Facial Diagnosis in the Huang di nei jing ling shu

In questioning how to attain a long life, The Yellow Emperor, is given a series of responses on the lifestyles and ethics that one must choose from and live. He also is given methods of determining one’s health and the stages of health on to sickness. As part of a practitioner’s examination one must look at the patient’s face in order to get a sense of a complex vitality. One’s skin, look, and glow gives an overall sense that can aid in an assessment. Thus leading the practitioner in his further examinations and determine a treatable “pattern”.

In the excitement of modern day acupuncture there are many hybrids of treatments to help someone look young and fresh. It is surprising to find something in a text nearly 2000 years old that would point out toward such a standard of health. We rarely give our ancestors credit in our youth derived culture.

The shape of the face in the passage is described as an entrance to the imperial palace of the mind/spirit/heart.  There is a brightly lit hall, a lookout tower, a courtyard; some hedges and screens.

A reflection of the body and its interiorization is then superimposed on the face. The colors of the complexion are then examined, luster and hues are looked for, the values of the complexion states one’s health. Hints of green and black determine pain, yellow and red shows the presence of heat, and dampness. White areas show cold. Areas dried and drained out show severity, and  the movement of the colors shows the progression of the illness. The bodies organ system is laid out underneath the eyebrows and upon the nose, the limbs stretch out on the sides of the face, and down the cheeks to the jaws.`

Looking at the spirit of one’s face is only a step in a complete examination of the health of an individual, the tongue, the pulse, and abdominal as well as body palpation are tools for a practitioner of Chinese medicine to determine one’s pattern of health.


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Chicago native, Acupuncturist, Teacher, Student. and Lover. Dancing the Cosmic Boogie.

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