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What is Pulse Diagnosis?

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

What is Modern Pulse Diagnosis?

Modern pulse diagnosis is an incredibly accurate tool used in Chinese medicine to identify the root cause of your health conditions. Pulse diagnosis can reveal both western medical diseases (i.e. fatty liver, congestive heart failure, gallstones, diabetes, etc.) as well as Chinese medical patterns that are causing these problems. We use this information to guide your herbal treatment to not only alleviate your symptoms but actually fix the broken mechanism that is causing them.

What are we feeling when we assess your pulse?

When feeling a patient’s pulse, people often think we are just counting the beats. Pulse diagnosis goes far beyond the pulse rate. With pulse diagnosis, the practitioner’s fingers are placed in very specific locations on the radial artery that directly correspond to different organs or areas of the body. On the left side of the pulse we can assess the function of your heart, diaphragm, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, reproductive organs, adrenal glands, lower back, knees, ankles and feet. The right side of the pulse reveals information about your sinuses, lungs, thyroid, throat, stomach, pancreas, bladder, shoulders and neck.

What the practioner feels for is whether the radial artery in each area of the pulse is too thick or too thin, too superficial or too deep, too strong or too weak, convex or concave, too short or too long, etc. Each piece of information gathered from each area of the pulse reveals information about the functioning of an individual organ or structure of the body. By assessing blood flow through the radial artery at each position, we can tell if there is a weakness, blockage, inflammation or constriction affecting the function of your organs or areas of the body.

For example, if there is a blockage in your heart, the practitioner will feel a deep, muddy sensation in the heart position of the radial artery. Without proper treatment, this may lead to heart disease (if not already present). Many of these patients will complain of anxiety, fatigue, insomnia or heart palpitations which are early signs of heart disease, and some won’t have any symptoms at all. With this information, we can then prescribe herbs to open up the blood vessels of the heart and improve blood flow to improve heart function both to treat and prevent heart disease.

The amazing thing about pulse diagnosis is that we can treat problems even before they manifest as symptoms. One of my first patients in practice was proof of this. Upon taking his pulse I asked “have you ever had bronchitis?”, to which he replied “no”. The following week he called the office to cancel his appointment and came in the next week apologizing that he missed his appointment because he had bronchitis!

The pulse is a true measurement of your health. It is Chinese medicine's equivalent to a blood test, measuring the functioning of your body. Any deviation from the normal pulse means there is something wrong that needs to be fixed. With pulse diagnosis, we are also able to monitor your treatment progress. As your pulses improve, the underlying problem is being fixed and your symptoms and overall health improve. Once your pulses are normal, you are in an optimal state of health.

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