Curepoint Acupuncture in Bristol

The Phenomenon of Pulse Reading

A curious incident prompted me to write this article. In a clinic session today, I felt something that I had never experienced before. The patient had had some recent attacks of hay fever. When I read her Lung pulse, I felt a tingling on the front part of my tongue, over the whole of the Lung region on the tongue.

What was happening here?

I often experience some of a patient’s current, or recent, symptoms when I read their pulses (I give my explanation for this below). But I had never before felt a sensation on my tongue while reading pulses. The fact that this sensation was induced by the activity of me reading the patient’s pulse is not in doubt in my mind:

It was not a random sensation (as some people might imagine). It happened at the moment I read the Lung pulse, and the sensation was definitely restricted to the Lung region on my tongue, and I had never experienced this sensation before, under any other circumstances. Further, the patient’s Lungs had been ‘distressed’, so there was a pathogenic situation occurring within her Lungs. It is true that I would have felt the pulses of hundreds of other patients whose Lungs would have also been distressed in some way, and I had never previously experienced the reflection of their symptoms on my tongue. But these instances of hyper-sensitivity come and go. They are on the edge of our experience of life, and those sensitivities, perhaps, only switch on under unusual circumstances, when we are particularly relaxed, or our mind is in a particular state, or a certain set of unspecified circumstances all occur at once. In such moments, we might experience sensations in a way that is normally not available to us. Most people might have such experiences in other areas, not related to healing. Perhaps you once experienced the taste of a particular meal in a way that seemed unusually sublime, and since then you have never been able to recapture that experience, despite eating the same meal repeatedly. We all experience these moments of hypersensitivity in one area or another.

So, what was happening here?

When I read pulses, I first place my fingers in contact with the patient’s skin, and before I apply a slight pressure to feel the pulse itself, I can often sense that a particular organ is ‘deficient’ (I have heard of other practitioners being able to do this, though it would seem that a lot of practitioners are not sensitive enough to be able to notice this phenomenon). We read the pulses in three different locations on each wrist. These locations are over the radial artery, approximately 0.75 inch apart, though this varies depending on the size of the patient. In my opinion, it seems that the energy from each of the major organs surfaces at these points, very much in the way that the energy related to a particular acupoint surfaces at that acupoint. For example, on the right wrist, the Lung pulse is felt at the position that is nearest to the thumb. So, it would seem that the Lung energy surfaces at that particular point. As this energy passes through the artery, it affects the flow of blood in the artery, and this produces a whole range of different qualities in the pulse itself that can be felt by the practitioner. These different qualities reflect the health of the Lungs at that moment. With practice, all practitioners learn to be able to distinguish these different qualities to some extent. And it would seem that with a minority of practitioners, who are more sensitive than usual, they are able to feel the energy of the particular organ at each of these locations, as well as being able to also feel the effect that this has on the physical pulse.

The above is my explanation of the mechanism that enables all experienced practitioners to read pulses and to thereby detect the state of each organ’s health. And this mechanism explains why when I lightly place my fingers over these three different locations, I sometimes sense that the energy of one of the organs is noticeably low. It very much feels like a deep hollow, similar to the sensation you might feel if you were walking over a grassy field and suddenly you placed your foot on an area that was not supported and you realized that if you were to put your full weight on that foot, your foot would sink down into the earth. When feeling that particular pulse, this is the feeling that I would get. There would be a distinct emptiness under my finger. And this is sensed before I apply the light pressure that enables me to feel the physical pulse itself.

All these experiences convince me that the energy from each of the main organs surfaces at a particular point on the wrist over the radial artery.

