Four Examinations: Stage 2 – Listening/Smelling

Foundations of Chinese Medicine (continued) – The Four Examinations

The four examinations are:-

1. Inspection/looking

2. Listening and smelling

3. Inquiry/asking

4. Palpation/touching

This week I will focus on stage 2 – Listening and smelling

Listening and smelling

This stage covers the voice, speech, breathing, sounds and odours from our bodies.

Listening to sounds

The voice reflects the harmony of the Qi and Blood. For example a shouting voice indicates a Liver disharmony, reluctance to talk a cold pattern and incessant talking a heat pattern. A dry cough with no sputum indicates dryness and a dry cough after a prolonged illness a deficiency in the Lung system.

Smelling odours

According to the Five Element theory a rancid smell corresponds to the Liver, a burned smell to the Heart, a sweet smell to the Spleen, a rank smell to the Lung and a putrid smell to the Kidney. That is why it is useful for people to not use strongly scented deodorant, body lotion, perfume or aftershave when visiting a Chinese medicine practitioner. You will also be asked about the smell of your bodily excretions. For example strong smelling urine can indicate heat and or dampness.

Next week I will discuss inquiry/asking.

Review of my week

It has felt like a long week this week and I don’t feel the weather has helped. Autumn is well and truly here.  Autumn is linked to the metal element. It is a time for the leaves on the trees and plants to become golden, to dry and to drop to the earth. What has fallen contains seeds and nutrients to hibernate through winter and then generate growth in spring. This is a yin phase in the growth cycle. It is a time to reflect on the past year and to
prepare for the winter months. Dryness is the climatic element of autumn.
External dryness invades the body through the nose and mouth and can affect the
functioning of the Lung system. Signs of dryness are a dry mouth, hair, lips, nose, throat, skin, a dry cough and constipation. It is a time to protect the back of our neck from winds otherwise you will be more susceptible to coughs and colds.

What did I learn?

I discovered an online support group for anyone experiencing emotional distress. The group was founded in 2009 and its aim is to help each other and to raise awareness in making mental health problems more positive. Simply search ‘making mental health positive’ in Facebook or e-mail for more information.

Another useful publication is ‘Marooned’ ( produced by Cromwell House in Salford.

With the current cuts in NHS, mental health services are a key area likely to suffer. It is vital that there is continuing on-going support for people who have mental health problems. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental disorders in the UK. Figures show that at least 9% of the adult population are affected by a mix of anxiety
and depression. 1/5 of working days are lost each year due to anxiety and depression. We need to remove the stigma attached to mental health. It affects us all. For more information go to the Mental Health Foundation website: Another good site is:

I also work at Start in Salford (, which is a charitable organisation supporting people experiencing emotional distress in Salford. Why not consider becoming a ‘friend’ of Start? This could be a great present for someone at Christmas. As with any charitable organisation Start relies on donations and
financial sponsorship. For details visit their website. Or if you would like to join call 0161 351 6000.

Speak to you soon.

Lorraine x

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