chinese medicinewith his peculiar way of seeing and looking at the universeof touching and feeling the human body, has taught us a labyrinth where health is observed with sense and patience, a labyrinth where the path is the answer.
There are four diagnostic methods: observation, smell and listen, questioning and palpation. Each method has its rules and requirements in order to completely weave the canvas where the human body is drawn and expresses its physical and emotional state.
Diagnosing by pulse is the highest expression of wisdom and experience in the practice of traditional Chinese medicine. It is the professional culmination, which reaches the highest level of understanding.
According to a Chinese saying explaining the pulse is like drinking a glass of water: whether it is hot or cold only the person who has drunk it knows. If someone else asks “how’s the water?” who can answer exactly?
At least, the water can be tasted, but the pulse of each person is invisible, palpable but non-transferable.
Relationship between pulse and health
The pulse is a reflex so actual state of chi (Energy) like the brightness of the face or the good mood of a healthy person. It is the whole of the good functioning of the heart together with the fluid of the channels and the harmony of chi Y xue (blood).
The book Ling Shu says: “The pulse is hidden in the heart. The shen (spirit, liveliness) lodges in the pulse”.
The pulse is the rhythm of life and is marked by the heart that receives the pure blood produced by the spleen/stomach after eating food. From the heart comes the blood and the chi towards the whole body.
The chi is the engine and xue is the vehicle: the blood will not circulate if the Chinese pushes it and the chi will not be able to get anywhere without using the blood as a vehicle.
in the formation of chi Y xue Four organs are involved.
- Lung. He is the master of chi, the fundamental basis of heart rate and pulse strength. Given the close relationship between chi Y xuethe chi generated by the lung through breathing reaches the heart to be transported throughout the body. Its quality and quantity determine the state of the pulse.
- Spleen/Stomach. It is the source of chi Y xuethe acquired land base, where most of the energy is generated. chi and the xue that nourish the body. Good spleen and stomach chi is a sign of good physical and emotional health. That is why it is considered an indicator of life expectancy.
- Liver. Stores blood and regulates its volume. Its main function is to keep the pathways free: blood vessels, meridians and channels. If they are free, the fluids that circulate through them will reach their destinations without hindrance.
- Kidney. It is the root where the yuan resides chi (original chi or hereditary chi), the motor source of the functioning of the organs, and also the root of yin and yang of the whole body. The strength of the pulse comes from the kidney and the pulse has to be rooted in it.
The types of pulse according to Chinese medicine
Chinese medicine considers thirty types of pulse:
- Great: xiao;
- Little: fu:
- Floating: Chen;
- Deep: shou;
- Fast: wow;
- Slippery: I know;
- rough: jin;
- Tense: fù;
- Hidden: chu;
- Hurried on: go;
- Choppy: xi;
- Filiform: ruo;
- Weak: saint;
- Scattered or diffuse…
Some are made up of two or three different types. For example, the yin and yang pulses: the yin are the weak and hidden, and the yang, the big and strong.
How to take the pulse according to Chinese medicine
The pulse is taken near the wrist, where the radius bone ends.
The right side reflects yin and the left side reflects yang. Index, middle and ring fingers are used pressing gently on the radial side of the wrist. And starting from the transverse line towards the heart, a detailed exploration is carried out.
There are three barriers. In the right hand, the pulse of the Lung, Spleen and Kidney (first, second and third barriers consecutively) is taken, and in the left hand that of the Heart, Liver and Kidney (also the first, second and third barrier).
The three depths are fu (floating), zhong (middle) and Chen (sunken or deep).
The fingers act as sensors to capture and determine where, when, how and what happens in the body.
Of the thirty types of pulse that exist to the types of pulse that are really usually distinguished in current practice there is an increasing distance. today that practice is missingas we lose the forests of the mountains.
In the past, medicine was considered a discipline for life and It was usually family transmission or was taught chosen disciples from a very young age.
They learned housework firstuntil one day the teacher considered it appropriate to introduce something as simple as grinding a plant or serving him tea in the consultation. They were instructed without askingthe teacher was more respected than the parents themselves, there was no school but the teacher.
Learning was day by day, drop by drop, without haste and without time limit, a time that had another value, and the only working tools were patience and practicefrom where the refinement of good work conscientiously arose.
Since then teachings have been systematized and there are many more opportunities for many more people. But the hand that takes the pulse continues to feel the pulse of life and disease.
Like Beethoven’s fingers gliding over the piano keys: They not only produced the sound of the notes but the feeling of the music at its best.
Physicians used to practice chi kung in order to master chi or energy, and the pulse is the manifestation of chi. If the doctor has not mastered his own chi, he will not be able to distinguish the patient’s chi from his own.
What is the pulse taken for in traditional Chinese medicine?
In the pulse the imbalances of yin and yang are detected, chi Y xue. You can read where the problems occur and how to solve them.
In a healthy person, the pulse presents four regular beats for each complete and serene breath. It is like an electrocardiogram: it presents rhythm, curves, fluidity, force, peaks, length, amplitude…
In summer the pulses are stronger and shallower due to heat and movement; On the other hand, the winter pulse of the same person tends to be deeper and slower because the energy is internalized so as not to disperse.
The pulse is the most complete and subtle code of our existence, and it takes knowledge, dedication and a lot of patience to figure it out.
Now we take the pulse as a supplementary data. The vast majority of doctors opt for the most practical and simple, such as asking, or for modern technologies such as resonances, ultrasounds, analyses…
It is the price that ancient Chinese medicine has to pay to survive in today’s hyper-technological world. Thus, instead of clinging to dogmas, we can play the same piece of music using other instruments. We will not be Beethoven but we can strive to be his best disciples.