TCM Diagnostic Patterns - Qi Deficiency, Blood Stagnation...

Traditional Chinese Medicine utilizies a different language, so to speak, to describe imbalances in the body and mind. What a western medical doctor may diagnose as insomnia, for example, a TCM practitioner might diagnose as Yin Deficiency. Most diagnoses in Chinese medicine are more relational than particular in that they account for the entire set of signs and symptoms a person is experiencing not just the main complaint. For example, if two people are experiencing insomnia they both have the same western diagnosis, however one may have Yin deficiency with some Yang excess and the other person may have all Yin deficiency signs. TCM would apply a treatment protocol for each individual that would account for their set of symptoms but would also treat their insomnia. In other words, in TCM there is not a set treatment for insomnia but a range of diagnoses which contain insomnia as a major indicator.

Below you will find some of the most basic TCM patterns with their related signs and symptoms, tongue and pulse indications, meridian relationships and contributing factors.

General TCM Patterns

Deficiency Patterns

 
 
Qi Deficiency
 
Symptoms

fatigue, loose stools, poor appetite, dizziness, pale face, weak voice/reluctance to speak, sweating with little/no exertion
 
pale
empty
Meridians
Spleen, Kidney, Lung, & Heart
Points
ST 36, SP 6, KD 3, LU 9
Factors
poor diet, over work, psychological stress, old age

 
 
Yang Deficiency
 
Symptoms

chills, cold limbs, inability to get warm, loose tools, profuse clear urine, spontaneous sweating, lassitude
 
pale w/white coat
slow, deep, weak
Meridians
Spleen, Kidney, & Heart
Points
ST 36, SP 3, KD 3, CV 4, CV 6, GV 4, UB 23
Factors
poor diet, over work, psychological stress, old age

 
 
Yin Deficiency
 
Symptoms

heat in the hands, feet a/or chest, malor flush, night sweats, anxiety, hot flashes
 
red w/little or no coat
thin, rapid
Meridians
Stomach, Kidney, Liver, Heart, & Lung
Points
SP 6, KD 6, CV 4, PC 7
Factors
psychological stress, over thinking, alcohol, spicy foods

 
 
Blood Deficiency
 
Symptoms

dizziness, palpitations, insomnia, dry skin a/or hair, poor memory, paleness, fatigue, scanty periods
 
pale, thin, dry
thin, choppy
Meridians
Spleen, Liver, & Heart
Points
ST 36, SP 6, LV 3, UB 11, UB 17
Factors
excessive menstruation, blood loss due to internal medical issues, spleen deficiency, emotional strain

Excess Patterns

 
 
Cold (Excess Yin)
 
Symptoms

chills w/no sweating, lack of thirst, clear urine, aversion to cold, loose stools, fatigue
 
pale w/white coat
slow, deep, tight
Meridians
Stomach, & Large Intestine
Points
ST 36, GV 4, CV 4, CV 6
Factors
arises when cold enters the body and consumes the yang, can arise from internal or external factors

 
 
Heat (Excess Yang)
 
Symptoms

agitation, anger, insomnia w/nightmares, fever, red face/head, constipation, desire for cold drinks
 
red, dry, w/yellow coat
rapid, full
Meridians
Liver, & Stomach
Points
LV 3, ST 41, SP 10, KD 6
Factors
excessive diet w/fried foods a/or alcohol, psychological stress

Mixed Patterns

 
 
Qi Stagnation
 
Symptoms

distention, pains that move around, depression, irritability
 
purple
wiry
Meridians
Liver
Points
LI 4, LV 3, ST 36, GB 20
Factors
physical trauma, poor diet, depression, opportunistic infections

 
 
Blood Stagnation
 
Symptoms

pain that is fixed, stabbing a/or severe, dark complexion, fixed masses, bleeding w/clots, purple lips/nails
 
purple
wiry, choppy
Meridians
Liver, Stomach, Large Intestine, & Heart
Points
ST 36, SP 6, SP 10, UB 40, UB 17
Factors
physical trauma, longer term qi and blood deficiencies, or excesses of hot or cold

 
 
Dampness
 
Symptoms

heaviness of the head/body, dizziness, poor appetite, stuffy chest, excessive mucus, poor health
 
sticky coating
slippery, slow
Meridians
Spleen, Stomach, & Lung
Points
ST 36, ST 40, SP 6, SP 9, ST 8
Factors
poor diet particularly with cold/raw foods, over work, damp living/working conditions

 
 
Sinking Qi
 
Symptoms

sensations of bearing down, any prolapses, fatigue
 
pale
empty
Meridians
Stomach, Urinary Bladder, & Governing Vessel
Points
GV 20, CV 6, ST 21 (Stomach prolapse), GV 1 (Anal prolapse)
Factors
longer term qi deficiency

 
 
Qi Perversion
 
Symptoms

belching, cough/asthma, diziness/headache, vertigo (depends on primary meridian)
 
pale w/white coat
wiry, choppy
Meridians
Spleen, Stomach, Lung, & Liver
Points
LU 7, LV 3, ST 36, GB 20
Factors
can be caused by excess, deficiencies, a/or dampness

Sources and More Information

The information on our site is drawn from our own lecture notes and clinical experience.

For a complete list of valuable resources, see our (TCM) Chinese Acupuncture Resources section. The most recommended texts are below: