There are four methods used in diagnosing a patient in Chinese medicine. The four methods are:
Inspection of the patient’s facial expression, skin color, skin texture, appearance as well as the shape, color, and markings of the tongue including the coating if any along with any oral odors or body odors.
Listening to the speech
(volume of voice, how rapid the person speaks, and how response they are to questions), the sounds of the respiration, any noticeable sounds of illness such as coughing, or gurgling of the intestinal tract.
Inquiring of the patient regarding the medical history, especially about any symptoms or signs of illness.
A Chinese doctor will gather information from all of these methods in order to make a diagnosis.
The pulse diagnosis method is described in many ancient texts.
A pulse can be too strong or too weak and if this were the case it would mean there is illness in the individual.
The pulse diagnosis is used in conjunction with the other methods and not by itself. Front and rear pulses must be taken.
There are 26 different pulse types:
The Scattered pulse is an irregular pulse that occurs in critical cases where qi is exhausted.
Intermittent pulse is a slow pulse that has pauses at regular intervals. This is seen in severe trauma.
The swift pulse is a fast pulse (120 – 140 beats per minute).
The hollow pulse feels floating, large, soft and hollow and is seen in cases where there is a large blood volume loss.
A faint pulse is thready and soft, hardly noticeable.
A surging pulse is a forceful rising and gradual falling pulse.
A hidden pulse is observed when someone is in severe pain and can only be felt when pressing almost close to the bone.
The knotted pulse is a slow pulse that is irregular and is often a sign of stagnation of qi and stagnation of blood.
Hurried pulse is a rapid pulse that has irregular intermittence beats, occurring with excessive heat, retention of phlegm or undigested food.
Long pulse is a lengthy, prolonged pulse.
A short pulse is short and forceful.
A find pulse is like a fine thread and usually results in a state of deficiency.
Hesitant pulse is a choppy pulse that indicates a sluggish blood flow.
Slippery pulse can be found in normal individuals as well as those who are pregnant, who have food stagnation and those with phlegm-damp.
A relaxed pulse occurs with diminished tension, or someone with spleen insufficiency.
A moderate pulse is a pulse that has a even rhythm to it and has moderate tension, which is indicative of a normal condition.
Tense pulse is a tightly stretched pulse that may indicate the individual has a cold or possibly in pain.
A stringy pulse is like a musical instrument, feeling straight and long. Individual in severe pain will have a stringy pulse or those having liver disorders.
A replete pulse is a very vigorous and forceful pulse.
A weak pulse is deep and soft, and due to deficiency of qi and blood.
A soggy pulse is a very thin, soft pulse.
A feeble pulse is a pulse that feels feeble which may indicate a loss of qi or blood or some other impairment of body fluid.
Rapid pulse is one that has increased frequency of more than 90 beats per minute.
A slow pulse is a pulse that has reduced frequency – meaning less than 60 beats per minute.
A sinking pulse is only felt while pressing down hard and is indicative of illness that is located deep in the interior of the body.
A floating pulse can be felt by pressing lightly and grows faint if pressure is applied. This is indicative of an illness that is in the exterior of the body.