So we thought reading the tongue was difficult, but then we then moved onto Pulse taking, (what a whole new ball game!) It’s not conventional pulse taking you will have experienced in your GP practice, but TCM practitioners are skilled at using three fingers on the radial pulses, to gain information on the nature of the organ disharmony in the body.
In TCM it is believed that the pulses mirror the microcosm (the orbit of the qi and blood in your body) which mirrors the macrocosm (everything in the universe). As such the pulses may have differing qualities throughout the year which are not pathogenic. For example, In Spring you may expect a ‘Tense pulse’, in Summer a ‘Full pulse’, Autumn a ‘Floating pulse’ and in winter a ‘Sunken Pulse’.
Each of the fingers must be trained to read the depth, speed and quality of the pulse of specific organs which will reflect the state of that organ and any pathogenic factor affecting the body…
For example – Often with a ‘floating pulse’, the pathogen is external in origin and if felt with no other external symptoms, is indicative of highly deficient Yin. Is the pulse fast? as this represents heat is present in the system. Is the pulse deep? as this signifies the disharmony is internal in nature or there is an obstruction. Wow, I think I have a lot of learning to do!!
With regards to quality, there lies the hardest part- descriptions such as ‘Slippery’ are used in those patients presenting with too much Damp in the system ,’Wiry’ with disharmony in the Liver /Gallbladder, and ‘Tight’ if there is stagnation and pain.(These are just a few of many that we need to remember- how I wish my brain was still only 20 yrs old!)
Following tongue and pulse assessment alongside subjective questioning ,it would seem that eventually we will be well versed to gauge how the Qi is flowing , whether there are any deficiencies or excesses, whether the pathogen is internal or external and indeed what relationship exists between the Yin and Yang.
Obviously, the various theories on which Chinese medicine is based, will need to be fully understood, before we will be able to instigate treatment according to the differentiation of syndromes.
More of these different theories to follow…