Diagnosis lies in recognizing disturbances affecting the meridians. To do this, an examination is made of the pulses, which are at the points on the body where one can feel the blood flow beating under the pressed fingertips, There are many places on the body where this examination can be made. Usually, the wrist is used, or, more precisely, the gutter running along the radius (one of the bones of the forearm), known as the radial gutter. Western medicine uses only one pulse, but Chinese medicine takes it at 14 positions. The acupuncturist knows how to recognize the particular characteristics of pulsation of these 14 spots.
It is believed that the acupuncturist requires a great deal of experience and a very particular sensitivity of the fingers. In addition, various electrical machines have been introduced recently to aid in diagnosis and therapy. Forty-seven different aspects of each of the pulses are observed. The rhythm can be slow, rapid, regular, irregular, of great or small amplitude, hard, soft, sliding, or harsh.
The pulses can also furnish information on an illness about to declare itself Many times they will do this in time to prevent the illness. If the pulse is too feeble, it indicates that the organ it represents is suffering (or is about to suffer) from an illness of Yin character Therefore action must be taken on the corresponding tonicizing points in order to produce a Yang effect. If on the contrary the pulse is too accentuated, it is a question of an illness of Yang character. Therefore, the needles must be inserted in the corresponding dispersing points to obtain a Yin effect.