One of the methods of looking at the body closely evolved into pulse diagnosis. Now, we've all sat at the doctor's office and had them count the number of times our heart beats per minute. They commonly take this reading at wrist on the radial artery. Chinese medicine took this a step further. Not only does an acupuncturist or herbalist count the number of beats per minute, they also can get an overview of what's going on in your body by feeling the quality of your pulse.
Each wrist has three pulse positions. On the right wrist, the energy of the Lung, Large Intestine, Spleen, Stomach and Kidney Yang can be felt. On the left wrist, the energy of the Heart, Small Intestine, Liver, Gall Bladder and Kidney Yin can be felt. Each organ can be assessed by feeling the qualities of the pulse at its position on the wrist.
The qualities or textures of the pulses that can be felt at each position on the wrist are:
- Wiry - This pulse feels like a guitar string is coming up and hitting your finger. You can very easily feel the sides of the artery as the blood passes through it.
- Slippery - This pulse has been described as "feeling a pearl in a bowl." To me, it feels like a bubble is passing through the artery under my finger.
- Soft - This pulse feels a little like the slippery pulse, but has a "mushy" feel to it. It has been described as the feeling of "pressing into a wet cotton ball."
- Weak - This pulse can be difficult to find and is easily lost if you're using too much pressure to feel the pulse.
- Deep - This pulse takes a lot of pressure to feel. The pulse is hidden deeply.
- Thin - This pulse is very narrow and weak. You can easily lose this pulse with too much pressure.
- Thready - This pulse feels kind of like a wiry pulse, but is much thinner and weaker.
- Rapid - This pulse has more beats per minute than an average pulse and often feels hurried.
- Slow - This pulse has fewer beats per minute than an average pulse and often feels sluggish.