Oliver's BlogFriday 1st February 2019
The incredible value of Oriental diagnosis
The incredible value of Oriental diagnostic methods by Oliver Cowmeadow,
One of the greatest gifts of Oriental medicine is a collection of methods of assessing our internal health by looking at subtle (and sometimes not so subtle!) changes on the outside – the hue and texture of the skin, different parts of the face revealing what is happening in different organs like the lungs and liver, people’s posture and quality of voice, as well as looking at the hands and feet, the whites of the eyes, and feeling differences in the back and abdomen.
Macrobiotics has popularised many of these methods, and presents them in a way that anyone can understand, giving everyone the ability to monitor changes in their health. This is an absolutely fantastic tool for keeping ourselves well, and in understanding what is happening if we develop symptoms or illness, so we can see the changes needed to bring ourselves back to full health.
These methods of assessing our health do not tell us of exact illnesses we may have or may be developing, but give a more general idea of the state of health of our internal organs and tissues. They are very useful in maintaining good health – by spotting rising imbalances in a certain organ or part of the body, we can make changes in our daily food, activities, exercise and sleep, and maybe our thinking too, to bring ourselves back into balance, and so avoid future illnesses.
An example of this is observing that the skin colour on our whole face has become darker, and especially under the eyes. In Oriental medicine this reveals that our kidney and bladder functions have decreased. We may already be feeling more fatigued and noticing changes in our urination, but if we continue on this path we become more likely to suffer from urinary infections, deep coldness in the lower back and often the whole body, chronic tiredness and insomnia.
Another example – the region of the face between our eyebrows gives indications of what is happening to our liver, if this region becomes tight and tense, then we are holding a lot of tension in our liver and gallbladder (pushing into these organs just below the ribs on the right side can then feel hard and painful). This may be making us feel irritable and ‘liverish’, impatient and snappy. Again if this imbalance increases over time, various problems linked with the liver may manifest, such as tension headaches in the sides of the head and behind the eyes, some vision problems, heavier than normal menstrual periods with more cramping, and some digestive changes.
Next step – having assessed our internal health and worked out the imbalances in the body, Oriental medicine can tell us how to make adjustments in our food, lifestyle etc. to bring us back into balance and health. Using the above example of an imbalance in the kidney and bladder functions it will almost certainly be helpful to reduce coffee and caffeinated drinks and alcohol, cold foods like ice cream and too much raw fruits and other foods, and instead eat more deeply nourishing and warming soups and stews, whole grains like brown rice and millet, sea vegetables like kelp giving lots of minerals which strengthen these organs, and long cooked aduki and black turtle beans. We may also need to reduce work or over-activity and stress from our lives, and reorganise our lives to get more sleep.
I have used these Oriental health assessment methods for myself for the past 38 years to keep my health strong, and on the odd occasions when I have developed symptoms or a health problem I have used them to work out the underlying imbalances in my body creating the problem, and then been able to heal myself. I have also used them with literally thousands of clients and students over the years, enabling me to guide others to heal illnesses and strengthen their health.
If you would like to learn how you can use these incredible methods to understand your health and the health of your family and friends, they form the core of our 5 day Looking After Your Health course, which also includes 10 cooking classes showing how to prepare healing foods, dishes and teas.