Feeling the Pulse
Chinese medicine holds the theory that the physiological and pathological states of the internal organs manifest on the outside of the body. Changes may be visible in the complexion, felt when palpating the acupuncture channels, or detected when taking the pulse. When taking the pulse one is detecting the state of Qì 气, Blood 血, Yīn 阴, and Yáng 阳 of the internal organs. There are three different pulse positions taken at the wrist along the radial artery and three different depths to each position. Each position and each wrist reflects the state of different internal organs. When taking the pulse one is feeling for the rate of the pulse as well as the size and shape of the vessel, at what depth it is felt at, and how the pulse feels when it hits the fingers. A normal pulse feels gentle, calm, soft but with strength, not too big or too small, and with a regularity to the pulse beating around four times per respiratory cycle. A pathological change in the state of Qì, Blood, Yīn, and Yáng of the internal organs may present as a pulse that is too fast, too slow, too hard, too soft, too deep, too superficial, too thin, too large, and so on. For example, if a pulse has a Rapid rate (Shuò Mài 數脈) we are looking at some kind of Heat (Rè 热) within the body, whereas a pulse that is too Slow (Chí Mài 遲脈) indicates the presence of Cold (Hán 寒) in the body. If the pulse is felt with a very light touch this is called a Floating pulse (Fú Mài 浮脈) and is usually present in an "exterior" syndrome such as the common cold which is seen as an external climatic factor invading the exterior levels of the body. In this case the pulse is felt at the superficial level indicating that the Qì to defend the body and fight the pathogen is meeting the pathogen at the exterior of the body to expel it. Or if the pulse is Thready (Xì Mài 細脈) and feels like a thin, thread-like yet distinct and straight vessel, it may be indicating that Blood is not abundantly filling up the vessel, showing us a deficiency (Xū 虚) in the body. Pulse diagnosis is a vast subject with many books written entirely on this subject. This is just a small window into what a Chinese medicine practitioner is feeling for when they place their fingers on your pulse.
In health and happiness,
Disclaimer: Any information on this website or blog post should not be used for self-diagnosis or substitute for medical advice. Please always seek advice from a qualitied health practitioner for any health concerns.