People often ask me how I arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan. Our entire concept of a diagnosis is very different from Western Medicine, which might diagnose and treat a person with kidney issues, or high blood pressure. In Eastern Medicine our diagnoses and treatment plans are based on understanding the Elements of your body that are in or out of balance. There are several diagnostic methods that are common in Eastern Medicine including taking pulses, channel diagnosis, tongue examination, and questioning. While I focus heavily on asking questions about your experiences during treatment sessions, I also use pulses as an important source of information.
In Chinese Medicine there are six different pulse locations; 3 on each wrist. Each of these pulses gives me information about areas of your body and a related element of Chinese Medicine. The various pulse locations will have different qualities, and I take these pulses often throughout a treatment session. This gives me ongoing information about how you are reacting to the treatment and anything further that I should be asking questions about.
So what am I feeling for when I take your pulse? When I take a pulse, I'm feeling the qualities of that pulse. The varying aspects of your pulse help me to know what to pay attention to during treatment and what questions to ask you. Many different factors can affect your pulse including your mental state, whether you are seated or lying down, and any medications you are taking. Your pulse should even be different at different times of the year.
A pulse has several distinct qualities that I use to direct the course of my treatment. It can be thick or thin, deficient or excessive, and fast or slow. When I mention speed, people often assume I am counting beats per minute, which isn't the case. Instead, I'm checking whether your pulse feels rushed or labored, and how it fits in with your breathing pattern. I am looking for a pulse that is even in shape, and that fits with what I know about you. A pulse changes often during the day, and I expect your pulse to change during a treatment session and to shift with the rhythm of the treatment itself. The variability of pulses is one of the reasons that they are so helpful as a diagnostic tool and why I take them so often during a treatment session.