The Normal Pulse


The Normal Pulse

The normal pulse is defined as:

  • neither deep nor superficial,
  • wide nor thin,
  • forceful nor forceless,
  • with a regular rhythm,
  • between 60-90 beats per minute.

So, the normal pulse may not stand out because it is pretty well defined as the pulse that “lacks pathological qualities” which is like saying that health is the absence of disease.

One laozhongyi (elder CM practitioner) suggested that the normal pulse should have the energy of all five elements evident. These break down as follows:

  • fire element: a regular pulse rhythm
  • earth element: gentle pulsations (also known as having “Stomach qi” or slightly slippery)
  • metal element: pulse reaches to the superficial level
  • water element: pulse reaches the deep level (“has root”)
  • wood element: pulse has enough guts to produce a slight tautness in the vessel (“slightly wiry”)

In each of elements listed above, the slippery, wiry, floating, or sinking aspects of the pulse is balanced. For instance, while a pulse may have root (sinking) it can also be felt superficially. Or the pulse is slightly slippery and wiry. It isn’t until one or another of these qualities grossly dominates that we can call it a pathological finding. Certainly in terms of preventive medicine, we can predict pathological changes based solely on the pulse, but the point is that there is a gray zone between a healthy normal (slightly) wiry pulse and the pathologically wiry pulse. Where you draw the line between physiology and pathology is a question of personal experience.

Next: simple pulse qualities.

Last modified: August 24, 2009  Tags: ,  В·  Posted in: Pulse Class, Pulse-Palpation