View Full Version : Did/do Chinese physicians really smell their patients' feces?
06-29-2003, 01:53 PM
There's a scene in the Bertolucci film The Last Emperor: Two-year-old Pu Yi has just been crowned emperor of China and is spending his first night in the palace. While he is reluctantly having his bath, a court physicians sniffs the crap in Pu Yi's chamber pot and orders, "No bean curd!" Meaning, I presume, that for medical reasons the palace cooks shouldn't feed the emperor any bean curd until further notice.
Did traditional Chinese physicians really use the smell of a patients' feces as a diagnostic tool? Do they still? Would it really provide any useful information? Unlike acupuncture, this practice seems never to have caught on in the West.
06-29-2003, 02:18 PM
I believe that the smell of feces has been and still is used by physicians everywhere.
For exampe: according to Medfriendly.com-- http://www.medfriendly.com/feces.html
[quote]To diagnose various medical problems, feces are often examined for their smell, color, quantity, and consistency...[/b]
06-29-2003, 02:40 PM
I think I'll mention this the next time my grandparents ask me why I didn't become a doctor.
It's certainly common for vets, and conscientious animals owners, to keep on out on what comes out.
Qadgop the Mercotan
06-29-2003, 03:03 PM
Frankly, I don't go around sniffing patient's feces, but I can tell the scent of melanotic stool (digested blood), along with fatty stool, from ordinary stool.
I can also diagnose trichomonas in a female patient by scent alone in a lot of cases (altho I also send it to the lab to make sure).
Anaerobic abscesses are easy to diagnose by smell, as is wet gangrene. And diabetics in keto-acidosis give off a characteristic fruity odor.
Hazard of the profession. Anyone still think we get paid too much? :D
If pay scales are based on the ookiness factor, doctors should be on the low end!
06-29-2003, 09:13 PM
no doctor in China has ever smelled my poop. I'm sure it can happen, but it's not part of the normal exam.
06-29-2003, 10:28 PM
I can smell pretty much what Qadgop can, plus maybe some liver disease, pneumonia, strep throat and urine infections. If I'm going to smell a patient's stool, though, they'd probably need to be on their way to a more glamorous "throne" than the one you're heading for :).
06-30-2003, 02:50 AM
Seems perfectly reasonable to me. Smell can be an incredibly useful diagnostic tool. I can diagnose parvo or other HGE's by smell, as well as parasite infestations, yeast infection of the ears, hotspots and other skin ailments. Heck, one of the women I work with can usually tell you what type of parasites an animal has just by smelling the poop. I can usually only recognize coccidia smell, though.
06-30-2003, 03:05 AM
and i know when a person have had papaya..
I saw a Dateline special.... or maybe it was 20/20, where women suffering from breast cancer were seen by a Chinese doctor. he was dressed as a buddhist monk, I remember.
Part of his examination included stirring the women's urine sample and smelling it, as well as noting it's foamabitlity or lack there of.
He didn't use the aid of a mamoghram or biopsy, and then proceeded to give them herbs and special diets.
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