Patterns of Disharmony (Part 2): About Acupuncture Assessmentby Thomas E. Turpen, MS, R.Ac. on 09/01/11
Occasionally a patient will go on the internet to look up more information about their particular syndrome only to be terrified that they might have something seriously wrong with them. They will read all the different diseases associated with their syndrome; and this once again relates to another aspect of what a syndrome is. It is important to know that a syndrome (i.e. a pattern of disharmony) can manifest as any number of different diseases [or dis-eases]; or it may have not reached the morbid stage where there is any disease at all. The syndrome may only be one's constitutional tendency towards certain health problems. For example, let's take the syndrome, "Kidney Yang Deficiency." Kidney Yang Deficiency may show up as the pattern of disharmony for any number of health issues from erectile dysfunction, lower back pain that is unassociated with an injury, or fibromyalgia. Just because someone has this syndrome does not mean that they will have any of these diseases or even that there is a tendency towards any of these problems. It may simply be one's constitutional makeup and that they may have a tendency to things like cold hands and feet with occasional low back pain and fatigue.
Not only can one syndrome manifest as any number of different dis-eases, but one disease can be differentiated into a number of different syndromes. Let's take the common cold for example. Let's say that three people come into my office, each with the common cold. Cooper has a slight fever, aversion to cold, runny nose with yellow discharge, sore throat with swollen tonsils. Upon further inquiry, we find that his urine has been darker lately and that he has been particularly thirsty. We look at his tongue and find it to be slightly red on the sides and the front; and we take his pulse and find it to have a floating, rapid quality. Sarah comes into my office later that morning, and she has a cold as well. However, her symptoms are a slight fever, aversion to cold, runny nose with a white discharge, stiff neck, body aches, and sneezing. While her tongue doesn't show any different changes from any previous visit, her pulse has a floating and tight quality. After lunch Jimmy comes into my office. Wouldn't you know it? He has a cold as well. But Jimmy's symptoms are different. While he also has an aversion to cold and a slight fever, he also complains of a dryness of the nose, mouth, and throat. He is sweating slightly and has a dry cough. His tongue is slightly red in the front and a bit dry while his pulse has a floating quality.
Each of these patients have the same disease -- the common cold. However each also has a different syndrome. Cooper's syndrome is called Wind-Heat, Sarah's is called Wind-Cold, and Jimmy's is called Wind-Dryness. Because each of these syndromes is different, each patient would be treated differently with different acupuncture points and such. In this case, the syndrome differentiation serves to further refine the treatment to better suit the patient.