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General Symptoms and Their Meaning in TCM

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General Symptoms and Their Meaning in TCM

Colors of the Face

Lips and Mouth

Chills and Fever

Appetite, Eating, and Taste
Defecation and Urination

Colors of the Face Meaning

Red (Excess or Xu Heat)

Whole Face Heat from External Evil or Hyperactivity of Zang Fu (Excess)

Cheeks, Tidal Fever, Night Sweats Internal Heat (Xu)

Pale (Cold or Loss of Blood)

Pale White Yin Excess or Yang Xu

Bright White with Puffy and Bloated Appearance Yang Qi Xu

Withered White Blood Xu

Yellow (Damp or Xu)

Body, Face, Eyes, and Skin Jaundice

Bright Orange Yang Jaundice (Damp Heat)

Smoky Dark Yin Jaundice (Cold Damp or Long Term Stagnation)

Pale Yellow (Not Bright) Blood and Qi Xu

Blue (Cold, Pain, Blood Stagnation, Convulsions)

Pale with Blue Tinge and Severe Pain in the Epigastrium and Abdomen Excess Yin and Cold

Bluish Purple Face and Lips with Intermittent Pain Behind the Sternum or Precordial Stagnation of Heart Blood

Bluish Purple Face and Lips with High Fever and Violent Movement of Limbs in Children Infantile Convulsion

Dark Gray (Blood Stagnation and Kidney Xu)

Pale and Dark with Lumbar Soreness and Cold Feet Kidney Yang Xu

Dark without Brightness with Scaly Skin Prolonged Blood Stagnation

Appearance Meaning

Overweight with Mental Depression Qi Xu and Excess Damp Phlegm

Loss of Weight in Long Term Illness Exhaustion of Essential Qi

Thin with Dry Skin Blood Xu

Extended Neck Excess Lung Syndrome with Excess Phlegm

Facing Downward Qi Xu with Shortness of Breath, Dislike of Speaking

Violent Movement of Limbs Wind Diseases, Infantile Convulsions

Weakness, Motor Impairment, and Muscular Atrophy of Limbs Wei Syndromes

Pain, Soreness, Heaviness and Numbness in Tendons, Bones and Muscles, with Swelling Bi Syndromes
and Restricted Movement of Joints

Numbness or Impaired Movement of Limbs on One Side of the Body Hemiplegia or Wind Stroke

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Eyes Meaning

Redness and Swelling Wind Heat or Liver Fire

Yellow Sclera Jaundice

Ulceration or Canthus Damp Heat

Upward, Straight Forward, or Sideways Staring Liver Wind

Nose Meaning

Flapping of Ala Nasi Heat in the Lungs or Qi Xu of both Lung and Kidney

Clear Discharge Wind Cold

Turbid Discharge Wind Heat

Prolonged Turbid Discharge, with Stinking Discharge Rhinitis or Chronic Sinusitis

Ears Meaning

Burnt Black and Dry and Withered Auricles in Severe Illness Consumption of Kidney essence

Purulent Discharge Damp Heat of Liver and Gall Bladder

Gums Meaning

Pale Gums Blood Xu

Redness and Swelling Stomach Fire

Redness and Swelling with Bleeding Injury of Vessels by Stomach Fire

Lips and Mouth Meaning

Pale Lips Blood Xu

Bluish Purple Lips Retention of Cold or Blood Stagnation

Red and Dry Lips Excess Heat

Sudden Collapse with Open Mouth Xu

Sudden Collapse with Lockjaw Excess

Throat Meaning

Redness, Swelling, and Soreness Lung and Stomach Heat

Redness and Swelling with Yellow or White Ulcer Spots Toxic Heat in Lung and Stomach

Bright Red with Mild Soreness Yin Xu with Hyperactive Fire

False Gray and White Membrane over Throat that is Hard to Remove, and Bleeds Diphtheria from Heat in the Lung Consuming Yin.
Following Removal

Chills and Fever Meaning

Chills Accompanied by Fever (External Pathogen Fighting with Antipathogenic Qi (Zheng Qi))

Severe Chills, Mild Fever, Absence of Sweating, Headache, General Aching, and a Wind Cold
Superficial Tight Pulse

