Dx Definitons: Commonly used terms to describe TCM concepts

AVERSION TO COLD: A symptom usually associated with a Wind invasion where the patient has the chills, but cannot get relief through application of warmth (e.g., covering up with blankets or putting on extra clothes does not warm up the patient).

BLOOD STASIS: A pathogenic condition also termed “blood stagnation,” where the flow of blood is obstructed, retarded, or extravasated in spaces between the tissues, congeals, or circulates too slowly. Characterized by deep purple colorings in the body, a fixed stabbing pain, or hard fixed masses thought to be sometimes the precursor of cancer.

BODY FLUIDS (fin ye): Indicates a general term for all normal bodily liquids including sweat, saliva, tears, urine, sexual secretions, mucus, nasal discharge, cerebrospinal fluid, gastric fluid, bone marrow, joint fluids, ear wax, etc.

DEFICIENCY-HEAT: A mild heat syndrome caused by Deficient Yin.

DIARRHEA AT DAWN (Daybreak or Morning diarrhea): An intestinal disorder characterized by chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, and borborygmus recurring daily in the early morning waking hours. It is often associated with Deficient Kidney Yang.

DISPERSING AND DESCENDING: A term for the Lung System whereby the Defensive Qi, Body Fluids, and Qi are spread downward and outward and consolidated with the Kidneys.

ENDOGENOUS FACTORS: A general term referring to pathogenic factors arising from causes within the body causing disease (e.g., arthritis, eczema).

EPIDEMIC WARM FEBRILE DISEASE: Refers to a contagious acute feverish illness featuring Heat syndrome during the early stages and Body Fluid consumption as well as Blood system impairment or consumption in the later stages.

ESSENCE (ling): Indicates the basic highly refined substance which is the material basis of an individual’s life which is acquired from the parents egg and sperm and the continual replenishment through the individual’s daily intake of air, food, and water. It is stored in the Kidneys and circulates throughout the body especially through the Eight Extraordinary Meridians. Essence is the basis for Kidney Qi, Marrow, constitutional strength, growth, development, sexuality, and reproduction.

EXOGENOUS FACTORS: A general term referring to pathogenic factors arising from outside of the body causing disease (e.g., the common cold, influenza).

FLARING HEART FIRE: Indicates a syndrome characterized by insomnia, palpitation, restlessness, delirium or mania, mouth or tongue ulcers, flushed face, dark urine or blood in the urine, hematemesis, nosebleeding, red tongue and rapid pulse. It is caused by depression of the seven emotions, Liver Fire, exopathic Fire, or overeating of spicy and pungent foods.

HECTIC FEVER: A mild fever that regularly occurs during the afternoon.


INTOLERANCE OF COLD: Indicates a symptom pattern where the patient has the chills or feels cold throughout the body and is able to obtain relief (feels normal warmth again) through the application of warmth (e.g., covering up with blankets or putting on additional clothes).

LINGUA GEOGRAPHICA: A tongue body etched with many lines resembling a map.

LIVER FIRE: Refers to the Extreme Heat and adverse rising of Qi in the Liver meridian usually brought on by emotional depression or pathogenic Heat that flares up very quickly to the head. It causes symptoms such as flushed face, congested eyes, headache irritability, bitter taste in the mouth, dizziness, hematemesis, nosebleeds, and a taut and rapid pulse.

LIVER WIND: This syndrome is characterized by trembling, severe dizziness, numbness, convulsion, vertigo, syncope that is associated with Deficient Blood, Deficient Yin, Hyperactive Liver Yang, or extreme Heat.

PAINFUL OBSTRUCTION SYNDROME (Bi Syndrome): Refers to many disorders caused by a blockage in the organs or the meridians causing pain or discomfort in the joints, tissues, or organs. It is usually caused by any combination of the following pathogenic factors-Wind, Cold, Heat, or Damp.

PHLEGM: Congealed, thick, and turbid damp mucus affecting the middle and upper part of the body causing stuffiness, heaviness, dizziness, muzziness, mental disorders, tumors/lumps, hemiplegia, nausea, vomiting or numbness originating from Spleen, Lungs or Kidneys dysfunction.

QI (sometimes CHI): This is an important TCM term that is difficult to translate well into English. It refers to the “dynamic energy,” the “life force field,” that vital function/ activity that distinguishes between inorganic and organic forms, “pure energy forming life sparks” that is without visible substance.

REBELLIOUS QI: Indicates the adverse flow of Qi moving in a direction that it should not (e.g., Stomach Qi rises up rather than descending down and causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, belching, hiccups, etc.).

SINKING OF THE MIDDLE ENERGIZER (Jiao): This refers to the syndrome caused by Deficient Spleen Qi so that internal organs descend from their normal position in the body (e.g., prolapse of the Uterus, Stomach or anus.

SPLEEN NOT HOLDING BLOOD WITHIN THE BLOOD VESSELS: When Spleen Qi is Deficient and it is unable to control keeping the Blood flowing within its vessels, Blood leaks out into the tissues causing bruising, hemorrhaging, menorrhagia, blood in the urine or stools and other bleeding disorders.

SWEATING OF NO SWEATING: Anhydrosis (not sweating) when perspiration is expected.

THIRSTING AND WASTING SYNDROME (Xiao ke): Refers to a type of diabetes mellitus which is characterized by insatiable thirst and hunger, excessive and frequent urination, and emaciation.

TONGUE FUR: Refers to the coating that covers the top surface of the tongue that enables us to determine how deep (and of what nature) the pathogenic factors are that have penetrated the body.

VITALITY: Indicates the external manifestations of the mind, the consciousness, the spirit through visual observation of the luster of the eyes, body language /responses to ascertain the overall state of the patient’s internal organs, Qi, and Blood.

WARM FEBRILE DISEASE: An acute onset of a disease involving fever with predominant Heat symptoms during the early stages and consumes large quantities of Body Fluid.

WIND-COLD: The body’s defensive reaction to a Wind invasion manifested as sneezing, nasal congestion, headache, body aches, slight fever and serious aversion to cold (e.g., the common cold or allergy).

WIND-HEAT: The body’s defensive reaction to a Wind invasion, manifested as sneezing, nasal congestion, thirst, headache, sore throat, body ache, perspiration, fever, and slight aversion to cold (e.g., the common cold or influenza).

WIND STROKE: A very sudden loss of consciousness and/ or paralysis seen in patient suffering a stroke from a blockage of blood to the brain.