Ancient books such as the Nan Jing and Nei Jing dedicate attention to abdominal diagnosis and it is even said in Ch 8 of the Nan Jing that a person could have perfect radial pulses, only to die the next day (Ref. Lore Roger 2005). The abdomen is described in Chapter 8 of the Nan Jing as the site of:
• Origin of vital (Qi);
• (And of) the Triple Burner, which distributes all Ying and Wei (Qi);
• Foundation of all 12 (channels);
• (And) of the (Zang Fu);• Gate of the breath;
• ‘Spirit guarding against evil’;
• A person’s root and foundation (Lore, R. 2005).
Abdominal diagnosis went out of common use due to social taboo’s. At some stage during the Jin-Yuan dynasty abdominal palpation and other diagnostic techniques, such as channel palpation, lost favour as it was thought to be invasive and disrespectful to touch women, especially women of high social standing such as the emperor’s wife (Wang, J, 2013). Japanese Hara diagnosis continued to be used throughout history and has a number of similarities with abdominal diagnostic methods.
The shape of the umbillicus, the general skin texture, tonacity, colour, temperature and presence of nodes or nodules can give vital information to help deliver the best prescription and treatment possible.