As you have
probably noticed from your acupuncture treatments at Stepping Stone,
acupuncturists feel your pulses before starting treatment (and sometimes during
or after!) Why do we do this?
gain lots of information from the pulse that helps us to choose the most
appropriate acupuncture points for your unique condition. Acupuncture, as a
medicine, is based on energy flow in the body. All of the energetic systems in
the body are reflected in different positions of the pulse.
To take the
pulse as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis, we use our right hand
to feel your left pulse and our left hand to feel your right pulse. We feel your
radial pulse in three different positions, in three different depths, on each
of your wrists. When your pulse feels different in these different positions,
it gives us information about what is going on in your body. For example,
the front-most position on the right wrist (the position closest to your palm)
corresponds to the Lung energy system. Because the function of the Lung in TCM
is related to the immune system and getting sick, when you are coming down with
a cold your pulse in the Lung position will be very superficial, just under the
skin. When we feel this, we can use acupuncture to prevent the onset of a cold,
even if you are not yet experiencing any symptoms.
example is the middle position on the right wrist, which corresponds to the
Spleen/Stomach energy system. The spleen and stomach, as we have discussed in
previous posts, govern the digestive system. In someone who is experiencing
digestive disturbances, this pulse position will provide us with valuable
information about the nature of their condition. For example, if the pulse in
that middle right position is very weak, we know that we need to work on
building up the Spleen energy to help the patient through the problem. A weak
Spleen/Stomach pulse probably correlates with such symptoms as chronic
diarrhea, bloating and gas, fatigue after eating, or IBS. However, if the right
middle pulse position feels overly strong and fast, we will conclude that the
digestive problems are likely excess in nature, and our treatment will instead
focus on dispersing the excess energy and cooling down the digestive system.
Symptoms of this condition may manifest as acid reflux, ulcers, stomach
cramping, or nausea.
We also feel
for the speed, depth, width, and quality of your pulse, and all of these
factors tell us about how the energy in your body is moving and functioning.
There are numerous different pulse qualities that we feel for...some people
have a "wiry" pulse, which feels like a guitar string, and often
indicates some pathology relating to stress. Sometimes pulses are "slippery"
- they feel like rolling beads through oil. This can mean many things,
including congestion in the body, an abnormal accumulation of fluids, or even
pregnancy. Other pulses are "choppy" - they feel like ocean waves
when a storm is coming. These pulses often indicate a weakness in the blood
energy of the body, which can cause problems with sleep, anxiety, and
provides us acupuncturists with the information that we need to formulate the
correct treatment for your unique condition. Just as no two persons’ fingerprints
are the same, no two persons’ pulses are the same. Moreover, your pulse will
not be exactly the same next week as it is this week. It is a perfect
reflection of the uniqueness of your condition at any single moment in time.
we have treated patients who do not speak the same language as we do, patients
who could not talk speak (babies, post-surgery patients with their jaw wired
shut, post-stroke patients with aphasia), and patients who chose not to share
much about their health during a verbal interview. Being able to understand the
language that the body speaks has enabled us to be able to treat in these
situations. And the pulse is one of the
most valuable ways that the body speaks to us.