Going to a TCM doctor for the first time, or anytime, can be a bit intimidating.  You might feel unprepared, think some of the approaches are unorthodox or a bit strange, or just not know what to expect.  Read this post to get acquainted before your first visit.

And then read these 5 questions your doctor will likely ask to aid their diagnosis.  Take the time to observe your body before your appointment so you can answer these questions.  And don’t think the doctor is trying to pry or just asking to make you uncomfortable; the answers to these questions are key to helping you get better.  And the good news is, they’ll get easier each time.

Can I see your tongue? – No, the doctor is not checking your dental work or whether you brushed your teeth.  Tongue diagnosis is critical to the overall diagnosis.  It tells the doctor about your internal organs and particularly about the functioning of your spleen, stomach, and pancreas.

Is your bowel movement normal? And how frequent? – Based on the answers to these questions and your reason for the appointment, the doctor may probe further, including asking about color, shape, hard, dry, formed, greasy, and whether it contains undigested foodstuffs.  All of these things can help indicate the internal condition of the body.

How is your appetite? What do you eat? – If you eat a lot of junk food, now is the time to ‘fess up. If you only eat raw food or are on the Atkins diet, this is important too as it could be the source of your problems.  Be honest and tell the doctor. Not having an appetite can be an indicator, too.

Do you sleep well? – Probably the least awkward question of the bunch, but for some people who work too much or surf the ‘Net all night long, this may be a sore spot.  If your bad habits are making you sick, share them now. Poor or lack of sleep may manifest as pain, reflect digestion problems, or indicate a heart problem.

Are you stressed or under a lot of pressure? – While you make think this is none of the doctor’s business, it is actually a lot more relevant than you expect. TCM believes our emotional state affects our organs’ function, and stress is one part of that.  Read more here.

Bonus, for women: Is your menstruation normal? – For me this is always the most uncomfortable question, even more so than the questions about stool.  The doctor may follow up with questions about amount, length, whether there is blood clumping/clotting, and the smell of discharge between periods .  The answer to these questions helps the doctor treat liver, kidney, digestion, emotional, blood, and infertility problems, as well as pain.

While not necessarily awkward, but still seemingly a bit strange, the doctor might ask, do you have aversion to cold, to wind, or to heat?

Despite how awkward answering these questions may be and how squeamish it may make you just thinking about them, it is soooo important you tune into your body and start noticing things before your appointment. They will be critical to diagnosis and treatment. Now’s the time to confess all your bad habits and explain all the strange going ons in your body. Have patience, don’t get uncomfortable, just answer them calmly and as best as you can and you’ll be well on your way to feeling better soon.