Pulse Diagnosis

The art of reading the pulses is the central diagnostic technique of Oriental Medicine and in many ways shapes the whole character of its practice.

So how does pulse diagnosis work? In essence we are listening to dynamics of the heart as it circulates blood throughout the body. This is the life of the body. It is resonant, it vibrates, it has a rhythm, a set of frequencies which can be felt and listened to. We can also say that the pulse is holographic because each part of the body reflects the whole. Just as a good mechanic can listen to a car engine and pick up disharmonies and wobbles and determine what is wrong with the engine, so too can a physician pick up disharmonies in the whole body by “listening” to the feel of the pulse.

When taking the pulses, a Chinese Medicine doctor is not only measuring the pulse rate but also strength, depth, texture, rhythm, pulse and volume. If someone’s pulse is obviously soft or empty or quiet, you can be sure that this person has a Deficiency condition; if their pulse is full or loud, they have an Excess condition.  A rapid pulse corresponds to Heat; a slow pulse corresponds to Cold.  A superficial pulse corresponds to an Exterior condition and a deep pulse corresponds to an Interior condition. With this framework alone we can draw significant and immediate information which will help build a diagnosis.

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