The above mechanism also begins to explain why I often feel a patient’s symptoms when I read their pulses. But to explain what I believe is happening here, I have to describe a previous, related experience:

In clinic, I started to notice that when I touched a patient, I could often feel their energy flowing into my hand and arm. When a patient was lying on the couch, I would sometimes place my fingers on an acupoint that is located on the sole of the foot (Kidney-1). I cannot remember why I first did this. I think I just seemed to feel that it would be helpful, so I did it. While holding my thumbs on this point, I would usually start to feel the patient’s energy slowly entering my hands and rising up my arms. If the sensation was strong and it travelled to my elbows, I would usually let go to stop their energy entering me any further, since it seemed that that may have been harmful to me. Sometimes I would consciously direct this flow of energy out through my elbows and down to the floor, so that it was simply vented without entering me. I continued this practice and explored it over a few years, because a number of valuable things resulted from it. Firstly, the patients always said that they found it a deeply relaxing, or wonderful experience; and secondly, it enabled me to produce some powerful healing effects. I found that when I ‘connected’ to a patient in this way, I would often feel some of the symptoms that they had been experiencing, and I was sometimes able to clear these symptoms from the patient.

For example, on one occasion, with a migraine patient, I felt a sensation inside my head that made it seem as though a finger were being pushed into the side of my head at the right temple and were penetrating about three inches into my head. The feeling was in the form of a ‘tightness’, rather like when someone presses their finger into you and holds it for some time and then releases their finger; when their finger is taken away, you can often still feel it there, like a ghost of the previous sensation, and if you were to close your eyes you would probably say that they still had their finger pressed into you. The sensation I felt was very much like that ‘ghost’ of a sensation. I described to the patient what I could feel, and she said that that was what her migraine felt like—only the pain was intense, like a nail being driven in. While remaining ‘connected’ to her, by holding this point on her feet, and while still feeling this finger of tightness extending into my head, I tried to disperse this feeling within my head. Exactly how you do this, cannot be described; it is one of those things that you simply have to discover for yourself, like the skill of balancing on a bike. But I had previously found that I could do this—I could mentally manipulate my own energy in order to move this type of sensation around within myself. So, I dispersed this sensation inside my own head. Usually I find that this is a fairly quick and straightforward process, but in this instance, it took a few minutes; it felt like a particularly stubborn pattern; and I found that I could not disperse it completely; there remained a numb feeling on the side of my head where the ‘finger’ had first pushed in. The patient came for a follow-up treatment the next week and she said that her migraine had almost gone. She had been experiencing it for around thirty years, and it was an almost weekly occurrence. She said that she had had an attack since the last treatment, but that the sensation was only mild. When she described it, it sounded to me exactly like that residual sensation that had remaining on the side of my own head, the part of the ‘pain’ that I had not been able to disperse. During the session, once I had released my thumbs from the patient’s feet, this ‘ghost’ sensation in my own head had stopped. I have used this same healing technique on several patients for different conditions, though I now tend to only use it as a last resort, since I am usually prone to picking up symptoms from patients, so I need to protect my own health by not deliberately opening myself up in this way unnecessarily.

(I think it is the weakness in a particular aspect of my own Lung energy—in my ‘defensive’ energy—that makes me prone to allowing other people’s energy into my body; it gives me a ‘thin skin’, in every sense, both physically and psychologically; but, on the other hand, it is this very weakness that gives me the sensitivity to experience all the above things, and that has therefore enabled me to make all the deductions that this article is expressing.)

I have worked out a full explanation for what I believe is happening in these situations, but the explanation is far too complex to be given in full here. I will leave that for a separate article. But in brief:

The meridian system is one complete circuit that flows round the entire body, much like the system of arteries and veins that circulate our blood. Flowing through this circuit is the Qi, which is some form of electrical energy that consists of a single waveform. Into it is encoded the information from all the internal organs, and also the location on the body where any organ is currently expressing its ‘discomfort’. The Qi is the thinking of the body. The influence of the organs is required in every part of our body, and it is the Qi that communicates that influence to each part of our body. The blood then transports the ‘products’ of the organs to that part of the body. And the chemistry of the body (which is what biomedicine focuses on) is merely the bridge between this electrical energy and the physical body. The chemistry does not govern the body, as biomedicine imagines; it is the Qi that does this. Electrical energy has probably been used by nature to do this communication job because it is the fastest way to perform the communication. But the chemistry is required to communicate the ‘wishes’ of this electrical energy to the physical body itself. So, this single waveform of Qi circulates the body and at various points on this circuit, each organ’s information is separated out (or: ‘decoded’) and then rises to the skin’s surface. These are the acupoints that healers use to change the functioning of the organs. (It is perhaps this very ‘decoding’ mechanism that enables us to influence the organs. We would not be able to do this by simulating the complete Qi waveform, with all its information intact. But since the body decodes the information from a particular organ and then makes this information available at a particular point on the skin’s surface, then by simulating that particular point, we are able to change the functioning of that particular organ.) When I touch a particular acupoint, the decoded part of the patient’s Qi waveform that relates to the organ concerned, is then transferred to my own Qi and is superimposed on my own Qi’s waveform. When this information is then passed around my own meridian circuit, I then experience a ‘ghost’ of the patient’s symptoms that are related to that particular organ. And it is this mechanism that enables me to sense some of the patient’s symptoms.

