Chinese medicine offers a completely different approach to both acute and chronic conditions. The methods of diagnosis include questioning, observing characteristics such as skin color, emotional affect, the qualities of the pulse and tongue, and determining what specific Chinese organ network is affected. While Chinese organ networks sound familiar, they are more representative of a group of functions than the solid organs we typically associate with terms like 'liver' or 'spleen.' To a Chinese medicine practitioner, a western diagnosis is interesting, but has little bearing on the Chinese diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
The defining image of Chinese medicine for most people is that of the acupuncturist's needles extending porcupine-like from a patient's skin. This is indeed a dramatic image, but it represents only a glimpse of the philosophy and practice of the world's oldest intact system of natural healing. The antiquity, beauty, and efficacy of Chinese medicine has drawn western scholars for generations. As modern China sought credibility for its age-old system of medicine, and as westerners have striven to understand it within their own scientific context, each has emphasized only select pieces from the rich tapestry of Chinese medicine.