Holistic medicine

Facial diagnosis

Facial diagnosis

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Facial diagnosis sees a person's face as a mirror of their health. This should make it possible to obtain information on existing or impending health problems based on the color and texture of the skin, the location and depth of wrinkles, swellings and other abnormalities. The facial diagnosis is also referred to as face diagnosis / face diagnosis or pathophysiognomy / pathophysiognomics (from Greek "pathos" = suffering, "physis" = body, nature and "gnoma" = characteristics, knowledge) as well as physiognomy / physiognomics. This form of diagnosis is particularly widespread in China, where it is known as "Siang Mien" ("face reading"). Many naturopaths also use the procedure in this country.

Is facial diagnosis scientifically recognized?

From the perspective of conventional medicine (evidence-based medicine), facial diagnosis has not yet been scientifically recognized. Therefore, indications of possible diseases should also be backed up with conventional medicine using other forms of diagnosis.

History of facial diagnosis

Facial diagnosis has a long tradition. The first signs of their use can be found in China. In Europe, scholars such as Socrates (470-399 BC), Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Hippocrates (5th century BC) were also busy reading from faces long before Christ was born. However, the heyday of facial diagnosis in Europe only began about two hundred and fifty years ago.

Carl Huter (1861-1912), a painter by profession, was the best-known founder of modern facial diagnosis. His publications were extremely controversial, especially because of his lack of academic background. He developed his own psycho-physiognomy system, which consists of three different basic naturals, the "sensation naturel", the "movement naturel" and the "nutritional naturel". Psycho-physiognomy connects the body with the soul. This means that with the help of his system it should be possible to read soul states from the face. The three naturels do not occur, or at least only very rarely, in pure form, but occur in diverse mixed forms.

The doctor Dr. is also known for his facial diagnosis. Wilhelm Heinrich Schüßler, the founder of Schüßler salt therapy. He describes the use of the individual Schüßler salts according to certain characters, color changes and shapes of the face.

In modern times, Natale Ferronato became very famous with physiognomy. Natale Ferronato was born in Italy in 1925. Since his mother was a nurse, he was confronted with sick people from an early age. As a young boy, he noticed the connection between diseases and certain discolorations on the facial skin of the affected patients. Throughout his life, he was intensively involved in naturopathy and researched facial diagnosis. He set up a system that divides the face into different zones, which show, for example, metabolic disorders or organ problems. Natale Ferronato founded a school of alternative practitioners in 1993, where he mainly taught physiognomy. His seminars were attended not only by naturopaths, but also by hundreds of doctors.

Facial diagnosis procedure

Facial diagnosis requires thorough knowledge of anatomy and pathophysiology. The patient's face is examined closely without an additional aid. The observations may be transferred to a special diagnostic sheet that shows the different facial zones.

The face is divided into different reflex zones, which is mainly based on the theory of Natale Ferronato. This means that every part of the face is assigned to a specific organ or organ system via nerve tracts. This is how the face is viewed closely. Noticeable colorations, swellings, spots, wrinkles, birthmarks or skin imperfections are recorded in detail in the different zones. This then gives an overall picture.

As an indication diagnosis, the facial diagnosis should give the therapist an indication of chronic or acute illnesses. According to representatives of this diagnostic technique, the harbingers of certain diseases can also announce themselves on the face. Depending on which therapeutic approach is used, conclusions can also be drawn from the face about the mental state. Laboratory examinations, physical examinations and a detailed medical history serve to supplement or safeguard the information obtained through facial diagnosis.

Facial zones in facial diagnosis

Natale Ferronato and others have developed a model according to which the face is divided into different zones. According to the theory of facial diagnosis, if there are any abnormalities in a certain zone, this can provide information about acute or chronic illnesses as well as harbinger of health problems.

The size, shape and color of the nose are assessed. The folds next to the nose, the so-called nasolabial folds, if pronounced on both sides, speak on the basis of this theory for a tendency to stomach problems.

The kidney zone is said to be under the eyes. According to Ferronato, swelling at this point speaks for kidney strain.

The upper eyelids, on the other hand, should indicate, for example, a pronounced need for sleep or simply general nerve strain.

According to Ferronato, the eyebrows are in the hormone reference zone. For example, bushy eyebrows should speak for a good hormonal balance.

According to Ferronato, the cheek area is the heart zone. But sunken cheeks can also be a sign of problems with the stomach and pancreas. Bloated cheeks are a possible indication that the food contains too much protein or fat.

According to Ferronato, a distinction is made in the forehead between the different arrangements of the folds. For example, vertical and horizontal folds, if they occur together, should indicate a weakened liver, for example.

The temples should provide information about how resilient the person is at the moment, whether they are possibly very exhausted, can recover well or carry a massive loss of substance.

The size of the mouth is also taken into account, as is the color and shape of the lips, which can indicate an intestinal disease, for example. Discoloration around the mouth, for example in the color yellow, suggests, according to Ferronato, diseases of the liver and bile. Right next to the corners of the mouth are reflex zones that should indicate the condition of the stomach.

According to Ferronato, pink or red coloring in the chin area can indicate toxin deposits in the bone marrow.

The skin as a whole must be considered for the individual features of the face. Paleness, yellowing, redness, silky skin, cool or hot skin, as well as discoloration in certain areas, flaky, oily or dry skin and blemishes are just a few of the many features that are taken into account in a facial diagnosis.


In order to be able to correctly classify the indications of the health condition obtained in the context of a facial diagnosis, in addition to a solid knowledge of the various facial diagnostic theories, medical training is required. In addition to doctors, state-certified naturopaths in Germany also have extensive knowledge of the human body and diseases. Nevertheless, you should have the diagnoses confirmed, if necessary, by blood analyzes and other tests necessary for clarification. (sw, kh)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Bierbach, Elvira (ed.): Naturopathic practice today. Textbook and atlas. Elsevier GmbH, Urban & Fischer Verlag, Munich, 4th edition 2009.
  • Bergquist, Elisa (2019): Applied Chinese facial diagnosis: Three case studies; in Journal of Chinese Medicine. 33-46, ResearchGate
  • Bridges, Lillian Pearl. (2012). The clinical application of facial diagnosis. 15-20, ResearchGate