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What does your pulse say about you?

Updated: May 11, 2021

Have you ever had your Chinese Medicine practitioner taken your pulse and discover amazing things about your health and symptoms? Here is how it works….

Traditional Chinese Medicine is at least 2,200 years old and as such this practice is based more on physical observations. Whilst modern technology has allowed for all sorts of scans and lab tests to be performed, there is still an important role to be played by traditional forms of diagnoses which involve; observation of skin colour and texture, palpation, listening to vibration and tone of the voice, and equally important are the pulse taking and tongue diagnosis.

How diagnoses are made in TCM?

Observation and palpation give practitioners an indication of which organ and meridian is affected, thereby enabling us to discover the source of a health condition.

It takes years to master pulse-taking and even advanced practitioners agree that it is something you never stop learning.

For the sake of everyone reading this article, I will keep it basic as advanced pulse taking is more thorough and can employ a different methodology than the one described below.

How is the pulse taken?

The pulse is taken on both the left and right wrists over the radial artery, with each side having 3 different points of measure. By positioning the three middle fingers close to the wrist we cover these 3 points.

Now, this is where it gets trickier. Each one of these 3 positions are further divided in 3 levels of depth; superficial, middle, and deep. And that is the reason we change pressure when we palpate, as we need to access all 3 levels of depth.

Based on this, we now have 18 different regions to assess and some of them correlates to a different organ or area of the body. Depending on the quantity and quality of the pulse, as well as their rhythm, we can identify the internal state of the body, which often explains the clinical manifestations presented (symptoms).

Some pulses are strong and some are weak, some are constrained and some flow easily, some are irregular and some are…. Very deep and almost hard to find.

What does it tell us?

Based on the strength and quality of the pulses, we can even predict some symptoms before the patient even discloses them to us.

The more we know about the pulse qualities, the more we are able to identify imbalances in the body such as; sleep issues, anxiety, depression, digestion issues, past childhood illnesses, allergies, moods, and even when a person is about to get sick from a cold or flu before symptoms appear.

Whilst this form of diagnosis should never replace or override a Western medical diagnosis, it is a remarkable tool that allows us to fine-tune our diagnoses and ultimately provide the right treatment for the individual.

In short, a Chinese medicine practitioner who is skilled in pulse taking, can attain astounding diagnoses.

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