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TCM Concept of disease


In general, disease is perceived as a disharmony (or imbalance) in the functions or interactions of yin and yang, qi or energy, blood flow, internal organs, meridians etc. and of the interaction between the human body and the environment.

Therapy is based on which “pattern of disharmony” can be identified. Thus, “pattern discrimination” is the most important step in TCM diagnosis. It is also known to be the most difficult aspect of practicing TCM.

In order to determine which pattern is at hand, practitioners will examine things like the color and shape of the tongue, the relative strength of pulse-points, the smell of the breath, the quality of breathing or the sound of the voice.

For example, depending on tongue and pulse conditions, a TCM practitioner might diagnose bleeding from the mouth and nose as: “Liver fire rushes upwards and scorches the Lung, injuring the blood vessels and giving rise to reckless pouring of blood from the mouth and nose.” He might then go on to prescribe treatments designed to clear heat or supplement the Lung.

Disease entities

In TCM, a disease has two aspects: “bìng” and “zhèng”. The former is often translated as “disease entity”, “disease category”, “illness”, or simply “diagnosis”. The latter, and more important one, is usually translated as “pattern” (or sometimes also as “syndrome”, or “symptoms”). For example, the disease entity of a common cold might present with a pattern of wind-cold in one person, and with the pattern of wind-heat in another.

From a scientific point of view, most of the disease entitites (病) listed by TCM constitute mere symptoms. Examples include headache, cough, abdominal pain, constipation etc.

Since therapy will not be chosen according to the disease entity but according to the pattern, two people with the same disease entity but different patterns will receive different therapy. Vice versa, people with similar patterns might receive similar therapy even if their disease entities are different. This is called 异病同治,同病异治 (“different diseases, same treatment; same disease, different treatments”).


In TCM, “pattern” (证) refers to a “pattern of disharmony” or “functional disturbance” within the functional entities the TCM model of the body is composed of. There are disharmony patterns of qi, xuě, the body fluids, the zàng-fǔ, and the meridians.They are ultimately defined by their symptoms and “signs” (i.e., for example, pulse and tongue findings).

In clinical practice, the identified pattern usually involves a combination of affected entities (compare with typical examples of patterns). The concrete pattern identified should account for all the symptoms a person has.

Six Excesses

The Six Excesses (六淫, sometimes also translated as “Pathogenic Factors”, or “Six Pernicious Influences”; with the alternative term of 六邪 – “Six Evils” or “Six Devils”) are allegorical terms used to describe disharmony patterns displaying certain typical symptoms. These symptoms resemble the effects of six climatic factors. In the allegory, these symptoms can occur because one or more of those climatic factors (called 六气 “the six qi”) were able to invade the body surface and to proceed to the interior. This is sometimes used to draw causal relationships (i.e., prior exposure to wind/cold/etc. is identified as the cause of a disease), while other authors explicitly deny a direct cause-effect relationship between weather conditions and disease, pointing out that the Six Excesses are primarily descriptions of a certain combination of symptoms translated into a pattern of disharmony.

It is undisputed, though, that the Six Excesses can manifest inside the body without an external cause. In this case, they might be denoted “internal”, e.g., “internal wind” or “internal fire (or heat)”.

The Six Excesses and their characteristic clinical signs are:

  1. Wind (风): rapid onset of symptoms, wandering location of symptoms, itching, nasal congestion, “floating” pulse; tremor, paralysis, convulsion.
  2. Cold (寒): cold sensations, aversion to cold, relief of symptoms by warmth, watery/clear excreta, severe pain, abdominal pain, contracture/hypertonicity of muscles, (slimy) white tongue fur, “deep”/”hidden” or “string-like” pulse, or slow pulse.
  3. Fire/Heat (火): aversion to heat, high fever, thirst, concentrated urine, red face, red tongue, yellow tongue fur, rapid pulse. (Fire and heat are basically seen to be the same)
  4. Dampness (湿): sensation of heaviness, sensation of fullness, symptoms of Spleen dysfunction, greasy tongue fur, “slippery” pulse.
  5. Dryness (燥): dry cough, dry mouth, dry throat, dry lips, nosebleeds, dry skin, dry stools.
  6. Summerheat (暑): either heat or mixed damp-heat symptoms.

Six-Excesses-patterns can consist of only one or a combination of Excesses (e.g., wind-cold, wind-damp-heat). They can also transform from one into another.

Typical examples of patterns

For each of the functional entities (qi, xuĕ, zàng-fǔ, meridians etc.), typical disharmony patterns are recognized; for example: qi vacuity and qi stagnation in the case of qi;blood vacuity, blood stasis, and blood heat in the case of xuĕ; Spleen qi vacuity, Spleen yang vacuity, Spleen qi vacuity with down-bearing qi, Spleen qi vacuity with lack of blood containment, cold-damp invasion of the Spleen, damp-heat invasion of Spleen and Stomach in case of the Spleen zàng; wind/cold/damp invasion in the case of the meridians.

TCM gives detailed prescriptions of these patterns regarding their typical symptoms, mostly including characteristic tongue and/or pulse findings. For example:

  • “Upflaming Liver fire” (肝火上炎): Headache, red face, reddened eyes, dry mouth, nosebleeds, constipation, dry or hard stools, profuse menstruation, sudden tinnitus or deafness, vomiting of sour or bitter fluids, expectoration of blood, irascibility, impatience; red tongue with dry yellow fur; slippery and string-like pulse.

Eight principles of diagnosis

The process of determining which actual pattern is on hand is called 辩证 (usually translated as “pattern diagnosis”, “pattern identification” or “pattern discrimination”). Generally, the first and most important step in pattern diagnosis is an evaluation of the present signs and symptoms on the basis of the “Eight Principles” (八纲). These eight principles refer to four pairs of fundamental qualities of a disease: exterior/interior, heat/cold, vacuity/repletion, and yin/yang. Out of these, heat/cold and vacuity/repletion have the biggest clinical importance. The yin/yang quality, on the other side, has the smallest importance and is somewhat seen aside from the other three pairs, since it merely presents a general and vague conclusion regarding what other qualities are found. In detail, the Eight Principles refer to the following:

