Pulse Diagnosis - Preface
Pulse diagnosis is an important tool for treatment in accordance with the Five Elements.
Pulse diagnosis enables the practitioner to assess the energetic state of the patient. The language and conceptual system with which we diagnose the pulse is consistent with that of treatment according to the Five Elements.
Similar symptoms can have different energetic causes. Our assessment and classification of patients’ symptoms is ultimately based on our own understanding. By means of a logical process, we compare, measure, and reach a diagnosis. Use of a logical symptomatic diagnosis in conjunction with a direct pulse diagnosis reflecting the energetic state of the patient facilitates a broad assessment of the patient’s condition.
Using pulse diagnosis enables us to relate to the patient’s condition on an energetic level as opposed to treating the symptoms, which in themselves are the product of the patient’s energetic state. Treating the patients’ basic energetic state is treating the root of the problem rather than its manifestation.
Acquiring expertise in pulse diagnosis requires training. Due to the abstract nature of the skill, it cannot be mastered based on written material alone.
1. Pulse Diagnosis in Children
In children, the pulse is distinct and easy to diagnose. The strength and vitality of qi in children is also manifested in their pulse. Pulse in children is vital, distinct, and stable, with no variances in the course of the examination. Overall, pulse diagnosis in children is simple and easy.
The heart rate and therefore the pulse rate is rapid in children, but this fact does not affect the pulse diagnosis which relates to the quality rather than rhythm.
The prevalent view is that pulse diagnosis in children is difficult and bordering on the impossible. The difficulty is attributed in part to the small size of the arm, but arm size has no significant bearing on the ability to feel a pulse. Although the arm of a baby is smaller than the arm of an adult, our fingertips are filled with sensory nerves and can easily feel something the size of a pinhead, especially something as vital and active as a pulse.
Although many children move their arms during pulse diagnoses and some even resist the practitioners grip, practice enables the practitioner to roll with the movement of the child’s arm and to feel the pulse during the movement.
There are also many different ways of distracting the child for the time necessary to carry out a pulse diagnosis: blowing soap bubbles, noisemaking toys, vocally produced sing-song sounds, and other helpful techniques based on the abilities of the practitioner and the parents. The most important requirement is a calm atmosphere, which relaxes the child and encourages more curiosity and less resistance.
2. Focusing on the Important Information
Effort must be focused on identifying imbalance at the relevant pulse positions. We can learn a great deal of information from the pulse, and without an adequately focused assessment it may simply be too much information. Patient symptoms and the Western classification of the illness can help provide direction in identifying the energetic imbalance and reduce the search to the more relevant pulse positions or a specific quality that needs to be sought. For example, when a patient presents himself with signs of heat, we attempt to identify the organ in which the heat most prominently manifests itself. And when a patient presents himself with signs of imbalance in the KID, we undertake an in-depth assessment of the pulse position of the KID.
3. The State of the Practitioner during the Examination.
When the practitioner is not distracted and is free to listen, the process is quick and efficient. The practitioner’s ability to remain focused and concentrated even for only a short time is essential for acquiring the necessary information. Concentration in this case means detachment from all daily concerns. Practitioners must empty their minds of all thoughts and achieve a meditation-like state in order to acquire the necessary information in an effective manner. The ability to effectively concentrate even for a short period of time does not go without saying. It must be cultivated, worked at, and built-upon by each practitioner in his or her own unique way. Some practitioners close their eyes to make it easier for them to detach themselves.
After the practitioner successfully achieves a state of listening, the entire process takes no more than a few seconds. Achieving a state of listening can be compared to opening your eyes – once they are open, it takes a fraction of a second to snap a picture of what is going on around you.
4. How is the knowledge acquired?
To acquire the knowledge to effectively engage in pulse diagnoses, it is recommended to seek out the guidance of an experienced practitioner. Through clinical observations of experienced practitioners, we can learn to recognize different types of pulses and their relationship to pathologies. When the experienced practitioner presents a certain type of pulse to a student, its feeling is ingrained in his or her memory. Later, when the student encounters a similar pulse, he makes use of his past experience and builds up a sense of confidence and a familiarity with the feeling. After accumulating experience and confidence in their ability to identify a certain pulse, diagnosis of the pulse in question becomes an additional diagnostic tool at their disposal. With additional experience, the different possibilities and pulses which the practitioner now intuitively recognizes and their relationship to pathologies assume the form of a broad picture.
5. Which finger should be used?
Different practitioners use different fingers to feel the pulse. Many use the index finger, which is better skilled and gets more use in everyday life. Some use three fingers, placing one on each position.
The middle finger is connected to the PC meridian. From an energetic level, the PC reflects our capacity to communicate and understand our surroundings.
6. Pulse Position Order