Mild Chills, Severe Fever, Thirst, Sweating, and a Superficial Rapid Pulse Wind Heat

Alternating Chills and Fever

Alternating Chills and Fever with a Bitter Taste in the Mouth, Thirst, Fullness and Intermediate Syndrome
Stuffiness in the Chest and Hypochondrium

Alternating Chills Occurring at Specific Times of the Day Malaria

Fever without Chills

High Fever with Aversion to Heat, Profuse Sweating, Severe Thirst, and a Surging Pulse Excess Heat in the Interior

Fever at a Fixed Hour of the Day Tidal Fever

Tidal Fever in the Afternoon or Evening, with Night Sweating, and a Red Tongue with Little Yin Xu

Fever more Pronounced in the Afternoon with Constipation, and Fullness and Pain in the Yangming Fu Syndrome

Chills without Fever

Chilled Appearance, Cold Limbs, and a Deep, Slow, and Weak Pulse Interior Cold Xu
Perspiration Meaning

Absence of Sweating in Exterior Syndromes Invasion by Pathogenic Cold

Presence of Sweating in Exterior Syndromes Exterior Xu from Exposure to Wind, or Exterior Heat from Invasion of Pathogenic Wind

Night Sweating (May also have Tidal Fever, and a Red Tongue with Little Coat Yin Xu with Hyperactivity of Yang Heat

Spontaneous Sweating (May also have Chills, Listlessness, and Lassitude) Qi and Yang Xu

Profuse Sweating with High Fever, Mental Restlessness, Thirst for Cold Drinks, and a Excess Interior Heat
Surging Pulse

Profuse Sweating with Listlessness, Feeble Energy, Cold Limbs, and a Deep Thready Pulse Total Exhaustion of Yang Qi
in a Severe Case

Appetite, Eating, and Taste Meaning

Poor Appetite in a Prolonged Illness with Emaciation, Loose Stools, Lassitude, and a Pale Spleen and Stomach Weakness
Tongue with Thin White Coat

Poor Appetite with Stuffiness in the Chest, Fullness in the Abdomen, and a Thick Sticky Stagnation of Qi of the Spleen and Stomach Caused by Retention of Food or Dampness
Tongue Coat

Excessive Appetite and Easily Hungry in a Skinny Patient Excess Stomach Fire

Hunger with no Desire to Eat, or Eating Small Amounts of Food Impairment of Stomach Yin, Producing Internal Xu Heat

Lack of Thirst During an Illness Body Fluids are not Consumed (Usually present in a Cold Syndrome, or where Heat is not

Presence of Thirst During an Illness Consumption of Body Fluid or Retention of Phlegm Damp in the Interior Preventing Fluid
from Ascending

Bitter Taste in the Mouth Liver and Gallbladder Fire

Sweet Taste in the Mouth Damp Heat in the Spleen and Stomach

Sour Regurgitation Retention of Heat in the Liver and Stomach

Tastelessness Spleen Xu

Defecation and Urination Meaning

Constipation from Dryness of the Stool Accumulation of Heat or Consumption of Body Fluids

Loose Stools Spleen Xu, or Damp Retention in the Spleen

Watery Stool with Undigested Food Spleen and Kidney Yang Xu

Bloody Stool with Mucus and Tenesmus Damp Heat in the Intestines and Stagnation of Qi in the Intestinal Tract

Yellow Urine Heat Syndrome

Clear and Profuse Urine Absence of Pathogenic Heat, or Cold Syndrome

Turbid Urine Damp Heat Pouring Downward, or Downward Leakage of Turbid Essence.

Red Urine Injury of Vessels by Heat

Clear Urine with Increased Volume Infirmity of Kidney Qi, and Bladder Dysfunction in Controlling Urine

Scanty, Yellow Urine, with Urgent and Painful Urination Downward Movement of Damp Heat in to the Bladder

Dribbling Urination or Retention of Urine in Severe Cases Exhausted Kidney Qi (Xu) or Stagnant Bladder Qi (Excess) due to the Downward Infusion
of Damp Heat, Stagnant Blood, or Stones.