As I say, the above is only a summary of this mechanism, and I will be describing it in more detail in a separate article.

Perhaps my own ‘energetic pattern’ (the functioning of my main organs and the distribution of any weak areas in my body; in short, the way that the entire Qi network flows around my body) perhaps this is also superimposed on the patient’s energetic pattern. To some extent, this must happen because of the healing effects that take place. Those effects could only take place if there were a two-way communication taking place between us, though, of course, the patient’s experience of this process would usually be quite different from mine, since, at the time of the ‘communication’, they are not usually actively experiencing the pain, nor the ‘ghost’ of it. That ‘ghost’ is present in the information that is coded into their Qi waveform, but at the time, it is not manifesting on their physical body, so is beneath their conscious awareness. And it is that ‘ghost’ (once it has been transferred to me) that I experience and manipulate; and that manipulation is then communicated back to the patient’s Qi waveform. Something along the lines of the above must take place. But the information from within the patient’s Qi waveform is only ‘reflected’ onto mine. The resulting pain that I feel is only temporary and is less intense. It is very much a ‘ghost’ of their symptoms, like when a person stops pressing their finger into you and you can still feel the ghost of their finger there.

This is a routine phenomenon that I still experience now, even when not attempting to perform a healing effect. In fact, I do sometimes even feel a person’s symptoms when I simply stand close to them.

And this is what I believe is happening in scenarios such as the above example. While I am still ‘connected’ to the patient, and I feel inside me this ‘ghost’ of their symptom, I mentally disperse this ‘ghost’ sensation inside myself, and because our energy systems are still connected, this dispersed pattern, or the process of the ‘blockage’ being dispersed, is then reflected back onto their energetic pattern, and this is what then causes their symptom to disappear.

Why do I sometimes feel a patient’s symptoms when I read their pulses?

I believe that the above phenomenon also explains why I sometimes feel a patient’s symptoms when I am reading their pulses. As I feel each pulse in turn, the energy of that particular organ is passing into my finger tip and is connecting with my own energy system. In this instance, the connection is specific. It is not a general merging of mine and the patient’s whole energy systems. I have noticed this many times, in a number of different ways. As I start reading each pulse in turn, I might feel nothing, but then when I come to a particular pulse (the Liver pulse, for example), I might feel a symptom in some part of my body. If I momentarily lift my finger from the patient’s wrist, my feeling of that symptom stops. If I then lower my finger and feel that pulse again, the same sensation returns in that same part of my body. Through experience, I have learnt that this is telling me that the patient has been experiencing that symptom and that it is due to some problem in the way that that particular Organ is functioning (the Liver, in the case of this example). When I then question the patient and point to the location on myself where I felt that sensation, they usually say that they have been experiencing some sort of discomfort in that region, a muscular or joint pain, some sort of headache, an abdominal pain, and so on. Sometimes, the pain is one that the patient is still experiencing, and sometimes the pain happened the previous day, or even a few days ago.

