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While the west clamors for more and more technological (read: expensive) diagnostic methods, in TCM we continue to use ancient external means of diagnosis to a great degree of proficiency. However, even in Chinese Medicine, techniques are not without major deterioration over the centuries.

For example, it is not merely the feel of the pulse – its rate, volume, quality, and force – that are part of pulse diagnosis, but even its Qi. If the practitioner cannot feel the Qi, they cannot in the end know exactly where the disease is. What do I mean by feeling the Qi? I don’t mean empty or full. Though that is part of it. I mean literally there is movement in the pulse and it comes out of the patient, enters the nerves of the doctor to be cognized, and occasionally even traverses their body till they somatically and viscerally know where the problem lies. I don’t mean to brag, but I have 100% prediction rate of baby’s sex because I use my kidneys to tell the sex.

Some things I have felt in the pulse which are not taught in TCM school:

1) “worms” usually representing some kind of unhealthy energy that is “feeding” on the person’s energy level, manifesting usually as anxiety/depression and lethargy.

2) beans, rocks, and crystals, which move upon palpation. Could be parasites or more likely blood stagnation.

3) vibrating or more accurately to say buzzing like electricity in a pulse, usually the first position. This indicates long-trapped, often ignored anxieties.

4) pin-holes, which represent gui (ghost) or parasitic entities that leech the host body of energy; also if a person has a strong “Qi vampire” in the form of a friend or spouse, this can happen.


But these are no secrets. Any Qigong or tuina practitioner can with some focus find these. Instead, let’s talk about some major things that TCM doctors (and western doctors) are missing…

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It seems safe to say that a doctor should look at their patient’s skin. But I don’t mean just glance over it, but really study it. What color is it, and over what regions? Blood stagnations? Edema? Moles/nevi and where? Possible tumors? Skin tags and liver spots? What color are these? Lines, creeks, rivers, and hollows? What is missing? What is building up in excess? Redness? Flaking? Salt-beds? Lesions? Circulation issues? Sagging faces? Lines and other facial changes? Ear changes?

You get the point. There are so many, many things that our largest organ (by area) can tell us. And yet we burn it, ignore it, deplete it, cover it with toxins (so that it cannot detoxify our body), leave it exposed, etc… And the common doctor, TCM or otherwise, does not look at it.

Here’s the kicker: to really look at the skin, you have to touch it! The Qi exchange between skin membranes is a powerful diagnostic tool. Are they cold or warm? Where is the temperature trapped? Are they excess or deficient? Do they prefer the warm hands or fear pressure? Does the skin burn?

In short, any doctor worth their pay will keep an eye on your skin for you – and you yourself can use your own skin to keep track of what is happening in your body!

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Finger and toenails are not our favorite subjects. We especially fear toenails. Unfortunately, these are vital aspects of diagnosis that a person can use long, long before they reach a real problem. The simple fact is that all the 12 Primary Channels which carry Qi, Essence, and Blood to and from each organ, and protect the organs and sense-organs and nerves start or end under the nails. The “well points” near to the nails are the first or last points on all the channels. What does this mean? It means that changes in the nails are an excellent indication of the state of Qi flow in the organs. Let’s use myself as an example: I have a left thumb which grows the right most part of the nail slower than the rest of the nails on my left hand. I also have ridges on it, and a groove in my fore-fingernail. What does this mean? Lung deficiency and stress related Metal Qi deficiency. On my feet I have bilateral inner toe yellowing, drying, and the nail grows shorter on the inside. Plus my 2nd toenail grows slower on the ST45 side. What does this mean? Earth Qi deficiency from long term damp-heat. I also note that my outer UB65 nail has always grown weakly. What does this mean? It could be shoe shape, or it could be bladder deficiency. Considering the low back pain and calf tension on UB58, it is safe to say that the bladder channel is weak, and this spells trouble for the sacro-illiac joint.

In general with regard to fingers, toes, and nails: growths indicate immune system deficiency in that channel… whole nail mold indicates systemic infection of the Element (big toe = liver and gallbladder). Meanwhile, growths of skin or flesh indicate disharmony of Qi and blood meaning that nothing is regulating cell growth. And deviations of joints indicate organ Qi deficiency.

If you combine skin and nail diagnosis, for something like arthritis or Raynaud’s you get a very clear picture of what is happening inside your body (or the patient’s)

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The eyes are not just windows to the soul: they are windows to everything. All of the following are qualities of the eyes to look for:

1) luster – aka the projection of Shen/spirit from the heart, indicating happiness

2) sclera color – this will tell you if the liver, heart, or spleen is inflamed.