Pain Meaning

Severe Distention and Mild Pain Moving from Place to Place, Often Occurring in the Qi Stagnation
Chest, Epigastric, Hypochondriac, and Abdomen

Headache with Distending Sensation in the Head Upward Disturbance by Fire and Heat

Prickling Pain, Sharp and Fixed in Location, Often Occurring in the Chest, Epigastric, Blood Stagnation
Hypochondriac, and Lower Abdominal Regions.

Pain with and Heavy Sensation (Weighty Pain), Often Occurring in the Head, Four Limbs Dampness Blocking Qi and Blood
and Lumbar Regions

Colicky Pain Abrupt Obstruction of the Qi by Substantial Pathogenic Factors

Pulling Pain which is Spasmodic in Nature and Short in Duration Liver Wind

Burning Pain with a Burning Sensation and a Preference for Coolness, Often Occurring in Invasion of the Collaterals by Pathogenic Fire and Heat or from Excessive Yang Heat due
the Hypochondriac regions on Both Sides, and in the Epigastric Region to Yin Xu
Pain with a Cold Sensation and a Preference for Warmth, Often Occurring in the Head, Pathogenic Cold Blocking the Collaterals or Lack of Warmth and Nourishment in the Zang
Lumbar, Epigastric, and Abdominal Regions. Fu and Meridians due to Yang Qi Xu

Dull Pain that is not severe, lingers, and lasts for a long time Xu Cold Syndrome

Headaches 1. Disturbance of the Clear Yang by Pathogenic Factors (Usually Excess) 2. Stagnation of
Qi and Blood in Endogenous Diseases Blocking the Meridians and Depriving the Brain of
Nourishment 3. Blood and Qi Xu Failing to Nourish the Head, and the Sea of Marrow
Becomes Empty.

Chest Pain Pathological Change in the Heart and Lungs

Hypochondriac Pain Obstruction or Undernourishment of the Liver and Gallbladder Meridians

Epigastric Pain (Upper, Middle. Lower) Invasion of the Stomach by Pathogenic Cold, Retention of Food in the Stomach, or
Invasion of the Stomach by Liver Qi

Abdominal Pain Excess Causes: Retention of Cold, Accumulation of Heat, Stagnation of Qi, Stagnation of
Blood, Retention of Food or Parasitic Diseases
- Upper is SP
- Lower is KI, BL, LI, SI, Uterus Xu Causes: Qi Xu, Blood, Xu, Deficiency of Cold
- Sides are LIV

Lumbago Obstruction of the Kidney Meridian or Deficiency of the Kidney Failing to Nourish the
Lumbar Region

Pain in the Limbs (Joints, Muscles, or Meridians) Retardation of Qi and Blood Circulation due to Invasion of the Exogenous Pathogenic

Persistent Pain in a Recent Disease or Pain that is Aggravated by Pressure Excess Condition

Intermittent Pain that is Alleviated by Pressure Xu Condition

Sleep Meaning

Insomnia with Palpitations and Dizziness Failure of Blood to Nourish the Heart due to Heart and Spleen Xu

Insomnia with a Restless Mind, and Dream Disturbed Sleep Hyperactive Heart Fire

Difficulty Falling Asleep due to an Uncomfortable and Empty Sensation in the Stomach or Derangement of Stomach Qi Leading to Mental Restlessness
Gastric Discomfort After a Full Meal

Lethargy Accompanied by Dizziness Phlegm Damp in the Interior

Half Asleep with General Lassitude Heart and Kidney Yang Xu

Menses Meaning

Menses of Shortened Cycle, Excessive in Amount, Deep Red in Color, and Thick in Quality Excess Heat in the Blood

Menses that are Light Colored, Profuse in Amount, and Thin in Quality Failure of Qi to Command Blood

Prolonged Cycle with Scanty Purplish Dark Discharge or Clots Stagnation of Blood due to Cold

Thin, Scanty, Light Colored Flow Blood Xu

Irregular Menstrual Cycle Disharmony of the Flush and Conception Vessels due to Obstruction of Liver Qi

Premenstrual or Menstrual Distending Pain in the Breasts and Lower Abdomen which Stagnation of Blood due to Cold
Intensifies on Pressure During Menses

Dull Pain in the Lower Abdomen During or After Menses which is Alleviated by Pressure Qi and Blood Xu
References Used

The TCM information presented here has been referenced from numerous sources; including teachers, practitioners, class notes from Five Branches University
(, the following books, as well as other sources. If you have benefited from this information, please consider supporting the authors and their
works by purchasing the books below.

