The four pillars of health used in TCM are observation, listening, inquiry, and palpation. One form of palpation is Pulse diagnosis. The pulse is used as a tool to help confirm an accurate Chinese medicine diagnosis. It accesses the physiological and pathological state of the client.
The pulse is taken at six positions on the wrist and at three different levels. The diagnosis is determined from multiple factors including depth, length, speed, strength, shape and rhythm, quality. All these factors influence the overall analysis.
The pulse is felt at three positions on each wrist:
Can: Distal or Front (at wrist crease)
Guan: Middle (just medial to radial styloid process)
Chi: Proximal or Rear
The pulse is felt at three different levels on each wrist:
Superficial: state of Qi and Yang Organs in general
Middle: state of Blood
Deep: state of Yin and Yin Organs
The pulse indicates the state of the internal organs by the state qi and blood. Short-term external influences also show up in the pulse, such as a common cold. Each pulse tells a story. For example, The Lung pulse with a full feeling can occur as a result of emotional problem (grief) affecting Lungs or from Phlegm in Lungs or from an Exterior Excess in which the pulse feels rapid (heat) and floating in the case of a cold with a sore throat. Pain normally shows up as a ‘wiry’ quality indicating tension in the Healthy Body.