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  • Traditional Chinese Medecine: Pulse Measuring
  • Maika Endo

Traditional Chinese Medecine: Pulse Measuring

In Traditional Chinese Medecine the pulse analysis is one of the first things a therapist does before starting his therapy. Pulse diagnosis can give very detailed information on the state of the internal organs. It reflects the whole complex of Qi, Blood Yin, Yang as well as the entire body. Thanks to pulse measuring the doctor or therapist gets information about the overall consitution of a person. The pulse is measured by his depth, by frequency and by quality / shape. I.e. if you feel your pulse at the superficial level, it gives information about the external conditions you are exposed to like heat or cold. For the interior conditions the therapist will feel on a deeper level, which allows to feel an internal heat, cold or  internal damp. Dr. Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D. (China) gives a very interesting description on how to measure the pulse in the traditional chinese medecine way:
We take the pulse on the radial artery, dividing it into three sections on the wrist and detecting it at three different levels. The three wrist sections of the pulse on the radial artery are the front, middle and rear, respectively. The three levels are superficial (pressing lightly), middle (pressing a little deeper) and deep (pressing even deeper). The three levels at each of the three sections on the wrist are referred to as the “Nine Regions.”


 FRONT: LUNGS / LARGE INTESTINE MIDDLE: SPLEEN / STOMACH REAR: GATE OF Vitality FIRE Each pulse position can reflect different phenomena in different situations. For example, in a state of health, the left middle pulse (Liver) will be relatively soft and smooth, neither superficial nor deep. Therefore, we can say the liver and gall bladder energies are balanced or that the Yin and Yang within the Liver/Gall Bladder sphere are balanced. If a patient is experiencing migraine headaches and her pulse feels wiry (harder or tighter than normal) and more superficial and pounding, then we may diagnose this as Excessive Liver Fire (Yang) Rising (up the Gall Bladder channel to the head). The pulse reflects the rising energy. Again, the pulse is assessed at three different depths: a superficial, middle and deep level. These three levels of the pulse give an immediate idea of the level of Qi in the pulse and, therefore, the kind of pathological condition that might be present. In particular, the superficial level reflects the state of Qi (and the yang organ); the middle level reflects the state of Blood; the deep level reflects the state of Yin (and yin organs). Thus, by examining the strength and quality of the pulse at these three levels, we get a better idea of the pathology of Qi, Blood and Yin, and of the relative state of Yin and Yang. [hr]

Sources & More Information THE SIGNIFICANCE OF TRADITIONAL PULSE DIAGNOSIS IN THE MODERN PRACTICE OF CHINESE MEDICINE Essay by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon (detailed essay about the history, pulse categories, methods) Ying Yang House