TCM Diagnosis Books/References


Diagnosis in Chinese The Practice of Chinese Practical Diagnosis in Tongue Diagnosis in Atlas of Chinese Tongue Atlas of Chinese Tongue
Medicine: A Medicine: The Treatment Traditional Chinese Chinese Medicine Diagnosis (2nd Edition) Diagnosis, Volume 2
Comprehensive Guide, 1e of Diseases with Medicine, 1e (
Acupuncture and Chinese (
Herbs, 2e ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0443045828&linkCode=as2&tag=sacredlotus-


Obstetrics and Gynecology Traditional Chinese

Browse All Chinese Medicine Reference Texts ▶ (
in Chinese Medicine, 2e Medicine Diagnosis Study
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General Diagnosis

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4 Pillars of Diagnosis

1. Looking (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/4-pillars-looking-tcm-diagnosis)

2. Listening (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/4-pillars-listening-tcm-diagnosis)

3. Asking (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/4-pillars-asking-tcm-diagnosis)

4. Pulse/Palpation (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/4-pillars-pulse-palpation-tcm-diagnosis)

The 29 Pulses (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/4-pillars-pulse-images-tcm-diagnosis)

Pulse Indications Table (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/4-pillars-pulse-table-tcm-diagnosis)

Zang Fu Organ Patterns

Bladder Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/zang-fu-bladder-patterns-tcm)

Heart Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/zang-fu-heart-patterns-tcm)

Kidney Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/zang-fu-kidney-patterns-tcm)

Large Intestine Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/zang-fu-large-intestine-patterns-tcm)

Liver Gallbladder Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/zang-fu-liver-gallbladder-patterns-tcm)

Lung Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/zang-fu-lung-patterns-tcm)

San Jiao Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/zang-fu-san-jiao-patterns-tcm)

Small Intestine Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/zang-fu-small-intestine-patterns-tcm)

Spleen Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/zang-fu-spleen-patterns-tcm)

Stomach Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/zang-fu-stomach-patterns-tcm)

Zang Zu Combined Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/zang-zu-combined-patterns-tcm)

Differentiation of Syndromes

By the 4 Levels (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/differentiation-syndromes-4-levels-tcm)

By the 8 Principles (Ba Gong) (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/differentiation-syndromes-8-principles-ba-gong-tcm)

By Qi, Blood, & Fluids (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/differentiation-syndromes-qi-blood-fluids-tcm)

By San Jiao Patterns (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/differentiation-syndromes-san-jiao-patterns-tcm)

By the Six Stages (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/differentiation-syndromes-six-stages-tcm)

TCM Gynecology

Amenorrhea (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/menses-amenorrhea-symptoms-tx-obgyn-tcm)

Dysmenorrhea (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/menses-dysmenorrhea-symptoms-tx-obgyn-tcm)

Early Menses (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/menses-early-symptoms-tx-obgyn-tcm)

Extended Menses (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/menses-extended-symptoms-tx-obgyn-tcm)

Flooding & Trickling Menses (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/menses-flooding-trickling-symptoms-tx-obgyn-tcm)

Heavy Menses (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/menses-heavy-symptoms-tx-obgyn-tcm)

Irregular Menses (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/menses-irregular-symptoms-tx-obgyn-tcm)

Late Menses (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/menses-late-symptoms-tx-obgyn-tcm)

Scanty Menses (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/menses-scanty-symptoms-tx-obgyn-tcm)

Spotting Menses (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/menses-spotting-symptoms-tx-obgyn-tcm)

Associated Symptoms (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/menses-associated-symptoms-tx-obgyn-tcm)

General TCM

Symptoms & Diagnosis (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/symptoms-patterns-tcm)

Yin & Yang Diagnosis Table (/go/diagnosis-chinese-medicine/get/yin-yang-deficiency-excess-table)


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