7 QUESTIONS YOUR TCM PRACTITIONER WILL ASK YOU
From General Questions To Personal Questions & Everything In Between
By now, most of us know the drill when it comes to a typical visit to the doctor. They’ll check our heart rate, measure our height and weight, and maybe get a blood sample. But when your doctor is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, the process is a little different.
Western medicine and Eastern medicine are two completely different beasts. They understand the body, sickness, and health in very different terms. So it makes sense that a visit to a TCM practitioner won’t be the same as a trip to your primary care provider’s office. In an attempt to demystify eastern medicine like TCM, here’s what you can expect to be asked by your TCM practitioner.
What To Know When You See A TCM Practitioner
In the west, most people go to see their doctor when they’re not feeling well. But when it comes to Eastern medicine, maintenance and prevention is key! So even when you’re feeling fine or “normal”, it’s still a good idea to see your TCM practitioner. They can help you figure out how to stay healthy and happy instead of just nursing you back to health when you’re already under the weather.
During your appointment, the TCM practitioner will perform an examination that’s a little bit different from the usual check-up you get at a western office. They’ll observe how you look, sound, and even smell! They might examine your fingernails, tongue, eyeballs, and skin.
But because TCM is a holistic medical practice, your practitioner will want to know about way more than just what they can see in their office. Most likely, they will ask detailed questions about everything from your sleep to your diet to your bathroom habits. And if you want the best results from your session, it’s a good idea to come prepared with the answers to these questions.
Here’s 7 common questions that you’ll probably get asked when you go to see a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. Just remember–some of these questions might feel a little embarrassing to answer, but it’s incredibly important that you answer everything as honestly and fully as you can. That will give your practitioner the information they need to keep you healthy!
7 Questions To Expect From Your TCM Practitioner
Are you in any pain and where?
This question is probably easy to answer, even without knowing about it ahead of time. If your knees ache after a workout or your stomach always hurts after lunch, you’re probably well aware of it! But it’s important to make note of chronic or repetitive pain, including where it hurts, how it hurts, and what other things you were doing when the pain starts or stops.
In TCM, pain is usually understood as Qi, or your life force, becoming stagnant. By figuring out where you feel the pain and what triggers it, your practitioner can figure out where your Qi is blocked up and how to get it flowing again.
Do you usually feel hot or cold?
In TCM, some things–like people and food–have hot, cold, or neutral “natures.” Natures are dictated by the balance of Yin and Yang energies that food or person contains. Yin energy, which is associated with femininity, the moon, and passiveness, is cool. On the other hand, Yang energy is fiery, passionate, and masculine. So foods or people with more Yin energy tend to have cool natures and vice versa for people with strong Yang.
Your TCM practitioner will try to figure out whether you have an inherently warm or cool nature. This will help them figure out which herbs and practices to prescribe when you’re not feeling well.
How are you sleeping?
Again, this question is most likely pretty easy to answer. And for most people, that answer is–not enough!
Before you go into your practitioner’s office, try to keep track of your sleep schedule and quality for a week or so. When are you hitting the hay and when do you roll out of bed? Are you waking up every hour or so throughout the night? Or do you have to drag yourself out of bed after your fifth alarm goes off?
In TCM, there’s a few different kinds of insomnia. By giving your practitioner more detailed information about how you’ve been sleeping, you can help them make the most accurate diagnoses of your sleeping trouble, if you have any.
What are your energy levels like?
Do you feel like no matter how many shots of espresso you add to your Starbucks order, you just can’t put some pep in your step? Or do you have so much energy that trying to chill out or even get to sleep is a challenge? Wherever you land on the spectrum of energy, your TCM practitioner will want to know.
That’s because energy is SO important in TCM. Qi, the primary lifeforce that runs through every living creature, powers everything in our body and mind. So when your energy is unbalanced, it’s a sign that something is going on with your body. The goal is to rebalance your Qi and help you feel well-rested and energized but not frantic.
In TCM, low energy is usually caused by an issue with your Spleen’s Qi because that’s the organ that turns nutrients into energy for our bodies and spreads our Qi out from our heads to our toes. Spleen problems tend to show up as fatigue first (before they turn into more physical and concerning symptoms) so it’s a good idea to let your practitioner know!
How are your bowel movements?
This is a question you might feel weird answering. But in TCM, stool is a very important indicator of health! It’s kind of like a diagnostic tool that lets your practitioner know what’s going on with your internal organs. So, weird as it may feel, keep track of the density, smell, color, and frequency of your bowel movements for a few days before your appointment. This will help your TCM doctor identify any illnesses or imbalances as quickly as possible, since stool is believed to be the first indicator of illness.
How’s your appetite and thirst?
Whether you’re the kind of person who could eat an elephant or you’re fine with a few almonds for lunch, it’s important to let your TCM practitioner know about any changes in your appetite or thirst. When either of these things increase or decrease, it can be a sign of imbalances in your inner organs.
Bonus question: What is your period like?
Anyone who menstruates is probably used to discussing their period with a gynecologist, but not their primary care physician. But in TCM, your period is an important part of your holistic health. Whether you have painful heavy periods or light and quick ones, this information can help yoru TCM practitioner better understand how your Qi is flowing. PMS is understood as a result of blocked up Qi, so your practitioner may want to know what kind of symptoms you experience during that time of the month.
Before you head to your TCM appointment, make sure to check out our guide on what to expect for your first visit with an eastern medicine practitioner.