chinese medicines
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by specific condition
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Palpation, or touching, is a form of diagnosis made by feeling and tapping local areas of the body to ascertain:

  • Painful areas
  • Temperature of the skin (heat, cold)
  • Swelling
  • Perspiration
  • Color

Pulse Diagnosis:

Pulse diagnosis, as it applies to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is the most important form of palpation, and is very different from that of Western physicians.

In performing pulse palpation, the practitioner places the index, middle, and ring fingers on the radial artery. Three degrees of pressure, the light touch, the medium touch, and the heavy touch are applied to the region and correspond to the upper, middle, and lower areas of the body.

In traditional terms, there are 28 pulse classifications, which describe the way the pulse feels to the fingertip. Some examples of these classifications are:

  • Slippery - feels like a rolling pearl in a basin, very fluid and full
  • Choppy - has no strength and is irregular
  • Full - large and rounded, can be felt at all levels
  • Empty - hard to detect or felt only slightly at the superficial level when pressure is applied
  • Slow - slower than the normal rate of four to five beats per breath
  • Rapid - six to seven beats per breath
  • Superficial - easily felt on the skin surface
  • Deep - only felt with a heavy touch

These, along with 20 other descriptions, must be taken into consideration during pulse diagnosis. This requires a tremendous amount of skill and practice, and when properly executed is one of the most important and accurate means of correctly diagnosing a patient. In fact, pulse and tongue diagnosis are considered to be the "two pillars" of the four examinations in traditional practice.

Related Topics

questioning as part of diagnosis

observation as part of diagnosis
listening and smelling as part of diagnosis



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The information provided on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Should you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering any natural remedy.

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