  • Yin and yang are universal aspects all things can be classified under, this includes diseases in general as well as the Eight Principles’ first three couples. For example, cold is identified to be a yin aspect, while heat is attributed to yang. Since descriptions of patterns in terms of yin and yang lack complexity and clinical practicality, though, patterns are usually not labelled this way anymore. Exceptions are vacuity-cold and repletion-heat patterns, who are sometimes referred to as “yin patterns” and “yang patterns” respectively.
  • Exterior (表) refers to a disease manifesting in the superficial layers of the body – skin, hair, flesh, and meridians. It is characterized by aversion to cold and/or wind, headache, muscle ache, mild fever, a “floating” pulse, and a normal tongue appearance.
  • Interior (里) refers to disease manifestation in the zàng-fǔ, or (in a wider sense) to any disease that can not be counted as exterior. There are no generalized characteristic symptoms of interior patterns, since they’ll be determined by the affected zàng or fǔ entity.
  • Cold (寒) is generally characterized by aversion to cold, absence of thirst, and a white tongue fur. More detailed characterization depends on whether cold is coupled with vacuity or repletion
  • Heat (热) is characterized by absence of aversion to cold, a red and painful throat, a dry tongue fur and a rapid and floating pulse, if it falls together with an exterior pattern. In all other cases, symptoms depend on whether heat is coupled with vacuity or repletion.
  • Deficiency (虚), can be further differentiated into deficiency of qi, xuě, yin and yang, with all their respective characteristic symptoms. Yin deficiency can also cause “empty-heat”.
  • Excess (实) generally refers to any disease that can’t be identified as a deficient pattern, and usually indicates the presence of one of the Six Excesses, or a pattern of stagnation (of qi, xuě, etc.). In a concurrent exterior pattern, excess is characterized by the absence of sweating.

After the fundamental nature of a disease in terms of the Eight Principles is determined, the investigation focuses on more specific aspects. By evaluating the present signs and symptoms against the background of typical disharmony patterns of the various entities, evidence is collected whether or how specific entities are affected. This evaluation can be done

  1. in respect of the meridians (经络辩证)
  2. in respect of qi (气血辩证)
  3. in respect of xuè (气血辩证)
  4. in respect of the body fluids (津液辩证)
  5. in respect of the zàng-fǔ (脏腑辩证) – very similar to this, though less specific, is disharmony pattern description in terms of the Five Elements (五行辩证)

There are also three special pattern diagnosis systems used in case of febrile and infectious diseases only “Six Channel system” or “six division pattern” (六经辩证); “Wei Qi Ying Xue system” or “four division pattern” (卫气营血辩证); “San Jiao system” or “three burners pattern” (三焦辩证).

Considerations of disease causes

Although TCM and its concept of disease do not strongly differentiate between cause and effect, pattern discrimination can include considerations regarding the disease cause; this is called 病因辩证 (“disease-cause pattern discrimination”).

There are three fundamental categories of disease causes (三因) recognized:

  1. external causes: these include the Six Excesses and “Pestilential Qi”.
  2. internal causes: the “Seven Affects” (七情 sometimes also translated as “Seven Emotions”) – joy, anger, brooding, sorrow, fear, fright and grief. These are believed to be able to cause damage to the functions of the zàng-fú, especially of the Liver.
  3. non-external-non-internal causes: dietary irregularities (especially: too much raw, cold, spicy, fatty or sweet food; voracious eating; too much alcohol), fatigue, sexual intemperance, trauma, and parasites (虫).

Edited From Wiki

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Yin and yang in TCM


In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (lit. “dark-bright”, “negative-positive”) describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

In Chinese cosmology, the universe creates itself out of a primary chaos of material energy, organized into the cycles of Yin and Yang and formed into objects and lives. Yin is the receptive and Yang the active principle, seen in all forms of change and difference such as the annual cycle (winter and summer), the landscape (north-facing shade and south-facing brightness), sexual coupling (female and male), the formation of both men and women as characters, and sociopolitical history (disorder and order).

There are various dynamics in Chinese cosmology. In the cosmology pertaining to Yin and Yang, the material energy, which this universe has created itself out of, is also referred to as qi. It is believed that the organization of qi in this cosmology of Yin and Yang has formed many things. Included among these forms are humans. Many natural dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang.

This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy and serves as a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine.

The concept of yin and yang is also applicable to the human body; for example, the upper part of the body and the back are assigned to yang, while the lower part of the body are believed to have the yin character.

In traditional Chinese medicine good health is directly related to the balance between yin and yang qualities within oneself. If yin and yang become unbalanced, one of the qualities is considered deficient or has vacuity.

Yin and yang characterization also extends to the various body functions, and – more importantly – to disease symptoms (e.g., cold and heat sensations are assumed to be yin and yang symptoms, respectively). Thus, yin and yang of the body are seen as phenomena whose lack (or over-abundance) comes with characteristic symptom combinations:

  • Yang vacuity (also termed “vacuity-heat”): heat sensations, possible sweating at night, insomnia, dry pharynx, dry mouth, dark urine, and a “fine” and rapid pulse.
  • Yin vacuity (“vacuity-cold”): aversion to cold, cold limbs, bright white complexion, long voidings of clear urine, diarrhea, pale and enlarged tongue, and a slightly weak, slow and fine pulse.

TCM also identifies drugs believed to treat these specific symptom combinations, i.e., to reinforce yin and yang.

By staff editor

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Reasoning of TCM Diagnosis


Diagnosis is a complicated process of logical thinking. Clinical syndromes make their appearance with different symptoms and signs, some apparent, some hidden, some with false implications, some with pathological changes of more than one organs. Some symptoms appear first, some others follow with the developments. Each individual patient has his own different conditions and changes. They are not at all the same as what is written in textbooks, clearly stating what comes first and what comes second, or with a standard format.

A patient is a human, not a machine. It’s not about cutting off the bad things or replacing the bad parts with good ones. TCM diagnosis relies on the doctor’s common sense, his knowledge of the basic theory, his techniques, his personal experience, his ability to make adjustments and assumptions, his way of logic thinking in observing, analyzing, making use of related information. The process of diagnosis also includes some kind of intuition and inspiration.


The analogy or comparison between one thing or another for the purpose of clarification. A doctor can compare the clinical signs of a patient to something he already known in books or experience. For example, if a patient shows signs of a fever, aversion to cold, sweating, and slow floating pulse, we can say that he has caught a cold.


Classification is a process related to categorization, in which symptoms and signs are recognized, differentiated, and understood. For example, if a patient shows signs of bloating, bad appetite, and loose stools, we can say he has a problem with the spleen. If a patient has a chest tightness, asthma, bad sleep, and hurried pulse, we can see he has a problem at the heart.


By taking away other possibilities, or removing the factors that is not closely related, a doctor gets into the real causes of an illness and thus focus on those factor closely related. For example, if a patient comes in with signs of a fever but not feeling cold, and the doctor feels his pulse to be strong, his tongue reddish, and the patient feels thirsty, this means that the patient has an excess of heat in the blood. And if the patient coughs, short of breaths, with yellow and sticky phlegm, we can say there is problem with the lungs. The excess of heat is in his lungs.

