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An Overview of Chinese Medicine
By Paul Zabwodski

Pulse Diagnosis in Acupuncture


The early pulse diagnosis method dates back to medical texts appearing in the Nei Ching Chih Yao 1642 AAD where the idea of the 3 Finger Position of each wrist was described in detail to obtain diagnostic information.

TCM has several effective diagnostic methods which are used in Herbology, Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Qi-gong breathing exercises.

The first to be considered is Pulse diagnosis.

In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) there are six pulses can be examined by palpation of the radial artery in the following manner:In the first paired pulse the method is to ascertain the sensation felt at the fingertips When one presses lightly with the fingertip, the artery is located very superficially, as if floating. By pressing hard, the pulse often disappears. If the pulse is "floating" and a. "Floating" Pulse "full," then the disease is considered to be due to external causes. If the pulse is "floating" but fenceless, then it is considered to be "emptiness" called "Yang Qi." The disease is located superficially.

Second Paired Pulse is known as the "Sunken" Pulse.

Here one palpates the artery to uncover the deeper under the skin pulse sensation.. When touching lightly, it is diffcult to feel, but by pressing harder, the pulse can be felt. The pulse is considered to belong to the "Yin" or "Deep" category, indicesing that the disease is located deep inside the body. .

"Very Slow" Pulse

This usually indicates "Yin Emptiness. Or if the "Slow" Pulse is very slow but powerful, then the patient may have pain. Those who have a very slow pulse teat is very weak may have itching on various parts of the body surface. The influence of a body clock or bio-rhythms were also employed in pulse diagnosis see diagram below




Diagram of the  flow of chi -biological clock











"Rapid" Pulse

According to the classical concept, even 6O pulses per second could be a "rapid" pulse if the patient has a very slow rate of respiration. This is "Yin Fullness"; some "rapid" pulses are considered to be due to inner fever.

"Empty" Pulse

By palpation, the pulse feels very weak. It appears to be either "Floating" or "Sunken" or "Very Slow" a. "Empty" Pulse or "Rapid." This pulse corresponds to the "Emptiness" of the "Qi" or "Emptiness" of the "Blood" or "Yang Emptyness," etc.

"Full" Pulse

One gets a powerful strong sensation by palpating the pulse. It can appear along with either "Floating" or . "Full" Pulse" or "Sunken" or "Slow" or "Rapid" pulses. This pulse is considered to correspond to "Fullness," particularly to "Fullness of Evil Qi."



How did one time the Pulse.

In pulse diagnosis, arround the time that these classics were written, there was no convenient timing device which the physician could carry. The only devices commonly used before the 12th century A.D. were the sundial, hourglass, water clock, and burning string clock, none of which were practical in timing a patient's pulse. Therefore, the physicians used the respiratory rate of the patient as a timing device for comparing pulse rates. Since the physician did not have any actual timing device, they used their own radial pulse as a timing device to create some sort of base standard of time.


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