Six Channel Diagnosis Study
By: Dr. Tamara Ramirez​

October, 2014

The six-channel diagnosis is based in the nature of yin/yang, the nature of the five elements, the four times, the heaven qi and the six channels.  The six channels correspond to heaven six qi, which are similar to climates or weather conditions: Wind, Heat, Summer-Heat, Damp, dry and Cold.  And behind six channels are five elements that need to guide zang-fu organs to follow their nature.  The essence that is stored by the five elements presents as the four qi of temperatures.  All treatment principles follow nature and they go against the manifestation.  In order for the patient to maintain health one needs to follow the seasons.  That can be referred to the acupuncture treatment and nutrition.  For example summer pertain to fire element, if there is cold in the summer is known as qi arriving at wrong time and it’s called evil Qi.  During summer the acupuncture insertion must be superficial, and the retention of the needle shorter.  Since the environment is warm, patient must be support with lots of fluids, instead of eating spicy and fried food, patient can be recommended to eat more yin nourishing food.

Shang Han Lun explains that human body generation comes from heaven qi and the body skin is body heaven.  In other words heaven feeds men by oxygen.  That can be compared with yang qi that creates generation.  Skin has a constant communication with the exterior and can be our first protection against pathogens entering to the body.  Without heaven protection man can’t be healthy and in complete balance.

Each Qi represents two months of the year and have a yin/yang nature/relationship.  Since the yin/yang represents the nature of opposition they cannot be mixed or combined.  For example you can have a patient suffering from wind cold in winter season but you can’t have someone with heat cold in summer season.  You can’t mix qi with yin/yang relationship.  Qi can be divided into two categories the four Qi and the six Qi.  The four Qi corresponds to generation, growing, storing and hiding.  The six channels are similar to climates and govern the 4 Qi.  For example wind governs generation; animals found each other by smell, without wind the smell cant get nowhere and the animals would not be able to find each other. 

When combining five elements with the six Qi is important to differentiate both.  Contrary to the visible five elements that comes from the 5 directions and are used for storing essence and transform Qi; Qi is invisible.  While the five elements can be described has five different movements with specific interactions between them, Qi can only be figure it out by feeling. 


  1. Shang Han Lun (On Cold Damage), Translation & Commentaries by Zhongjing Zhang, Feng Ye, Nigel Wiseman, Craig Mitchell, Ye Feng. Paradigm Press 2000 
  2. Macciocia (1994): The Practice of Chinese Medicine: The treatment of disease with Acupuncture and Chinese herbs.  New York: Churchill Livingstone 
  3. Xinnong (1999).  Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion.  Beijing: Foreign Languages Press