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What's with the Pulse?

woman reading her pulse

Are you ever curious why I take the pulse throughout the treatment?

I love the pulse. I am not quite sure how I would practice without taking the pulse. In fact, I wouldn't work with a provider who didn't practice some form of palpation - whether it be pulse taking, Hara diagnosis (abdominal palpation), channel palpation, etc. It is just too vital of a diagnostic tool to omit. Why is that? Palpatory diagnosis is another way for the body to tell the provider what is going on and what it needs. I use the pulse as a non-verbal way to check in with my patients. Are the meridians flowing freely and fluidly? Or is there a block from one into another? Is one (or more) organ systems running sluggishly while another is over compensating for that weakness? Are things running too hot and too fast? Or too cold? Is there stagnation? What is the cause of that stagnation? Did the acupuncture point that I just placed improve the pulses and thus signal the body to heal? I can feel the answers to these questions (and more) on the pulse. The pulses give me automatic feedback on the efficacy of the treatment. Many of my established patients know that I will not let them leave unless I am satisfied with the shift in their pulses. Isn't there only one pulse? What do I feel for? How does it change? There are over 20 different pulse positions presented on both wrists. Each of the 12 regular meridians and the 8 extraordinary meridians are shown on the pulse, plus the corresponding organ system to those channels. The pulses are not static and fixed. When I am feeling the pulses I am paying attention to how they relate to each other. We are a whole system, that is not separate from our environment or from other parts of our bodies. Yes, our eyes can relate to the health of our liver! A trained acupuncturist can feel that in the pulse. The season also influences the pattern of the pulse. Having a wiry (think of a guitar string) quality to the pulse in the spring is normal and healthy, but that same wiry quality is not the ideal pulse pattern in autumn. Classically speaking, of the 20-plus positions, there are 28 different ways to describe the pulse, ex. slippery, wiry, choppy, thready, hollow, etc. These descriptions give me information on the quality and quantity of Qi and Blood in the body. They can guide my point selection and herb recommendations. As for quantity, how strong is the pulse in that particular position and how is it in relation to all the other pulses? Are all the pulses weak or is just one position weak? After I inserted a particular point prescription, did the overall quality improve? Did just that particular position improve? Or (gasp) did they get worse? It can happen, in which case I immediately remove the offending point and find the correct point to promote harmony. I take all these (and more) factors into account when feeling the pulses and prescribing a treatment plan. Is this cool or what? Pretty much I use the pulse to keep my agenda out of the picture. It keeps me humble. The pulse is my patients' way of telling me exactly what they need and if what I have chosen is aligned with that. If what I have chosen does not resonate effectively, I remove the point. I have even started to test points prior to insertion using an acupressure Qigong technique that I have personally developed. This prevents patients from unnecessary pokes. We can all appreciate that, no? Do you want to know more about the pulse? Do you have comments about it or other topics related to health and wellness? Please ask me! Please allow me to be a resource for you. Don't be shy.


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