How does a TCM practitioner diagnose using the pulse? (Part 2) 中医师如何把脉诊病?(二)

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

TCM Physician taking the pulse

> See Part 1 for explanation on pulse diagnosis and examples of different pulse types

Ever noticed that a TCM practitioner always uses 3 fingers to take the pulse and does so on both wrists? Why must three fingers be used, and wouldn’t the pulse on both sides be the same?

This is because there are 3 specific positions on each wrist that a practitioner places his/her fingers on. Each position corresponds to a certain organ in the body.

By taking the pulse at all 6 positions, the TCM practitioner can better understand the health of the organs (see image below).

This means that apart from identifying the general feel of the pulse as a whole (see previous article), the TCM practitioner also looks out for how the 6 individual positions may feel.

For example, in some elderly people, the pulse may feel normal as a whole, but the pulse at the kidney positions may be weaker and deeper than the other positions. This is because the kidney functions can deteriorate with age, and this is reflected as a weaker pulse in the kidney positions.

Similarly, if the pulse at the heart position is strong and wide, this points to excess heat in the heart, which may be manifested as insomnia, mouth ulcers, thirst, prone to frustration etc.

Therefore, by combining the information they gather from the pulse as a whole and from the pulse at each individual point, the practitioner can make a more accurate diagnosis.