On other occasions, when I am reading a patient’s pulses and I come to a particular pulse, they will say that they felt a sensation in some part of their body as I felt that pulse. Usually, when they point to where they felt the sensation, or describe it, I find that the sensation is located on a strong acupoint on the channel relating to the particular organ whose pulse I was reading. For instance, when I was reading a young man’s pulses recently, I reached his Kidney Yin pulse, and as I touched it, he told me that he felt a tingling sensation running round his left, inner ankle. Immediately, I knew that this was the acupoint Yongquan KID-3, which lies behind the ankle on the inside of the foot. The Kidney channel encircles the inside ankle of each foot. This young man had no knowledge at all of the channel system, and was probably even unaware that there are channels (or ‘meridians’) flowing round the body, which connect with all your major organs. This was the first treatment that he had ever received, and almost certainly the first time that anyone had ever read his pulses in this way. So, the patient was a complete innocent, with no expectations and no prejudices. He simply reported this sensation to me. I seem to remember him saying that it was a weird sensation—and he had perhaps never before felt anything like it, which was why he mentioned it to me. And on my part, I also had no expectation that he would feel anything while I was taking his pulses. But as soon as he mentioned the sensation to me, since it had coincided exactly with the moment when I read his Kidney Yin pulse, I knew that the activity of me ‘connecting’ with his Kidney energy had activated the Kidney channel and had even triggered this particular acupoint, Yongquan KID-3; furthermore, it had triggered it on the left side of his body, which is the Yin side of your body1. There is a Yongquan KID-3 point on both ankles, and there is a Kidney Yin pulse on the left wrist and a Kidney Yang pulse on the right wrist. I was reading the Kidney Yin pulse and this connected with the Yongquan KID-3 point on the left side of his body, the Yin side.

Many other patients have also reported this same phenomenon to me. I will read a particular pulse, and they might mention that they felt a sensation somewhere in their body. And it is always located on the channel related to the organ whose pulse I started to read at that exact moment.

So, this connection is specific. As I read the Lung pulse (taking that as an example), that pulse presents the separated (decoded) Lung part of the Qi waveform to me. By me ‘connecting’ with this, my own energy is able to stimulate the patient’s Lungs, which then activates the patient’s Lung channel and the patient then becomes aware of a sensation somewhere along that channel. And as I ‘connect’ to the organ in this way, the separated Lung part of the patient’s Qi waveform is also superimposed on my own Qi waveform, and since this information then circulates around my own body, I then sometimes feel the ghost of any symptoms that the patient has been experiencing as a result of their Lung energy.

This brings us to the tongue-tingling experience

I believe that the explanation for this experience is similar to the explanation for the above phenomena.

I have so far only experienced this phenomenon once, so it is perhaps unwise to draw too many conclusions from it. However, the experience was not random. The tingling on the Lung region of my tongue was somehow reflecting the state of the patient’s Lung energy, and this sensation occurred on my tongue exactly as I read her Lung pulse, and when I lifted my finger from her wrist, the sensation stopped. If I had had no previous experiences similar to the ones that I have mentioned above, then it is possible that I would have thought nothing of this tingling on my tongue, and I may not even have noticed it. But due to all my previous experiences in this area, I am satisfied that this was not a random sensation and that it was caused by the process of me taking her Lung pulse. And the sensation is fascinating to me, because it serves to support all my previous deductions on the mechanisms related to pulse reading and the ‘connecting’ of the patient’s energy system with the energy system of the practitioner.

Here is what I believe was happening in this situation.

The condition of all the main organs are reflected on the tongue, in one way or another. That this happens, is irrefutable. Any competent practitioner will see evidence of this every day that they practice. Different areas of the tongue relate to different organs, and the colour of the tongue, and the quality and colour of the tongue coating also reflect some of the current states within the patient, such as the strength of their Stomach energy, the amount of ‘heat’ or ‘dampness’ or ‘phlegm’ that is present in their system. It is even possible to see some of these qualities change during the session as a result of the treatment. For instance, a yellow coat indicates heat, and a red tongue body colour also indicates heat in a particular organ. With all these factors, I have frequently seem these qualities disappear from the patient’s tongue during the treatment, due to me using acupoints that clear heat from that particular organ, or that clear heat in general from the entire body. That the tongue reflects all these states is irrefutable, is clearly demonstrable, and has been widely known for thousands of years. So, the first question is: what mechanism enables all these states to be reflected in the tongue.