3) growths, and from where to where – usually the presence of phlegm, possibly parasites

4) redness – heat, and where again (based on 5 Element charts)

5) sagginess, indicates Spleen Qi robust or not

6) sallow or yellowing; even darkening, this spells out problems for the pancreas and adrenals

7) dryness – if correlates with tongue this can indicate internal (chronic) or external (acute) dryness

8) overall Shen – indicates interest, energy, joy; or conversely if there is a “cloud” over the Shen, history of abuse (darting or detached), parasitic or gui-related possession (“hungry ghost” phenomenon), or perhaps if they are too clear a waste of Qi, or too interested, a very dangerous Qi called “wasting”; very rarely, there are “pointy” or “beady” eyes which can indicate the person’s level of trust in society and yourself (correlate with BS lines near the ears )

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Aside from hearing, how many doctors give two hoots about the ears? Did you know, though, that even more than the tongue the ears are a complete flowering of the entire body’s nervous system? So if there is something showing on the ear, such as a bump, redness, veins, or freckles, then there is a good chance that something about that person’s system correlating to that area is out of balance. How do we know this? Did you know the ear used to be part of your cranial cavity? Through a process called Apoptosis, however, your body “sculpted” the ears out of your head so that you could hear as well as have a quick way to access the nervous system.  It’s not only the “circuit breaker box” of the body, it is the safest way to alter the brain’s chemistry via intervention therapy.

However, please do not ever let ear tacks or seeds stay in your ear for more than 5 days, and also NEVER EVER get your ears stapled. Stapling ears is not part of TCM, and could lead to serious infection and damage to the nervous system. The point that these sham doctors pretending to be acupuncturists are using are Shen Men and Sympathetic or Shen Men and Kidney (via low back area). Either way both go to the root of your being. Plus the ear can get infected by staff or MRSA, it is simply a bad idea.

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Last but not least on today’s hit-parade is the abdomen. The abdomen is something people have become ashamed of. They should not be. They should, however be concerned about five different routine conditions/changes I see in the abdomen (of Kentuckians).

1) Dai Mai syndrome – commonly referred to lovingly as “dunlap” – you know, when your belly has dun’ lapped your belt’. Actually this is a really good saying and I wish more men would take note. When your belly overhangs your waist, it blocks the upward and downward flow of four important digestive and endocrine channels: gallbladder, spleen/pancreas, stomach, and kidney. Those are pretty huge. Is it any wonder that men and women with dunlap end up with stones and diabetes?

2) Centerline hollows – mostly we see these in the RN6, 9, 10, and 14 areas, soemtimes also up on the chest for childhood deficiencies.  RN6 is below the navel/belly button, and indicates a weakness of Qi. If the ENTIRE abdomen is shrunk as compared to the rib-cage, then you know it is chronic starvation and weakness of spleen/stomach Qi. If the hollow is at RN5 or 9, there is a weakness in the fluid regulation of the body. If at 10 or 14 there is a weakness in the heart system.

3) Excess spots or “buttons” – these are the kind of thing you see in patients of excess eating disorders, such as cravings, binging, or plain bad eating. RN12 is the main culprit, but if SP15 or ST25 is hard (level with navel) then you can expect some GI tract issues, especially constipation.  given that the intestines form the 4th brain of 5 in the body, it might be a good idea for this person to fast for a day and perform colon cleansing.

4) Striations in the muscle. Usually this person will have them in the triceps (and maybe biceps), and hamstrings as well. This is not caused specifically by childbirth, it is caused by Spleen Qi deficiency failing to nourish the muscles. Usually it is an indication of under-eating by about 500-800 calories for years and years in an attempt to lose weight, when really they are low in metabolism and maybe anemic. Please see me ASAP if you have these.

5) Sore spots – especially over the liver, spleen/pancreas, kidneys, gallbladder, appendix, and colon. Soreness in the area indicates imbalance in those organs. Soreness of all of them means systemic nervous inflammation.

I will talk about facial diagnosis some other time.

I hope all of the above helps people to get some perspective on their bodies and patients, and hopefully seek competent and appropriate medical attention – but not to FREAK OUT! Don’t freak out, just do something about it now that you know a little more.

~Shifu Careaga




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