into account a person’s body heat, odour, skin sensitivity, and using other senses to gain an insight into the individual’s condition.
Taking a history
To gain a full picture, the practitioner will ask detailed questions about your complaint and your medical history. He will want to find out whether your problems vary at all according to the time of year and your diet, feelings or emotions.
This can provide a highly sensitive and detailed picture of your general health. The practitioner will be taking a number of different ‘pulses’ on three fingers of each hand. This enables him to gain further information about the quality and functioning of the five major organs. The practitioner will take account of your general health and strength, as well as all of your symptoms, whether they seem to you to be connected or not. This will be the basis for deciding on the best treatment.
Monthly consultations are required to gauge your progress. The prescriptions will be devised accordingly.
Extracted from ‘Making Sense of Traditional Chinese Medicine’ – by S. Au and Y. Li (MIND Publications, 2002)
Commonly asked questions:
Why do I have to come back for consultation on a monthly basis?
TCM takes the view that health is changing all the time. If you responded to our treatment, your condition would improve i.e. your health has now changed for the better. We therefore have to track your changes over the course of treatment. In follow up consultation, we will check you out by asking you questions, by observations such as looking at your tongue, by feeling your pulse in order to find out how you have changed. Based on all this information, a new prescription is given with an aim to improve your health further.
Think of it like a football team. The coach selects 11 players to play each time. They are seldom the same in every game. Players are selected for each game based on who they are playing against. As the opponents change, the composition of the team in each game will be different. Your health is like the opponent. It is evolving and changing all the time. The players are like the herbal composition. They needs to change accordingly to maximise their effectiveness.
It is for this reason that we do not use standard tablets or pills. For treating a changing condition, a fixed single herb or formula is unlikely to be effective over time.