The advanced diagnostics techniques below are possible ways to diagnose your patients. I’ve given you some basic ideas about how to use each one. You will probably find you use them in combination or in sequence most of the time.

Jump to:
Eight Principles . Six Channels . Four Levels
San JiaoZangFu . Study Materials

Should you prefer to look at the class-by-class notes, please click here.

Eight Principle Theory

When you just have no damn clue what’s going on with your patient, this is an excellent place to get one. This gives you a launch point to begin to define a diagnosis and differentiation, which allows you to form a treatment plan. Sometimes this theory will give you enough information to leap to another diagnostic model which further hones your differentiation and treatment plan.

The Eight Principles help you decide if a problem is more yin or more yang, if it’s interior or exterior, more cold or hot, and if it’s a deficiency in the body or an excess that is causing the chief complaint(s).

Eight Principle Theory part 1
Eight Principle Theory part 2
Eight Principle Diagnostic Study Chart

Four Levels

This model helps you diagnose and treat an illness that begins as an exterior heat invasion, which is sometimes expressed as a “warm injured disease.” The San Jiao model tracks the progress of a disease from the upper jiao downward through the middle and lower jiao. If you use the Four Levels and the San Jiao models together you get a 3D picture of where the disease is in the body, what it’s doing, and how to treat it.

Four Levels Class Notes

San Jiao Theory

The San Jiao Theory is also a Warm Disease model of diagnosis and is often used in combination with the Four Levels model. Four level tells you the progression of a disease from the surface to the interior. San Jiao tracks the progress of a disease from the upper jiao downward through the middle and lower jiao. If you use the two together you get a 3D model of where the disease is in the body, what it’s doing, and how to treat it.

San Jiao Class Notes (starts on page 6).

Six Channel Theory - Advanced Diagnostic Techniques - Shang Han Lun and Six Channel TheoryThis model helps you diagnose an illness that begins as an exterior cold invasion. This is often expressed as a “cold injured disease.” This theory was developed by Zhang Zhongjing during the Han dynasty (around 200AD) when a massive wave of infectious disease killed many people in China.

The Six Channel Theory not only helps you diagnose cold type diseases, but also helps you find what stage that disease has progressed to and gives you herbal remedies to help cure the patient.You will study much more about this in herbal classics.

Six Channel Theory Class Notes

Zangfu Syndromes - Advanced Diagnostic Techniques - zangfu diagnosisThis is the bulk of what you will do in a TCM school in your student clinic experience. Zangfu diagnosis methods will help you decide which organ system/s are involved in a patient’s problem and will help you then decide what to do about it. Zangfu works best for internal medicine type problems. It isn’t so great for things like musculo-skeletal pain, sports injuries, and things of that nature. For that you need some Master Tung skills, meridian and collateral knowledge and so forth.

The Zangfu information presented below is offered in 2 ways: class notes which includes more fleshed out material and also in chart format for easy reference in clinic. You will see red hand icons on the charts. These mean that these are key symptoms and signs for these syndromes. You should probably know those really well for testing purposes.

Heart and Small Intestine Syndromes – Class Notes
Heart/Small Intestine  – Diagnostic Chart

Lung and Large Intestine Syndromes – Class Notes
Lung/Large Intestine – Diagnostic Chart

Spleen and Stomach Syndromes – Class Notes
Spleen/Stomach – Diagnostic Chart

Liver and Gallbladder Syndromes – Class Notes
Liver/Gallbladder – Diagnostic Chart

Kidney and Bladder Syndromes – Class Notes (starts on page 4)
Kidney/Bladder – Diagnostic Chart

Combination Syndromes – Class Notes
Combination Syndromes – Diagnostic Chart

(Don’t let on like you know, but between you and me, zangfu diagnosis is really an herbal diagnosis method that’s been superimposed onto acupuncture when TCM was invented in the mid 20th century. It works pretty well for acupuncture, but you may find that after you are done with school you don’t use it as much in the needling portion of your practice. Shhhhh. A teacher is looking this way….pretend like we’re just talking about the weather!)

Study Materials

ZangFu Diagnostic Model Study Guide – use the quick reference charts above
Eight Principles Diagnostic Model Study Guide
Six Channels, Four Levels, San Jiao Diagnostic Model Study Guide


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