Diagnosis Through Looking





The Chinese medicine practitioner usually starts his diagnosis through looking at the patient's appearance, facial expression, skin colour, gait and demeanour.

A person's complexion and his vital organs share a close relationship. Any changes in the blood and qi circulation in the vitals will be reflected in a person's physical appearance, including observing the person's energy level and the colour of his face and tongue:

Observing the patient's energy level

Observing the tongue

Observing the patient's complexion

Observing the five sense organs and hair


Diagnosis through looking at
the patient's energy level

Observation of the patient's vitality, expression in his eyes, facial expression etc. A person's energy may be classified into the following types:

Vigour and vitality present:
Energetic, lively eyes, a bright countenance, etc. They indicate a mild case of illness where the vital energy has not been diminished. It signals a quick recovery.

Vigour and vitality absent:
Listless, lethargic, dull eyes, absentmindedness, slowed responses etc. The patient is deficient in vital energy and seriously ill.

Diagnosis through looking at
the tongue

Your tongue tells a lot about your metabolism. It's the only internal organ you can see directly. Its color, shape, and mobility indicate vital energy and blood production, which affects your ability to digest food, breathe, eliminate toxins and fight illness.


Diagnosis of Tongue

The tongue may be divided into several parts representing the five vital organs. Any change in the appearance of the tongue will reflect a change in the state of the corresponding organ.

... Read more about The diagnosis of Tongue

Diagnosis through looking at
the patient's complexion

When a person falls ill, his complexion will take on an unusual colour. This is known as the pathogeny of complexion. In all, there are five colours:

  • Blue
    Caused by wind and cold, marked by a sensation of pain.
  • Yellow
    Caused by dampness, marked by deficiency of vital energy and lowering of body resistance.
  • Red
    Caused by heat.
  • White
    Caused by deficiency in vital energy and poor blood circulation.
  • Black
    Caused by cold, pain, fluid retention and blood clots.

Diagnosis through looking at
the Five Sense Organs and Hair

The condition of one's ears, eyes, lips, nose, hair and skin also reflect the body's state of health. Some examples are listed below:

Swollen eyes Usually caused by water retention.
Dry eyes Usually caused by deficiency of blood in the liver.
Swollen and red eyes Usually caused by wind-heat.
Blocked nose; clear mucus Usually caused by wind-cold.
Blocked nose; thick yellow mucus Usually caused by wind-heat.
Dry and thin outer ear Asthenia (abnormal loss of strength) of kidney.
Dark, red lips Caused by cold factors, usually seen in weak lungs.
Pale lips Usually caused by deficiency of blood.
Dark red and dry lips Usually caused by febrile factors, characterised by a high fever.
Dry, cracked lips Insufficient bodily fluids.
Dry skin Insufficient bodily fluids; exhaustion of internal vital essences and blood.
Dry and prickly skin Usually caused by atrophy of the lungs.
Black, thick and lustrous hair Healthy kidneys, sufficient blood and vital energy.
Brown, sparse and dry hair Deficiency of vital essence and blood, usually seen after a major illness.
Dry and brittle hair Heat in the blood and deficiency of yin.
Curly and oily hair Usually caused by heat in the blood.
Greying of hair among youths Caused by worry and anxiety; accumulation of pathogenic heat in blood.
Thinning of hair among youths Asthenia of kidneys or pathogenic heat in blood.
Slow growth of hair; thin and brown hair Usually caused by hereditary factors and a weak constitution.


Return from Diagnosis Through Looking to Chinese Medicine