Judge by experience or reasoning

When the information collected from symptoms and others is not clear enough for an accurate diagnosis, a TCM doctor shall use his judgement by experience or “similarities”. The guess based on reasoning may not be that much “scientific”, but it is based on analyzing all data collected for the diagnosis. Making some “tries” or assumptions is good for monitoring the developments of an illness, which helps for an accurate conclusion along the process. For example, if a patient feels weak, abdomen tightness, short of breaths, some bloating, sort of carrying weight, bitter in the mouth, a dizzy head, sore at the back, aversion to cold, with a pale face, pulse difficult to feel, etc. He carries too many symptoms that the exact cause and location cannot be determined, a doctor has to use his reasoning with experience.

Focusing on the main symptoms

All health problems must show syndromes. Diagnosis targets the main sufferings. In the process, the focus shall be put on the main symptom or symptoms, or the main sufferings.

These main symptoms normally include headache, abdomen pain, loss of appetite, hard mass felt within the body, bleeding, bad sleep, high pressure, etc.

Because of these main symptoms may be coupled with minor symptoms like fever, sweating, pain in the head, depression, difficulty in vision or hearing, tooth ache, loss of voice, coughing, short of breaths, chest tightness, fastening heart beats, heart pain, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, blood in stools, smelly discharge, etc. These symptoms may only be symptoms, but they reflect the pathological changes within the body. They are the main clues to correct judgement. Diagnosis is a process analyzing these symptoms to determine the causes, the location, and the nature of the disease.

In conclusion, one or two symptoms are set as the main symptoms, and the doctor is going to focus on this.

Analyzing the main symptom

Once the main symptom is determined, we must study it carefully. Its exact location, the timing, seriousness, properties, worsening or improving conditions, urgent or chronic, all these must be analyzed in detail.

For example, when a patient is found to have blood out of the mouth, we should have a careful look? Is not vomiting with blood, or coughing with blood? If it is vomiting with blood, mixed with undigested food, and the blood is red or reddish black, then blood is coming out of the digestive channels, and the location should be the stomach. If a patient is coughing out blood, coupled with phlegm, then the blood comes from the respiratory channels, the location in the lungs. The differentiation can be obtained from past records like stomach ache, disease in the liver or lungs, use of drugs or alcoholic.

The doctor’s inquiries or questions shall be closely related to or focus on the main symptoms, besides others. And his checks either by hand or machines are based on this analysis.

Make a conclusion in diagnosis

An accurate diagnosis is based on overall understanding of the patient’s health conditions. The analysis of syndromes is aimed at making a good conclusion that leads to targeted treatments. This conclusion includes the following:

  • Location of the disease or suffering; in the lung, liver, kidney, or bowel.
  • A statement of the disease properties: cold or heat, excess or deficiency, properties of the qi, blood, body liquids, yin and yang factors, etc.
  • Seriousness of the disease: judgement on the seriousness of the disease, to determine whether an emergency treatment is necessary and predict the developments of the disease.
  • Pathological analysis: To give an overall explanation according to TCM theory on the causes, the seriousness, the stage of development, the location, and other related factors.
  • Give a name to the disease: the determination of a name is important at this step as it helps with follow-up treatments and the use of medicines.

Talk to you next time.


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Four Methods in TCM Diagnosis: Observation, listening, asking and pulse feeling


Observation, listening, asking and pulse feeling are the four basic methods in TCM diagnosis. They play an important role in the determination of disease and follow-up treatments.  An experienced doctor shall fully understand the importance of these four methods by looking closely into every details of the symptoms, the patient’s physical conditions, and other clinical complications.

These four basic methods in diagnosis are not to be applied in fixed order but interchangeably according to factual conditions. Consideration shall be taken seriously when new symptoms are found or changes in the process have be noted. The exact cause or causes of the disease, its location, and reasons in pathology must be clearly analyzed and set in place before any formal treatment is carried out.

I am going to list only the main elements related to each of these four methods here.


Asking is a process when a doctor inquire about the health conditions of a patient with a specific purpose in mind.

In order to achieve this, a quiet and comfortable place is necessary so that the patient (and or someone who is accompanying him) can be at ease.

A doctor must show his care and kindness towards a patient, taking him as his own family member. A doctor must bear a positive attitude when he makes his inquiries. He should not show any pessimistic mood or gesture in front of a patient.

A doctor shall avoid using any technical terms that are difficult to understand. He is not encouraged to give hints to the patient for any information not related to this diagnosis. His questions shall focus on the main symptoms or causes of the possible disease.

General information to get from the patient might include the age, marriage status, kind of employment, family history of a certain disease, or specific aspects of his lifestyle. Questions related to these aspects are only for the purpose of understanding the real cause of the disease. Life habits like smoking or alcoholic play an important role in a patient’s health.

The main focus of asking shall be the most apparent symptoms: for instance, coughing with fever for 3 days, chest pain or heart discomfort. These inquiries help the doctor to understand the location, the seriousness and timing of the disease.

When asking about the present symptoms, a TCM doctor shall clarify whether they are of cold or heat nature, with or without sweats, the location of pain, whether the patient sleeps well or not, his appetite good or not, his stools normal or not, or menstrual discharge normal or not.


Observation is a process when a doctor looks carefully at the appearance of a patient with a view to understand his health conditions.

TCM holds that the human body is a miniature universe in itself, and a patient’s appearance, especially that of his face and tongue, reflects profound conditions of his inner health.

In order to achieve accuracy in observation, a TCM doctor must ensure his patient is exposed to enough natural brightness of sunshine or clinical light. His knowledge of physiology and anatomy helps his understanding of different parts of the body and their pathological conditions.

By an overall observation, a doctor looks at the spirit, color, form, and movements of the patient’s whole body. The spirit of the eyes, the color of the face, whether the patient has a thin/weak body or fat/strong body, whether his hands and feet can move freely, are all important signs to tell his general health conditions.

Partial observation of looking carefully into specific parts of the body gives the doctor a clearer picture of what the patient is suffering at most.

The size of the head, the condition of the hair, the movement of the mouth, the coating of the tongue, the rotten teeth, the color of the skin, the deformation of the limbs, all tell different stories of a patient’s health conditions.

Conditions of the tongue, wet or dry, white or red, smooth or rough, thin or thick coating, ect, give lots of information of a disease. TCM diagnosis pays special attention to the tongue conditions.

Another important factor to observe is the stool. Whether the patient goes to toilet normally, whether there is blood in stool, whether it is water-like or dark in color, they are all important signs of a possible disease.

