One qi gong teacher famously suggested that it will take a year to feel your qi, and five years to believe it. In much the same vein, pulse diagnosis is easy to pick up in a few minutes, but it takes somewhat longer to really derive useful diagnostic information.
This lecture has taken many of the ambiguous descriptions of pulses that rely on poetic names and evocative terms and presents them in terms of mostly quantifiable parameters such as width, length, and depth. I hope that this makes pulse diagnosis a little bit easier to wrap your head around.
Because this information is freely distributed online, I assume that it will also be accessed by consumers, patients, and other interested parties. At no point should any of the references to internal organs (eg. Spleen, Liver, etc.) be assumed to be the same concept as is usually attributed to these organs in the biomedical mindset.
For instance, when I write about Liver qi, this is best understood as the peripheral or enteric nervous systems. However, Liver blood disharmonies commonly look “hormonal” in conventional biomedicine. Heart blood looks like neurotransmitters. These correspondences are not written in stone. There are too many exceptions to all of these things to make any one-to-one relationships between Chinese medicine concepts and biomedical “realities”.
Next, to properly access a pulse, you will have to be calibrated by someone there with you passing on what a wide pulse feels like compared to a thin pulse. I suppose that after some time and effort, you may be able to arrive at your own calibration if you take enough pulses, but most consumers or patients really are not in a position to achieve that goal. As for the more tactile sensations such as the wave forms, this absolutely requires someone showing you exactly what that means so you can then recognize it in other pulses.
So, if you’re a consumer, patient, or student, please view this with the understanding that you are missing about half of this course, which is the practical action of taking pulses and discussing their diagnostic findings with a more experienced practitioner.
Al Stone, L.Ac, DAOM: In 1995, Al Stone founded Acupuncture.com, a site that earned numerous awards and international goodwill while he was in the driver’s seat there. He also was the founder and webmaster of other popular Chinese medicine related websites such as gancao.net and eagleherbs.com.
Eagleherbs.com was the outcome of his 15 years of experience in bringing the highest level of herbalism to the online community. Creating customized formulas following an extensive consultation was unheard of in the early days of the internet, but because of Al Stone’s significant online presence, the need to provide this service became clear beginning in 1995. He had been working with individuals all over the world since then.
In 2012, Al found out that a minor eye problem was being caused by a rare but deadly ocular melanoma. Despite Western treatment and Chinese herbs, Al passed away early in the morning of May 24th, 2013 with his brother, Ken, at his side.
Douglas Eisenstark L.Ac. writes:
“Al was my good friend. He had some wonderful assistants working with him at Eagle Herbs and we promised him we would carry on with the business with the same quality that he had always provided. I am also an acupuncturist and herbalist and had know Al for over 20 years. For a couple of decades, we have had long, long discussions about herbs and the best way to know and prescribe them.
Al was not afraid of dying, he was a very spiritual man and as things go, even in his illness, he did it with humour and class. Before he died, Al asked me to take on Eagleherbs.com. We had a very intense month of making the transition before he passed away.
As Al always said, ‘Everything changes.’"