Syndrome Summary – Introduction

Presented during the Summary Lectures I and II of the CMIR Postgraduate Diploma Course in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture for Doctors and Healthcare Professionals, in collaboration with the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.

Syndrome differentiation is an important characteristic of Chinese Medicine and is the process which must be understood and perfected through clinical practice by the Chinese physician. The collection of various clinical information gathered through different diagnostic methods must be systematically analysed by the Chinese physician in order to arrive at a primary syndrome and secondary syndrome. The Chinese physicians called this methodology ‘the black box’.

You can treat the same disease with different syndromes using different treatment principles. But patients with different diseases might all have the same syndrome and would therefore require the same treatment principle. A syndrome can change at different stages of a patient’s illness.

In order to conclude our advance course, in this summary of syndrome studies we are now focusing on the most important part of this methodology, i.e. visceral syndrome differentiation, which we will study in pairs: Liver and Gallbladder; Heart and Small Intestine; Spleen and Stomach; Lung and Large Intestine; Kidney and Urinary Bladder. There are other aspects of syndrome differentiation such as the Eight Principles, Qi Blood and Body Fluid, meridian and also the syndrome differentiation of exogenous disease. All these are interactively involved with the visceral syndrome differentiation which is the main body of Chinese Internal Medicine.

In order to make the whole subject coherent we have compiled a series of summary charts (see appendix) to include TCM formulae as well as acupuncture points selection for each syndrome.

This individualised, holistic form of medical diagnosis has been systematically evolved through many thousands of years of clinical practice. In contrast to Western evidence based medicine, it can comprehend the complex nature of a patient’s individual health problems, rather than generally categorise their disease. The treatment that follows can be more individualised, compared to the more generalised Western medicine. Syndrome differentiation is therefore essential to any thinking physician of the integrative system of medicine.

Professor Man Fong Mei

February 2012