Listening and Smelling

Listening and smelling is also very important in diagnosis. Through the voice of a patient, his breaths, speeches, coughs, heart beats, vomiting, burping, sighs, sneezing, abdomen sound, etc, or the smell from the patient’s body, discharged waste, a doctor can detect various complications of a patient.

The sound the patient makes is not only the result of movements of the mouth or nose, it is closely related to the functioning of the lungs, heart or kidney.

Under healthy conditions, the sound we make should be natural, clear, smooth, soft, and quick in responses. Young people and elderly make different sounds, people with different emotions of sadness or anger or happiness make different sounds. The voice of a patient, his snoring, sighs, cries of shock, weakness of breaths, is all different from what is natural. It is not difficult to tell the difference by a careful doctor.

A low and weak voice is generally related to a negative or cold nature symptom. A rough and sore voice often tells an excess of heat or humidity in the body that results in difficulty in breathing.

When a patient is in pain somewhere, like a stomachache or toothache, he makes painful voice or murmuring while toughing his belly or teeth.

When a patient is mentally ill, he speaks without reasoning, or lack of logic. Short of breaths can be a serious problem for the elderly.

Coughing can tell different stories with or without sound, with or without phlegm, dry or sticky phlegm.

Stronger heart beats may be the result of an excess of heat in the liver or high blood pressure; weaker beats my be the result of deficiency of the heart or lung functions.

Water sound in the belly may be the symptoms of cold nature deficiency of the stomach, spleen or intestines. Bowel gas may tell a different story of the same organs.

As to smells of the body, or part of the body, like bad smell of breaths, of sweats, of urine, of discharged waste, or the smell of vomiting, they are signs of different diseases in the liver, stomach, bowel or other digestive organs.

Pulse Feeling

Pulse feeling has a long history in China. Ancient records over 3000 years in the Book of History show some cases of diagnosis by pulse feeling. One of the most famous physicians Li Shizhen recorded 27 kinds of pulses, each relates to different syndromes of patients.

Pulse feeling is based on a philosophy with detailed and careful techniques of diagnosis. The locations of pulse points and their relation to different energy channels reflect the fundamental theory of TCM.

Our heart beats is closely related to pulse movements. Our qi or energy flow and blood flow is moved about the body along with the pulse channels. When the pulses are strong, the qi and blood flow are pushed in a positive way; otherwise, weaker pulses relates to weaker movement of the energy or blood flow.

As our qi and blood flows all across the body, into and out of different organs, detecting the pulse movements is a way to understand the functioning of different organs.

In pulse feeling, the location (most commonly the wrist), timing(morning or afternoon), sex and ages, build of a patient, are all factors for consideration.

Pulse feeling requires an exercise, some time of professional training and experience to put the techniques to test. The study of basic TCM theories helps improve the practice and is necessary for all practitioners to become experts in the job.

Non TCM practitioners are encouraged to learn this technique as well, for the benefits of themselves and the patients.

Talk to you next time.



Six External Factors That Cause Diseases -01


The six factors here refer to wind, cold, summer heat, humidity, dryness and fire. TCM calls them the “six evils” because they are the main causes of all diseases. It is the excess of these factors that causes the human organs to malfunction. Under normal conditions, they are just six manifestations of nature as a result of weather changes. As the seasons change, our human body functions adjudge themselves to adapt to those changes. When our body is not strong enough to defend itself from the intervention of these forces, we become ill. Thus these six factors are called the devils.

From this reasoning, we can see that diseases caused by the six factors are seasonal. In summer, we may become ill because of heat; in winter, we may become ill by feeling cold. Because the weather changes a lot, even during one season, our bodies are exposed to various factors that cause different symptoms. If a person is weak in nature, and likes cold drinks in hot summer, he may also suffer from cold disease.

Winter is a dry season and people are easy to get sick as a result of dryness with heat in warmer days or dryness with cold in cooler days.

Diseases caused by the six factors can be of single factor or multiple factors. In most cases, they are caused by multiple factors: wind, cold and humidity working together to cause joint pain or paralysis.

After the six evils enter the human body, they transform under certain conditions. Cold can be transformed into heat when it confronts with the inner defense; heat can also be transformed into dryness when it causes the body liquid to evaporate.

In diagnosis, we must look into different symptoms and how they have been affected by the six factors. We talk about them one by one.


Wind is the worst of all six evils, as it is around all four seasons. When our body is attacked, wind is generally the number one force. Other evils follow the wind in its attack and often causes colds, fever, flu or arthritis. Attack by wind is generally the starting point of a disease.

Wind is light and flows upwards. It normally attacks our skin and upper part of the body; clinical symptoms are headache, cold, measles, etc.

Wind moves about and makes quick shifts. Thus it often carries the symptom of pain up and down the muscle and joints. Thus a patient may have cramps of the limbs, pain in shoulders or joint pain.

1, Cold with wind

Symptoms: feeling cold, fever, no sweat, running nose, cough, little phlegm. Coating on the tongue looks white but wet. The pulse feels tight.

Pathology: Exterior parts of the body are under attack by cod wind; lung defense is not strong enough to confront the attack.

  1. Heat with wind

Symptoms: Fever, feeling a bit cold, little sweat or no sweat, headache, cough, sticky or yellow phlegm, running nose with sticky liquid, sore throat, thirsty. Thin coating of tongue, red at the edge. Pulse feels floating.

Pathology: Skin attacked by wind with heat; The lungs feels difficult to clear the waste gas.

3, Wind attacks the main and collateral channels

Symptoms: Pain moving about the joints; joints stretch with difficulty; pain in shoulders, deforming of mouth and eyes; cramps of limbs; teeth tightened. Thin and white coating of tongue; Pulse feeling floating and slippery.

Pathology: The wind evil enters the energy channels and blocks the flow of energy.


Cold is the main air of winter and the cause of many diseases in that season.

Cold is an evil force, a negative factor that can easily damage the positive energy flow. If it attacks the skin or exterior parts of the body, it cause typhoid fever. If it affects the interior organs, the problem will get more serious.

Cold confines and causes things stuck. When it enters the energy channels, it causes the muscles to cramp or veins to be stagnant. Thus the body parts shall have difficulty in stretching. Joint pain or paralysis is a result of that. Our blood flows in warm temperature. When attacked by cold, the blood condenses, thus causes a blockage. Pain is often the result of energy block.

1, Cold attacks the exterior

Symptoms: feeling cold, fever, no sweat, headache, pain in shoulder, muscle pain or joint pain, moving pain (relief when warm), difficulty in stretching. Thin and white coating of tongue, pulse feeling shallow but tight.

Pathology: Cold damages the exterior, lung respiration is confined.

