In our last Blog we explored the way dietary modification and exercises like Qigong can help prevent senility, dementia and Alzheimer’s. In part three of this examination we want to speak of how more specific conditions and therapies are arrived at by the diagnosis of their signs and symptoms.
Of the thirty-one patterns of diagnosis that are associated with dementia in Chinese medicine, nine patterns pertain specifically to the heart, three pertain to the liver and seven pertain to the kidneys. The remaining patterns have causative factors that range from trauma to age related stasis and stagnation of blood and Qi.
Due to the complexity of diagnosis of these conditions we advise the expertise of a Doctor of Chinese medicine. We are trained to understand and diagnose the various patterns and their signs and symptoms through the use of specific diagnostic tools, especially tongue and pulse diagnosis.
The science of diagnosis by inspection of the tongue was chronicled as far back as the Shang dynasty (1700 BCE) and has been continually updated and perfected since that time. There are four basic aspects of tongue analysis that include the tongue body, its color and shape, the coating including color, thickness, distribution and root, moisture showing the condition of body fluids and the ‘spirit’ which is kind of the Gestalt of the tongues presentation.
All of these signs allow us to determine not only the organs involved in disease progression but also the probable causes and prognosis of the disease.
Pulse analysis developed during the same period as tongue diagnosis but has more of a focus on the channels and pathways of Qi and their relationship to the organ and tissue systems of the body.
The Chinese pulse is taken at the radial artery of both wrists. There are 31 pulse types that can be felt at three different positions and at three different depths on each wrist for a total of 279 possible pulse presentations that relate to the major channels of Qi flow in the body.
The combination of tongue and pulse diagnosis is an incredibly sophisticated tool for finding the precise cause, location and prognosis of any disease and with this skill set Chinese doctors are able to parse out which of the thirty-one types of dementia may be present or about to occur.
In example, a person presenting with forgetfulness, absent mindedness, short attention span, inability to concentrate, insomnia, anxiety, agitation, heart palpitations, loss of appetite, a pale tongue with a white coat and a thready rapid pulse will be diagnosed with a heart blood and spleen Qi deficiency.
Based on that diagnosis the treatment principle would be to reinforce and benefit the heart and spleen, nourish the Qi and calm the mind.
An appropriate herbal remedy for this condition would be Gui Pi Tang or ‘Restore the Spleen Decoction’.
This determination of pattern diagnosis, treatment principle and remedial medicine would be followed for any possible condition that a person might present with and is what makes traditional Chinese medicine so very effective in treating any condition.
Because dementia takes so many forms it is important to get the appropriate diagnosis before any remedial herbal medicines are prescribed.
In our fourth and final installment on the subject of dementia we will look at prevention and the things that can be done to keep our minds and spirits clear, calm and healthy.
Yours in good health,
Robert Kienitz, DTCM