Pulse diagnosis is among the more difficult aspects of Chinese medicine to master. One reason for this is incomplete education.
In this article, pulse qualities are described, along with the mechanisms behind these findings and of course their therapeutic indications.
Understanding mechanisms simplifies this study greatly. Complex pulses such as the soggy (ru mai) aren’t so complex when you understand the basis for it’s quantifiable parameters.
There are certain answers that come up frequently during the “inquiry” phase of the diagnostic interaction in Chinese medicine.
For instance, whenever you see secretions or excretions that are yellow, no matter where they appear, the diagnostic significance always points to heat.
These generalities can easily guide a practitioner toward relevant, accurate, and efficacious diagnosis. Enjoy.
Making pulse diagnosis doable by breaking down complex qualities into very quantifiable perceptions.
One of the more frustrating problems Chinese medicine folks have in the English speaking world is getting past translations of pulse terms to arrive at less ambiguous descriptions of these different pulses.
These first six pairs of ridiculously simple pulse measurements don’t rely on intuition, self-cultivation, or psychic abilities.
Depth: deep-superficial The deep pulse is associated with either a deficiency of yang qi to lift the pulse upward, or an obstruction to the yang qi that prevents it from rising systemically and lifting the pulse.
The slow pulse is due to a deficiency of pulse power as manifest in its rate rather than strength.
Rhythm: rhythmic-arrhythmic Again, this comes down to the Heart’s yang (or qi in the absence of cold symptoms) from flowing smoothly.
If there is one pulse quality that should be a take-home message, it is this. The forceful pulse suggests excess, the forceless pulse suggests deficiency.
Length: short-long. If the strength of the pulse is the best tie breaking quality to differentiate between excess and deficiency, the length of the pulse is the least likely to help you understand anything.