2, Cold attacks the interior

Symptoms: feeling extremely cold and shivering, partly paralyzed, stomach pain. Face looks pale white; difficult to move about; feels fainted; breathing slows; air from mouth and nose becomes cold. White and smoothie coating of tongue; pulse weak.

Pathology: Cold evil prevails, and damages the positive energy flow.

Summer Heat

The air of summer is hot, as a result of heat from sunshine. Summer heat as an evil as it also make people ill. Summer heat is characteristic of high temperature easy to spread away. It causes an excess of the positive factors within the body and does harm to exterior and internal organs by sweating or drying up the body liquids.

The air of summer is easy to reach the heart and when attacked by summer heat, our heart is disturbed, causing symptoms like high fever, faintness, or unconsciousness.

Summer heat is usually mixed with humidity. On hot summer days, sunshine is strong, the earth is wet, air evaporating upwards. The transpiration of heat and humidity causes people sick.

1, Heat stroke

Symptoms: headache and dizziness, chest distress, feeling like vomiting, feeling hot and thirsty, short of breaths, weakness, red and dry skin, little sweat, short and small amount of urine in yellow, cramps, etc. Dry tongue, pulse weak.

Pathology: Summer heat attacks the heart; negative factor of energy flow is damaged.

2, Summer heat

Symptoms: fever, skin feeling hot, little sweat, or feeling hotter in the afternoon, thirsty, bad appetite, weakness. Reddish tongue, pulse weak.

Pathology: Summer heat does harm to body liquids.

3, Summer humidity

Symptoms: Body feels minor hot, aversion to wind, little sweat, chest distress, floating abdomen, feeling like vomiting, mouth feeling bitter or mild, limbs feeling sour and tired, stool thin or water-like. Sticky coating of tongue, pulse feeling slippery.

Pathology: Summer heat with humidity; skin and muscle confined.


Air with humidity is the main character of the time of late summer and early autumn. We are easy to get sick because of humidity by wet weather, rain, smog, or working long hours in water.

Humidity is a evil factor as it is sticky and not easy to get rid of. Diseases caused by humidity usually last long and hard to cure.

Humidity is heavy, going downwards. When it attacks our body, it blocks our energy flow. At the top, we feel weight in the head; in the middle, we feel chest distressed and bad appetite; at the lower part, we feel weak with our hands and feet. The evil of humidity does harm to our positive factors, causing imbalance in evaporation. Our face will look dirty, stool sticky with uneasiness, urine not clear, virginal discharge sticky, coating of tongue dirty, feet smelling bad.

As humidity is easy to go with wind, it confines our external defense, thus causing pain or heaviness of limbs. When it attacks our skin, it causes various skin diseases.

1, Humidity confines the external defense

Symptoms: body feeling a bit hot, aversion to cold, some sweat and sticky, headache with weight, sore and pain in limbs. Possible chest distressed, uneasiness of abdomen, sticky mouth, water-like stool, pale face. White coating of tongue, pulse slippery.

Pathology: Humidity attacks the skin; exterior defense collapses.

2, Humidity affects the main and collateral channels

Symptoms: sore and pain in joints, moving pain, or swollen knee-joint, difficulty in stretching, swelling in feet. White coating of tongue, pulse slow.

3, Humidity spread all over

Symptoms: Scabies, herpes,wet smell in feet, scratchiness, yellow water running, urine not clear, smelly virginal discharge. Yellow sticky coating of tongue, pulse slippery.

Pathology: Evil of humidity spread all over the body skin


Autumn air is dry, with lower humidity. The infection may be warm or cool in nature. In early autumn, some summer heat still remains and dryness is coupled with heat; in deep autumn, cold air is coming, so dryness is coupled with cold. Symptoms are different under different weather conditions.

1, Dryness with heat

Symptoms: headache, fever, slightly aversion to wind and cold, cough with little phlegm, or coughing with blood, thirsty, dry tongue, sore throat, upset, dry stool. Red tongue with thin coating, pulse weak.

Pathology: Evil of dryness attacks the lungs; body liquids damaged.

2, Dryness with cold

Symptoms: headache, nasal congestion, aversion to cold, fever, no sweat, dry tongue and lip, thin phlegm. Dry tongue with thin coating, Pulse shallow and floating.

Pathology: Cold dryness confines the exterior, affecting respiration of lungs.


Fire-infected diseases are caused directly by excess of warmth or heat. Fire is stronger than warmth and heat, but with the same qualities. Wind, cold, summer heat, humidity and dryness can all be transformed into “fire”.

Fire is evil of the positive factor. When it attacks, disease comes quick. It develops or changes fast, thus the condition of disease is often quite serious. Heat and concrete symptoms are apparent. A patient feels high fever with reddish face, thirsty, fretful, and sleep difficulty.

Fire burns the liver and is easy to cause liquid damage there. When liver wind is motivated, it is hot and moving about. Symptoms like high temperature, cramps, and pain in shoulders can be seen.

Fire burns the blood channels and is easy to cause bleeding.

When fire attacks the heart, it causes mental problems, and mania.

Other symptoms include rough breaths, bad smell in mouth, constipation, or red spots,difficulty with vision, yellow tongue with thorns. The Pulse feels fast and slippery.

These are the six external factors of wind, cold, heat, humidity, dryness and fire.

As a matter of fact, these six factors can also start from inside.

Inner wind relates to the liver and it’s called “liver wind is activated from within the liver.” The result is an excess of positive factors in the liver.

Inner cold relates directly to the kidney as it is the result of deficiency of the kidney’s yang (positive) factors.

Inner heat or fire relates to the heart and stomach. When the heart has a excess of heat, it is the result of depression (or seven emotions of joy, anger, worry, sorrow, sadness, hatred); uneasiness of mind and sleep problems are common. Heat in the stomach is often the result of eating too much fats or not-clean food.

Inner humidity relates closely to the spleen. It’s also the result of foods and drinks.

Inner dryness relates to body liquids; lack of nourishment by liquids brings about problems to mainly the liver, kidney, lungs and the stomach.

Thus diagnosis shall take into consideration of evil attacks from both interior and exterior factors.

Talk to you next time.


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TCM Treatment of Internal Diseases


Symptoms & disease

TCM can be difficult for western researchers to study because its treatments are often complex and are based on ideas very different from those of modern Western medicine.

It is better to use TCM herbal remedies under the supervision of your health care provider or a professional trained in herbal medicine than to try to treat yourself.

Here I am going to talk about the basic principles in treatment of internal diseases in general first before I go into specific diseases:

Firstly, I need to stress that TCM takes great emphasis of the human body as one systematic universe in which different organs work to support each other to maintain health.

