What is health?

Having found AcuChatt, I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that Modern Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine have different ideas when it comes to what defines health. Really though, both systems are just looking at health with a different end goal in mind.

Modern Western Medicine looks at health from a stand point of disease and curability. So, if you are feeling off, labs are done, and results are used to determine illness. If numbers come back “within normal limits,” then someone is not sick, period. And if numbers come back abnormal, then a medication is prescribed to correct the imbalance.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, on the other hand, looks at health from the point of preventing illness. Minor symptoms are viewed as warning signs for larger and more complicated imbalances down the road. And so, smaller signs mean a lot more in Chinese diagnosis.

All of these things, with pulse and tongue diagnosis, put together a picture of health for the TCM doctor. He or she can use these presentations to determine where a patient’s system is weak, and treat it accordingly to prevent (or postpone) future imbalances and avoid significant long term health issues.

Which is why The 10 Questions are key to TCM diagnosis – which you can find below. How do you compare the the TCM Health Standard?


The 10 Questions of TCM

  1. What is your appetite like?

One should feel hungry before meals (not just eat because it’s time to eat), and should feel this way 3-4x per day. There should also be no discomfort during or after eating, including heartburn, bloating/abdominal distention, or belching. Finally, food should taste good. 

  1. What is your sleep like?

One should fall asleep easily, within 10 minutes or so of laying down to bed. Dreams should not be excessive, or easily remembered upon waking. And one should feel rested and ready to take on the day upon rising.

  1. (A) What is your bowel movement (poop) like?

A healthy Bowel Movement (BM) should look like a floating brown banana in the toilet bowl. It should not have an especially foul smell, or any food particles/slimy grease to it. And one should do so 1-2 times per day.

  1. (B)What is your Urination like?

A healthy individual will go to the bathroom every 3-4 hours during the day, and last through the night without waking up to go. The color should be pale yellow, and not be accompanied with any pain or discomfort. Finally, the amount you put in, should be approximately the same amount that comes out (drink 1 cup, pee 1 cup).

  1. What is your sex drive like?

While frequency will decline as one gets older, a healthy individual will have a sex drive. There are several “formulas” to calculate what the appropriate frequency of desire is (regardless of if there is follow through or not). Here is a simple one to determine if you are in a healthy range:

Using the age, multiple the ten’s place by 9. Using the answer, the tens place shows the number of weeks and the ones place shows the frequency.

Ex. 65 year old: 6 x 9 = 54 -> in 5 weeks, one should have desire 4 times.

  1. Do you feel hot or cold?

A healthy person should not feel too hot or too cold. Hands and feet should be warm, and the face should be cool (in relation to the individuals hands/feet).

  1. Do you get thirsty?

A healthy person should feel thirsty, but easily quench that thirst by drinking water. If one never feels thirst, he or she is drinking too much water. If one is always thirsty, there is something deeper that needs to be looked at. Further, a TCM doctor will want to know what temperature drink you prefer (hot, cold, or room temp). 

  1. What is your sweat like?

A healthy individual will sweat upon exertion. No sweat, night sweats, and sweating too easily or profusely are all a sign of something not functioning at 100%.

  1. Do you feel any pain?

A healthy person should be pain free – really, we should not be aware of our bodies at all. But noticing a discomfort shows that something is not functioning properly. If one does have pain, a TCM doctor would want to know: where is it, what does the pain feel like (sharp, achy, etc), what makes it worse, and what makes it better. 

  1. How is your breathing and heart rate?

A healthy person should not feel any difficulty breathing in normal circumstances. It should be easy to breathe and catch one’s breath. There should also be no pressure/distention/pain in the chest area. Further, one should not feel his or heart beating in the chest. 

  1. Eyes/Ears/Nose/Throat

All senses should function without any difficult. There should be no visual obstruction like floaters clouding your vision. Hearing should be clear without any ringing or underwater sounds. Smell should be easy, with little to no congestion. And the throat should not hurt, be painful, or swollen.


Women & Children Special Questions

We said 10 questions, but women and children have a little more detail that is necessary. 

  1. Women: What is your menstrual cycle like?

A healthy woman will have a menstrual cycle that is consistent and about 28 days, with 3-5 days of actual menses. She should not feel any significant PMS. A healthy woman should NOT experience any major mood swings or irritability , low back/muscle soreness, breast tenderness, or painful cramps.

  1. Children (or those who were once children):

Traditionally this question related to childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, chickenpox, etc. While these are less of a concern since the advent of vaccinations, the TCM doctor would still want to have a medical history that includes whether or not the patient has had such diseases or their respective vaccinations.  (No, we are NOT touching the vaccination debate.)