If there is one area of modern medicine that has to be lauded it is the advance in diagnostic investigation and technique. Whether it is through indirect means such as a blood test or direct visualization through ultrasound or endoscopy, the ability of today’s doctors to diagnose a problem is incomparable with the options available even only 50 years ago. Computers are creating an ever more rapid advance on our diagnostic capabilities.

Unfortunately, in this technological rush much bedside manner and clinical diagnostic abilities seem to be diminishing. It is quite feasible for a doctor to make accurate diagnoses without touching the patient, and with the advent of television screen consultations, the doctors need not even be in the same country.

From an orthodox point of view this may not be a problem because diagnosis is generally superficial, with most concern being paid to the immediate cause of a symptom rather than any long-term, underlying cause of an illness. The holistic view has to be that modern diagnostic techniques need to be integrated with clinical examination, experience, intuition and ‘sixth sense’. This abstract concept is probably closely linked with an individual’s healing ability. There is no lack of evidence that healing exists and even the most interventional surgeons may have part of their success manifested by their innate, but not consciously accepted, healing ability.

A holistic physician will take a patient through four stages of examination.





There should be no difference whether you are visiting an acupuncturist or a yoga teacher. These four stages should be considered to the best of the practitioner’s ability.

Some aspects of a diagnostic consultation may be awkward for both the practitioner and the patient. Complementary medical practitioners integrate observation far more into the diagnosis than orthodox physicians and it is not unusual to find the consulting room of an osteopath or chiropractor without a screen behind which a patient may undress. The practitioner may sit and watch, which can be quite embarrassing and unnerving for a patient. A sensitive therapist will explain the reasons for doing so but as many do not, I have done so in the sections below.

Questions will be asked, the answers to which may not even be known to your spouse or best friend and the concept of even discussing these matters may be at least embarrassing and at most shocking. The relevance of some questions will defeat immediate logic but a practitioner with a knowledge of mind-body energy and medicine will need to know your state of mind even if you only have a fungal infection of your toe nail. Questions about gynaecological matters may be asked when the complaint is about depression. There is generally a reason for these connections even if they are not apparent.

An examination should be complete. Every part of the body is linked directly or indirectly with every other part and any practitioner using meridian or Hara diagnoses will examine the abdomen, back and limbs even if the problem is associated with the nostril. Intimate examination is generally not required unless the problem is associated with that area. Traditional Chinese practitioners, especially those of a particular school, may not allow any conversation from the patient. The little ivory statuettes often found as ornaments here in the West were originally designed for the patient to point to the part that hurts or is afflicted. The practitioner would, from tongue and pulse diagnosis only, make a full diagnosis and offer treatment. This too may be done in silence, simply writing out the script and handing it to the patient who takes it to an assistant. This attitude is not accepted by the Western patient and with so much media coverage of alternative medicine, individuals are, quite rightly, asking questions and demanding to know the basis of the suggested treatment.

Do not hesitate to ask a practitioner why they are watching, asking or examining any part of your mind-body space. No practitioner should object, although some may prefer silence.

If you do not ‘click’ with your practitioner, discuss your difficulties or change your practitioner. Healing is far more likely to take place in the hands of someone you like and trust.

Do not be put off by the thought of examination and investigation. Burying your head in the sand may delay the diagnosis of an underlying condition and hinder the choice of a correct treatment programme.

Leave your inhibitions at home. Discuss your condition fully and frankly and answer any questions, however odd or irrelevant they may seem.


All practitioners of healthcare will start their examination as soon as you enter the consulting room or they meet you in the waiting room. They will be watching the way you walk or how you sit, establishing any obvious structural irregularity. Attention will be paid to the quality of the hair, skin and eyes and even to the choice of the colour of clothes. Sallow or pale complexion, jaundiced eyes and the way that an individual may walk into a consultation, perhaps with a limp, are examples of how an initial observation will guide the practitioner to diagnoses. A psychological case of depression or anxiety may be reflected in somebody choosing to wear black and even the type of clothes may be covering up anorexia or obesity.

Aura reading

The aura is a fuzz around the body. Anybody can be taught to read an aura. There is nothing mystical or magical about this. There is a skill in associating what is seen with underlying illness, but this too is taught and learned through experience.

