One of the things the Inner Canon tells us is that to treat illness one must trace the root cause of the illness. For those who practice yi, the root causes of all illnesses invariably lie within the bounds of the yin or yang of the wuxing organs being out of step with the yinyang transformations of heaven and earth. Sometimes, however, a patient’s symptoms may indicate a yinyang disorder in one of the wuxing organs while the actual root cause is in another wuxing organ. At other times, the patient may have some conditions that they are unaware of, therefore, in every consultation, we need to have a thorough check of each of the wuxing organs. For each of the wuxing organs we need to ask questions about both the yin and yang conditions.
To begin, we might ask whether the patient feels hot or cold. This will indicate the patient’s kidney water heat reserve or kidney water yang condition. Then a question about whether the patient’s urine is clear, will indicate the kidney water yin condition.
Questioning whether the patient has a good appetite, helps to determine the patient’s soil yin condition (as the yin of the soil organ governs receiving food). A question as to whether the patient feels bloated, helps to determine the yang condition of the soil organ.
Asking the patient whether there was any dryness of the mouth, indicates the yin condition of the metal organ (as lung metal gathers moistness and qi). A question about whether the patient has mucus, indicates the yang of the metal organ (as the yang of lung metal organ governs the purification of moistness).
Asking whether the patient has any rash or itchy skin, helps to determine the liver wood yang condition (as the liver wood yang keeps things erect, such as blood vessels, so blood flow freely and the blood remains clean). Then we may question whether the patient feels any tightness of the body and this indicates the wood organ yin condition.
If we then question of whether the patient sleeps well will identify the heart fire yin condition. Questioning whether the patient feels motivated in doing things, will identify the fire organ’s yang condition.
Although, symptoms sometimes can be misleading, as patients may not pay much attention to these conditions, taking the pulse and looking at the tongue, skin complexion etc., can be the final determinants for whether the other information that you have collected is reliable.