A Doctor with X-Ray Eyes

May 13, 2013 Trisha Han Uncategorized

About 2,500 years ago, China was divided into seven countries—Qi was one of them.

Emperor Huan of Qi once invited the famous doctor Bian-Que to his palace as a guest.

When Bian-Que saw the emperor, he studied his face for a moment and said: “Sir, you are ill. Right now it’s just under the skin. If you don’t treat it now, the disease shall go deeper.”

Emperor Huan, reluctant to believe, answered, “I do not have any illness.”

Then Bian-Que left. Emperor Huan was slightly annoyed, and told the people around him, “I know doctors.  They just love to treat healthy people in order to make easy money and get easy fame.”

Five days later, Bian-Que visited Emperor Huan again and told him, “Sir, you are ill. It is in your circulatory system now. If you don’t treat now, it will go deeper.”

Emperor Huan again answered him, “I do not have any illness.”

Bian-Que had no choice but to leave. Emperor Huan was extremely displeased.  Five days later, Bian-Que visited again and told him, “Sir, you are ill. The disease is between your stomach and intestines. If you don’t treat it now, it is going to go deeper.”

Sir Huan did not answer him, and did not believe him, so Bian-Que left.

Another five days passed, and Bian-que visited again, but he turned around and left as soon as he saw Emperor Huan. Emperor Huan sent a man after him to ask him why he had left so soon. Bian-Que answered, “When the disease is in the skin, decocted herbs and plasters can reach it. When it is in the blood vessels, acupuncture needles can reach it. When it is between the stomach and intestines, herbal tea formulas can reach it. But when the disease goes into the bone, even God cannot do anything about it. Now his illness is in his bones; that is why I do not have any useful advice for him.”

Five days later, Emperor Huan fell ill and he sent a man to find Bian-Que to cure him, but Bian-Que, knowing that the emperor was already beyond his help, had already left the country.  Emperor Huan eventually died.

You may be curious how Bian-Que could discern Emperor Huan’s illness just by looking at him. Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors rely on the following four diagnosis methods:

  1. Observing the patient’s appearance, including face, tongue, etc.
  2. Observing any outward odors and listening to the patient’s sounds (voice, cough, breathing, groaning, etc).
  3. Asking the patient questions about their habits, feelings and lifestyle.
  4. Feeling the patient’s pulse.

An exceptional doctor is able to tell you your problem just by the first step – observing your appearances—and that’s exactly what Doctor Bian-Que did. That’s why many people in China think that he had X-ray eyes.

After reading this story, please don’t expect the same exceptional and quick diagnosis when you visit a local oriental medicine doctor like me. After all, doctors like Bian-Que are rare in today’s world. Plus, not all of our problems will be reflected in our appearances alone. That’s why we check your tongue, your pulses and ask detailed questions about your life style. Please be patient with your oriental medicine doctor.

Once, a patient asked me: “Why don’t you use modern diagnostic equipment to find my problems instead of asking me so many trivial questions?”  The fact is that many health problems cannot be detected by any type of medical equipment. For example, we have successfully pinpointed the source of many cases of cough, headache, migraine, diarrhea, shoulder pain, sciatic nerve pain, gynecological disorder, etc. Many of these patients have been to a Western doctor and no specific disease was found.

Let’s take cough as an example; each of our major five organs—heart, lungs, kidneys, spleen and liver–can be the source of a cough. There’s no way to know which one caused the problem without the correct diagnosis. That’s why there is an old saying in China: “Shrewd doctors stay away from coughs”. That means that coughs are such tough cases to tackle, that doctors tend to avoid them in order to protect his or her reputation. I had a patient had his chronic cough cured after refraining from eating his favorite food, chile relleno; another patient no longer had migraines after ceasing to use ceiling fan while asleep. One patient was cured of her diarrhea after abstaining from drinking iced water in the morning, while another woman finally got pregnant after quitting coffee.

These all appear to be overly simple solutions, but you may be surprised to hear that each of them had been suffering for years, all because of a small, seemingly innocuous habit in their lifestyles. Certainly, acupuncture and herbal medicine helped them, but doctors are often helpless unless patients are ready to answer questions about their daily routines, and willing to change their routines as well. So, again, be patient with your oriental medicine doctor as he or she tries to help you.  It is normal that good doctors ask you a lot of questions—unless, of course, he or she is Bian Que.


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