Information of a patient is collected by four basic examinations: observation, listening, asking and pulse-feeling. A diagnosis with pathological methods with these four basic examinations is fundamental in determining the nature of the disease and its symptoms. And treatment is based on a complete understanding of these factors.

To put in simple, in treatment, a TCM doctor not only relies on the symptoms to make his judgment, he shall also take into consideration the patient’s overall conditions, including family history, lifestyle and living environment.

Secondly, a TCM doctor shall look into the clinical features of a disease in general as well as specific pathological characteristics. He should understand the development of disease and possible changes in each individual patient.

When it comes to internal diseases, there are two main categories of causes: disease by weather change and disease by internal injuries. Weather change is taken as external causes.

By external causes, we refer to yin and yang, cold or hot, negative or positive, excess or deficiency. We look at how development of the disease breaks into the outer defense by qi, how it affects the body liquids and blood. A diagnosis by looking at the Triple Warmers is also included. We will talk about the Triple Warmers in future.

By internal causes, we look at how an internal injury affects the functions of the lungs to regulate the energy flow, how it affects the functions of the spleen and stomach in digestion, how it affects the functions of the heart in regulating the blood, how it affects the liver in negative terms, how it affects the kidney with its regenerating functions, etc.

Thirdly, a TCM doctor differentiates the disease from symptoms. A disease can have many symptoms. Different diseases may have similar symptoms. Like catching a cold, a patient may have been affected by winter cold or summer heat and thus shows different symptoms. For a cold caused by winter cold, a patient may show symptoms of excess or symptoms of deficiency because of a strong or weak nature of the patient.

The diagnosis of a disease and analysis of its symptoms support each other. A TCM doctor may have an understanding of the symptoms first, before working to determine which disease the patient may have carried. He may check the general symptoms of a disease first, then work to see if the patient’s symptoms feed into that category.

In TCM, some of the diseases are named on the basis of main symptoms, and this reflects the guiding principle of “same disease with different treatments” and “different diseases with same treatment”.

Some symptoms are treated the same in TCM as in western medicine, like cough. Coughing is a main symptom in colds, asthma, and tuberculosis. Like stomach ache, that is the main symptom in digestive ulcer, gastritis, and stomach cramps. The main symptoms are the focus of a disease. Even though we cannot determine what disease the patient may have carried, we can still work out a solution to tackle the main symptoms first.

The determination of disease is necessary on the basis of symptoms, because it helps a doctor’s understanding of the patient’s conditions in a broader picture. It helps a doctor to foresee the development of the disease and its possible cure or no cure. Symptoms are not equal to disease. For instance, stomach ache is seen in digestive ulcer, it is also seen in gastritis. But digestive ulcer may also cause vomiting or bleeding.

Guiding Principles in Treatment

  • Regulate overall balance

The human body has five main organs that form different systems, like respiratory system, digestive system, urinary system, or reproductive system, etc. They all work together to form a greater system. These systems, large or small, need a harmony to stay healthy, the balance of yin and yang.

TCM use therapies to regulate the yin and yang, striving for a balance between them. When there is an excess in either the yin or yang factor, we take the extra amount away. When there is a deficiency, or something that is not enough, we add things to increase the amount.

Measures for regulation must stop once a balance has been obtained. For example, when we use cold herbs to clear away the heat, be cautious not to overdo it and cause damage to the yin factor. And when we regulate the spleen with dry herbs, remember not to harm the stomach that needs a moisture environment.

  • Study symptoms and their clinical features

Symptoms must be carefully studied together with clinical developments. Each disease has its pathological characteristics and targeted therapies. Different symptoms require different methods of treatment. For example headache as a symptom, it may be caused by heat wind or cold wind, by internal injury that causes the liver heat, congestion of phlegm, stagnation of blood, etc. The root causes need to be carefully studied.

  • Decide what is urgent and what is not

When a patient is bleeding, he may have suffered from an external injury or internal disease. The urgent thing is to stop the bleeding, and find out the root causes later. For an urgency, we deal with the apparent symptoms first; for a complete cure, we are tackling the disease and its root causes.

For a patient with floating with a swollen abdomen and difficulty with breathing, we try to take away excess liquid inside his body first; later we work to nourish his spleen and liver to restore his digestive system.

Sometimes we need to deal with the urgent and the not-urgent at the same time. For example “edema”, the abnormal accumulation of fluid in certain tissues within the body, which causes coughing, fullness in chest, kidney pain or urinal problem, we shall deal with the kidney deficiency and how the lungs have been infected with windy cold.

  • Monitor the development of a disease

It is important to monitor the progress of a disease, the stages of development and how different symptoms occur as a result of clinical treatment.

For internal disease, strong formulas of herbs may not be good at the early stage. But as the disease is getting worse, strong formulas are necessary, but they should be used with a lot of attention.

  • Apply appropriate therapies to different conditions

The occurrence of disease is affected by many conditions: weather changes, living environment, sex and age of the patient, and many others. Acupuncture, cupping, massage, and herbal formulas are used differently for different conditions.

  • Prescribe the best formula for the symptoms

Always work for the best solution to health problem. A TCM doctor must be open-minded and always open to better options. Better options often mean learning from experience or other doctors, including western medicine.

  • Take prevention measures

Precaution not only means keeping a healthy lifestyle and improves living standards to prevent the occurrence of disease. It also means measures taken to prevent minor illness developing into severe disease.

In TCM practice, we have a saying that “when you see a disease start in the liver, knowing that it may spread to the spleen, you shall build a defense at the spleen first.” This is precaution.

  • Consider the importance of care after recovery

Even when a patient recovers from a disease, the problem may return in few months or in two years. So after-care is very important to prevent the return.

This after-care is both the responsibility of a doctor as well as the patient himself. The doctor shall warm the patient of ignorance and advise him of taking medicine regularly. The patient or his family members should be taught to monitor his own health, detecting symptoms earlier by past experience.

We will talk about individual disease next time.

See you later.


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Diagnosis of Cancer -4


We now continue with the diagnosis of colorectal cancer.

Known also as bowel cancer or colon cancer, it is the development of cancer from the colon (the large bowel)  or rectum (parts of the large intestine).

Globally more than 1 million people get colon cancer every year. It is more common in developed countries. It is the second highest cause of cancer occurrence and death for men and women in the United States combined. An estimated 141,210 cases were diagnosed in 2011. In the UK about 41,000 people a year get colon cancer making it the fourth most common type.

Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world. Bowel cancer affects men and women, young and old. It is one of the top five causes of premature death among Australians aged 45-74 and is the seventh leading cause of death among those aged 25-44. One in 19 men and one in 28 women will develop colon cancer before the age of 75.

