Assessment & Diagnosis

Traditional Acupuncture Diagnosis and Assessment

As acupuncture and moxibustion are a part of Traditional East Asian Medicine, qualified practitioners typically utilize all of four traditional examinations: Inspection (includes tongue observation), Audio-olfactory assessment, Inquiry and Palpation (includes meridian points palpation, Pulse and Abdominal diagnosis).

Emphasis in the assessments however, may differ depending on each acupuncturist’s background. For example, many Chinese acupuncturists may heavily rely on tongue and pulse signs while Japanese acupuncturists tend to weigh more importance on pulse and abdominal findings.

It is important to note that typically, no single assessment is sufficient to deliver a proper diagnosis.  Experienced practitioners in modern age will gather all available information including Western systems of evaluation, such as orthopedic assessments, to best determine the nature of their patients’ illness. Only then, an effective strategy for acupuncture and moxibustion treatment can be developed.

  • Tongue Diagnosis

tongue out

Related Article: Tongue diagnosis: relationship between sublingual tongue morphology in three tongue protrusion angles and menstrual clinical symptoms. Journal of Integrative Medicine. 13(4):248-56, 2015 [Medline]

  • Pulse Diagnosis

Pulse being taking on a middle aged woman's wrist


*Note: Traditionally there are two main abdominal diagnosis systems based on famous ancient texts Shang Hun Lun (Discussion of Cold Damage written in around 3rd A.D.) and Nanjing (Classic of Difficulties, written in around 2nd A.D.). A page on Kampo site describes abdominal diagnosis based on Shang Hun Lun, which is commonly used by Kampo herbal medicine practitioners.  Many acupuncturists on the other hand, use Nanjing style abdominal diagnosis.