Most of us are subconsciously aware of an aura and this manifests in several ways. We have all walked into a room and instantly ‘clicked’ with someone as our auras match. Auras have a sense of a colour , which is why some people suit certain colours. We all have an awareness, especially of those close to us, if something is not right with an individual. It is not just about their lack of a smile or a glint in the eye, it is a feeling or sensation that we cannot explain. Instinct would be a suitable label. Whilst the aura is generally seen within a few inches of the body, its ability to transmit may have no boundaries. An instant attraction across a room is liable to be the joining or meeting of two sympathetic wavelengths and the term ‘telepathy’ may also be part of the aura. Have we not all experienced an absolute certainty of the telephone being about to ring only to find that your best friend calls that instant.

The aura is yet to be measured to the satisfaction of the orthodox scientific world. As it is part of the vital force I doubt if we will be able to measure this field of energy in the near future. Kirlian photography is the process of taking pictures of energy radiating in spikes from the surface of the body. Unlike highly sophisticated orthodox medical technology, which can measure heat, the Kirlian photograph can sense not only temperature but also other electromagnetic fields. This is the closest, I believe, that we may get to converting the energy of the aura into a two- or three-dimensional picture.

Those who read auras are capable of seeing colours and use this to establish general health or they compare the aura to the superficial points known as meridians or energy channels that travel through the body.

A ‘black’ area is often seen above the head in depression because energy fails to pass through the chakra and reach the top of the body. If an aura is diminished along a meridian, a dip will be noticed.

Aura reading is a useful tool when considered with other diagnostic techniques but should not be an acceptable form of diagnosis on its own.

Learning to read the aura

The first step is to be able to visualize it. Take a cardboard box and line it with a black material. Place the box on a table with a candle behind it and close the room off from external light as much as possible. Training should start at night.

Place your hand in the box and your hand should appear to have a small fuzz around it. This may only be one to two centimetres in width and may in fact blend in between the digits. If nothing can be seen, light another candle and continue to brighten the room from behind the box until this fuzz is noticed. Try to focus on the energy layer and appreciate the amount of defocusing that is necessary. When you feel confident, start examining other parts of the body using the same principle of keeping the candle light shielded from the area examined.

Next, ask a friend or relative if you can examine their hand and after a short while you will be able to focus the eyes immediately on an aura by meeting somebody in a darkened room. Eventually, with practice, auras can be seen in any light, although in a darkened room will always be easier.

You may see or sense a colour in an aura and this colour will generally reflect the individual’s health. If they are well then this is probably the colour of their aura. If they are not then the colour may change as they improve . There is no colour that is healthier or unhealthier but as a general rule brightness reflects well-being. There is some correlation with the colours green and yellow producing a soothing effect on the brain , but whether this means that a yellow/green aura is a healthy one I cannot comment.

To use this technique in a diagnostic manner requires an individual practitioner to correlate the aura with energy meridians or channels and also to have a sound anatomical knowledge.

The eyes

The colour of the sclera and the general sparkle can give both orthodox and instinctive clues. Do not be put off or embarrassed by a practitioner who seems to be staring intently at your eyes. See Iridology for a discussion of the iris.

Medical practitioners will examine the back of the eye, known as the fundus, with an ophthalmoscope. Blood vessels are clearly visible at the back of the eye and give the observer information on the patency of vessels in general. High blood pressure causes the arterial wall to thicken and this shows up under an ophthalmoscope as a ‘railway track’ appearance.

The tongue ‘Show me your tongue’ is a popular phrase amongst TV doctors and is occasionally muttered by the orthodox practitioners. Its colour, moisture and the amount of fur may convey a little knowledge to a Western-trained physician, who will simply use this to confirm a previously considered diagnosis.

Ayurvedic, Chinese and Tibetan practitioners will all pay marked attention to the tongue.In Ayurveda the main organs of the body are actually mapped out on the tongue and patches may represent an energy lack or excess within an organ or system.

Other areas of examination

The Eastern philosophies will pay attention to most parts of the body in their observation of a patient. Ayurvedic and Tibetan physicians can glean a lot of information from the face. Examples are: dark circles under the eyes – deficient kidney Qi; puffiness – kidney/spleen; uneven features -long-term Yin/Yang imbalance.

The hands tell many stories. The colour of the nail beds, ridging or discolouration of the nails themselves, the dryness or moisture and the muscularity of the hands give many clues. The feet are equally informative.

The structure of the back, the balance of the shoulders and the pelvis are all important clues to the possible underlying cause of disease.

When visiting a practitioner, avoid wearing makeup or nail varnish and select clothes that you would normally wear. Do not try to appear to be what you think a physician would expect, but when you enter the consulting room be your normal self.

Whilst basic cleanliness and hygiene must not be shirked, do not apply deodorants or strong-smelling cologne or aftershave. The smell of an individual can be demonstrative of any underlying illness and part of observation is body odour.