Signs and symptoms may include blood in the stool, a change in bowel movements, weight loss, and feeling tired all the time.

Cancer occurring in the left side of the colon generally causes constipation alternating with diarrhoea, abdominal pain and obstructive symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.

Right-sided colon produces vague, abdominal aching, chronic blood loss, weakness, weight loss and/or an abdominal mass.

Patients with the cancer may also present with a rectal fullness, urgency, or bleeding, and cramping rectal pain.

Colon cancer can affect any part of the large bowel (colon) or rectum.During the early stages of bowel cancer, patients may have no symptoms. As a cancerous tumour grows, it can narrow and block the bowel. Minor changes in bowel movements, with or without rectal bleeding are also seen, but they are often ignored or attributed to haemorrhoids. That is why early preventive screening is so important.

Mostly colon cancer is due to old age and lifestyle factors including diet, obesity, smoking, being overweight and lack of physical activity. Dietary factors that increase the risk include red (especially when charred) and processed meat (smoked, cured, salted or preserved) as well as alcohol. Another risk factor is inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

If a patient experiences some of the above symptoms for over two weeks, he shall consult a doctor.

Bowel cancer may be diagnosed by obtaining a sample of the colon during a  colonoscopy.

A colonoscopy is a detailed examination which looks at the lining of the entire large bowel.

During colonoscopy, small polyps may be removed if found.

Sometimes the first sign of bowel cancer is sudden blockage of the bowel. When this happens, bowel cancer is diagnosed by computed tomography (CT scan) and an emergency operation. Imaging tests such as PET and MRI may also be used in certain cases.

Cancer that is confined within the wall of the colon may be curable with surgery while cancer that has spread widely are usually not curable.

The good news is that, in Australia, bowel problems can be successfully treated in 90% of cases, if detected early.

In diagnosis, we shall differentiate colon cancer with dysentery, which also shows symptoms of diarrhea with blood, urgency, abdominal pain, and an inflammatory disorder of the colon. Dysentery is an infectious disease which comes acutely, starting with fever, vomiting, then diarrhea, urgency, and stool with blood.

Symptoms normally present themselves after one to three days, and are usually no longer present after a week. The frequency of urges to defecate, the large volume of liquid feces passed, and the presence of mucus, pus, and blood depends on the pathogen causing the disease.

Many of the symptoms of colorectal cancer can also be caused by something that isn’t cancer, such as infection, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease.

The signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids depend on the type present. Internal hemorrhoids often result in painless, bright red rectal bleeding when defecating. External hemorrhoids often result in pain and swelling in the area of the anus. If bleeding occurs it is usually darker. This may include constipation, diarrhea and sitting on the toilet for a long time. Symptoms frequently get better after a few days. Colonoscopy is reasonable to confirm the diagnosis and rule out more serious causes.

In most cases, people who have the above symptoms do not have cancer. Still, if you have any of these problems, it is a sign that you should go to the doctor so the cause can be found and treated, if needed:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Dark stools, or blood in the stool
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Current dietary recommendations to prevent these problems include increasing the consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and reducing the intake of red meat and processed meats. Higher physical activity is also recommended.

As surgery techniques improve, recurrence rates are decreasing; however, there is a chance that the cancer can return.

Following initial treatment, 30-50% of bowel cancer patients in remission develop recurrence, typically within the first 2 – 3 years. If it does, it may or may not cause symptoms.

So increasing surveillance, engaging in physical activity, consuming a diet high in fiber, and reducing smoking and alcohol consumption decrease the risk.

In Australia, The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is sending out free bowel cancer screening tests to all Australians aged 50–74. The government has suggested the following for prevention: quit smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, maintain a healthy body weight, be active and sit less, and eat a healthy diet.

Experience in Australia shall be shared to people across the world.

Talk to you next time.


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Diagnosis of Cancer -3


Today we are going to talk about the diagnosis of liver cancer.

The liver is the largest organ in the body, sits on the right side of the abdomen, next to the stomach. It manufactures bile and blood proteins, filters the blood, rids the body of harmful chemicals, and has other vital functions.

Liver cancer can either be primary or metastatic. Primary liver cancer is when a malignant tumour starts in the liver. Cancer which has spread from elsewhere to the liver, known as liver metastasis, is more common.

It is reported that primary liver cancer is globally the sixth most frequent cancer and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Diagnosis is most frequent among those 55 to 65 years old. Five-year survival rates are 18% in the United States.

China records show that every year more than 110,000 people died of liver cancer, accounting for over 45% of the world’s total. China has also 50% of HCC cases (Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of primary liver cancer in adults). More than 80% of total cases in sub-Saharan Africa or in East-Asia are due to hepatitis B virus.

Symptoms of liver cancer may include a lump or pain in the right side below the rib cage, swelling of the abdomen, yellowish skin, easy bruising, weight loss, and weakness. Other related symptoms are loss of appetite, pain in the upper back (around the right shoulder blade), unusual tiredness, or a feeling of discomfort on the upper right side of the abdomen. The signs and symptoms depend on what type of cancer is present.

Viral infection with either hepatitis C virus (HCV) or Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the chief cause of liver cancer in the world today. The most common way that hepatitis B is spread is during birth, from mother to baby.

If liver cancer is suspected, the diagnosis may be supported by physical examination, blood tests, scanning/imaging of the liver and nearby organs, and imaging with confirmation by tissue biopsy.

For HCC these methods include sonography (ultrasound), computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). If the cause of bile duct obstruction is suspected to be malignant, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), ultrasound, CT, MRI and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) are used.

Treatment options may include surgery, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy. In certain cases ablation therapy, embolization therapy, or liver transplantation may be used. Until today few of these options have proved to be effective in term of complete cure.

A more suggested way is of cause by early prevention. To reduce the spread of hepatitis B and the incidence of primary liver cancer, all at-risk people should be vaccinated against the virus.

When it comes to diagnosis, we differentiate the signs of liver cancer from those of jaundice. The word jaundice is from the French jaunisse, meaning “yellow disease”.It is a yellowish or greenish pigmentation of the skin and whites of the eyes due to high bilirubin levels. Urine is dark in colour.

Jaundice itself is generally not considered a disease, but rather a sign of one of many possible underlying pathological processes in blood. Jaundice in babies occurs in over half in the first week following birth and in most cases is not a problem.

Most patients presenting with jaundice will have various predictable patterns of liver panel abnormalities, though significant variation does exist.

Swelling of the abdomen, or ascites, may be taken as a sign of liver cancer. That is the abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Symptoms may include increased abdominal size, increased weight, abdominal discomfort, and shortness of breath.

