Pattern Differentiation in TCM

Pattern differentiation is one of the major features of Chinese medicine which differentiates it from Western Medicine. While there are many diseases in TCM that can be considered the same with those identified in Western Medicine, biomedical terms are not  exact substitutes for treatment and so pattern differentiation is important in diagnosis and treatment.

Different treatments for the same disease recognize that each patient is unique in terms of responding to the treatment of the disease. In addition, practitioners often look at a syndrome, which is a pattern of symptoms that can be seen at a certain stage of a disease. For example, a migrane or a recurring headache is the same in Western Medicine and a doctor may prescribe paracetamol or any other painkiller for treatment. In Chinese medicine, a migration can either signal a problem with the liver because it is connected to the eyes and head and/or the kidney, which belongs to the water element and promotes wood (liver). Another example is that the common cold can manifest in different syndromes like wind-cold or wind-heat so the treatment depends on syndrome differentiation.

On the other hand, the same treatment for different disease means that different diseases at certain stages of progression can show the same pathological changes or syndrome. For example, three patients present different illnesses: one has a headache, another has gout, and the last has heartburn; if these three illnesses are caused by pathogenic heat, then they could get the same treatment.

 

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