In the developed world, the most common cause is liver cirrhosis. Treatment often involves returning to a more healthier lifestyle, like a low salt diet.

If liver cancer is detected early, surgical removal is a suggested option, but unfortunately when most patients are diagnosed with the problem, it is already at a late stage and the time for surgery has passed. Chemotherapy has widely be adopted in modern western medicine, but side effects are apparent, and the treatment is not at all satisfactory.

We shall look into TCM treatments in later chapters.

Talk to you about diagnosis of bowel cancer next time.


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Diagnosis of Cancer -2


Today we talk about the diagnosis of lung cancer.

Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer. It is a malignant tumour that grows in an uncontrolled way in one or both of the lungs. This growth can spread beyond the lung by the process of metastasis into nearby tissue or other parts of the body.

The most common symptoms are coughing (including coughing up blood), weight loss, shortness of breath, and chest pains. Other systemic symptoms include weakness, fever, or clubbing of the fingernails.

Most cases are not curable. Worldwide in 2012, lung cancer occurred in 1.8 million people and resulted in 1.6 million deaths.This makes it the most common cause of cancer-related death in men and second most common in women after breast cancer. The most common age at diagnosis is 70 years. Overall, 17.4% of people in the United States diagnosed with lung cancer survive five years after the diagnosis, while outcomes on average are worse in the developing world.

The population segment that is most likely to develop lung cancer is people aged over 50 who have a history of smoking. In China, the age for occurrence sets at over 40.

Tobacco smoking is by far the main contributor to lung cancer. The inhalation of smoke from another’s smoking is a cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.

Asbestos can cause a variety of lung diseases such as lung cancer. Many houses built before 1990 contain asbestos cement materials, especially in the eaves, internal and external wall cladding, ceilings and fences.

Air pollution affects about 2.4 billion people worldwide, and it is believed to result in 1.5% of lung cancer deaths.

Performing a chest radiograph is one of the first investigative steps if a person reports symptoms that may suggest lung cancer.

CT imaging is typically used to provide more information about the type and extent of disease. But CT imaging should not be used for longer or more frequently than indicated, as the extended surveillance exposes people to increased radiation.

We shall differentiate lung cancer with tuberculosis (TB). The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.

TB is an infectious disease,spread through the air when a patient cough, spit, speak, or sneeze. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body.

TB is the number one cause of death from an infectious disease. The most important risk factor globally is HIV; 13% of all people with TB are infected by the virus, closely linked to poverty with overcrowding and malnutrition. Diagnosis of latent TB relies on the tuberculin skin test (TST) or blood tests.

We find similar symptoms of dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing in pneumonia. Pneumonia is usually caused by infection with viruses or bacteria. Chest X-ray, blood tests, and culture of the sputum may help confirm the diagnosis.

Another similar disease we need to look at is bronchiectasis. It is a disease in which there is permanent enlargement of parts of the airways of the lung. Symptoms typically include a chronic cough with mucus production. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing up blood, and chest pain. Bronchiectasis is not as common and the diagnosis is suspected based on a person’s symptoms and confirmed using computed tomography.

Good news in diagnosis, modern technology of using Chest X-ray, CT, and cexfoliative cell examination of sputum has helped with determination of the early stages of lung cancer.

When a patient with possible lung cancer shows worsening signs of high heat and coughing, more detailed enquiry into his causes including family history is necessary, as the process can be both emotionally and practically challenging.

Keeping a healthy lifestyle is critical to prevent causing damage to your lungs. Don’t take tobacco smoking as a fashionable lifestyle. You are not just killing yourself. No one wants to be your passive smokers.

Talk to you next time.


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Diagnosis of Cancer -1


Different kinds of cancer start in different locations of the human body: the brain, the lung, the bowel/intestine, the kidney, the bladder, etc.

The liver’s main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. The spleen plays multiple supporting roles in the body. It acts as a filter for blood as part of the immune system. The kidneys perform the essential function of removing waste products from the blood and regulating the water fluid levels.That’s what we learn from western medicine.

In TCM, we define the functions of these organs differently: the liver regulates the pathways; the spleen is the source of qi (energy flow) and blood generation; the kidney manages the marrow,the storage of sex liquids (sperms and eggs). The above cancer types relate closely to the functions of liver, spleen and kidney.

We talk about the diagnosis separately.

Brain Cancer

A brain tumor occurs when abnormal cells form within the brain. The main clinical signs are headache, vomiting, problem with vision, difficulty in walking and speaking, mental change, etc.

People aged 20-40 have higher incidence rates of brain tumor. In the US, about 2,000 children and adolescents younger than 20 years of age are diagnosed with malignant brain tumors each year.

In western medicine, the cause of most brain tumors is unknown.

TCM diagnosis of brain cancer is based on the following factors:

  1. A patient has the symptoms of headache, vomiting, problem with vision, etc.
  2. The brain is divided into 4 lobes and each lobe or area has its own function. A tumor in any of these lobes may affect the area’s performance. The location of the tumor is often linked to the symptoms experienced but each person may experience something different.

The following locations are from Wikipedia:

– Frontal lobe: Tumors may contribute to poor reasoning, inappropriate social behavior, personality changes, poor planning, lower inhibition, and decreased production of speech.

– Temporal lobe: Tumors in this lobe may contribute to poor memory, loss of hearing, difficulty in language comprehension.

– Parietal lobe: Tumors here may result in poor interpretation of languages, decreased sense of touch and pain, and poor spatial and visual perception.

– Occipital lobe: Damage to this lobe may result in poor or loss of vision.

– Cerebellum: Tumors in this area may cause poor balance, muscle movement, and posture.

–  Brain stem: Tumors on this can affect blood pressure, swallowing, and heartbeat.

As the brain tumor may cause high blood pressure and paralysis of part of the body, we need to differentiate it with Cerebrovascular disease, a variety of medical conditions that affect the blood vessels of the brain and the cerebral circulation.

Cerebrovascular disease normally occurs in the elderly, with history of hypertension and atherosclerosis, the thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries, occurring typically in old age. The patient may have sudden unconsciousness, besides the occurrence of high blood pressure and paralysis.

A patient with brain cancer may have the symptoms of epilepsy or neurological disorders such as headache, vomiting, vision problem and mental disorder, difficulty with movement and sensation. With brain cancer, these symptoms persist. In epilepsy, the symptoms are not apparent after the occurrence.

CT or MRI screening/imaging can help to detect the difference and is currently the main way of diagnosis.

This is about brain cancer. We shall continue with Lung Cancer next time.

Talk to you later.


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