In the same way that the energy from all the main organs surfaces at the radial artery near to the wrist (which enables us to read the ‘pulse’ of those organs), in this same way, I believe that the energy of all the main organs also surfaces on the tongue, with each organ surfacing in a particular area. Why should this happen?

There is an intimate relationship between all the main organs, and if one organ is struggling in some way, then sooner or later, all the other organs will also be affected. Though the organs are physically separate, they work together, as a ‘team’, if you like. Due to this ‘sharing of the burden’, with most bodily functions, several, if not all, of the major organs are responsible for performing that function. Usually there is one dominant organ with each function, but the other main organs also play some part in enabling that function. For example, if we take the five main organs: Heart, Lungs, Liver, Spleen, Kidney; each of these organs plays a dominant role in producing one or more of the following qualities: muscular tone, the production of energy, smooth movement of substances or of function, suppleness, moisture, production of blood. But most parts of the body and most bodily functions and all the five senses, require all of these qualities to be present for healthy functioning to take place, or for functioning to take place at all. Therefore, a single one of the main organs cannot, by itself, be responsible for the muscular movement of your arm, or your ability to hear or see, or the quality of your skin, or the ability of your mind to think. In all these functions, most of the main organs need to play some part. Therefore, the ‘energy’ (or ‘influence’) of all the main organs needs to reach most parts of our body. And this is why I believe the state of all the main organs is reflected in the tongue. The energy from each of these organs surfaces on the tongue, in the same way that it also surfaces at the radial artery near the wrist. But this does not happen in only a few select places on the body. The influence of all the main organs is present in every part of your body to enable that part to function healthily. With the tongue, it just so happens that over the centuries, practitioners have learnt to identify the exact location on the tongue where each organ’s influence surfaces.

So, on the tongue, the Lung energy happens to surface on the front portion. And when the Lungs are distressed, this will be reflected in this region of the tongue—in the colour of the tongue body, the presence of cracks, and so on.

The particular patient that I was treating on that day, had been experiencing some acute hay fever attacks. This meant that a pathogen of some sort was present in her Lungs. Usually, when I feel the Lung pulse of a person with hay fever, I can feel the presence of this pathogen in the pulse. The pathogen creates a sort of ‘buzzing’ ‘mist’ that hangs on the top surface of the pulse. When I felt this particular patient’s Lung pulse, I was ‘connecting’ with her Lung energy, and this would have been reflected in my own Lung energy; and since this energy surfaces on the front of the tongue, I somehow managed to feel the presence of this pathogen as a tingling on the front portion of my tongue.

On other occasions, when I have read the Lung pulse of a person with hay fever, it would cause me to sneeze. This is an example of the previous phenomenon that I mentioned. When I connect with the patient’s Lung energy, the state of their energy is reflected onto the pattern of my own Lung energy, and I feel a ghost of the symptoms that they have been experiencing. In this case, the symptom was a sneeze. Rather than a physical sneeze, I would feel that sensation that you experience when you are just about to sneeze. It is the ‘ghost’ of the symptom that I was feeling.


The Qi is the thinking of the body. Its purpose is to carry the ‘influence’ of all the organs to every part of the body. The Qi is some form of electrical energy and consists of a single waveform. Into this single waveform is encoded the information from all the main organs. At various places around the Qi circuit, the information from a single organ is decoded and then rises to the surface of the skin. These are the acupoints that can be used to influence the functioning of those organs. At the wrists, this energetic information from each of the main organs surfaces over the radial artery (in the same fashion as an acupoint). As this energy passes trough the artery it changes the quality of the physical pulse in that portion of the artery and it is this mechanism that enables practitioners to detect the health of each of the main organs by feeling these pulses.

When I felt the Lung pulse of the patient mentioned, her Lung energy (or: the ‘message’ that carries the influence of her Lungs around the body) passed into my finger, superimposed itself upon my own Qi waveform, so that the information (from her Lungs) was then ‘encoded’ into my own Qi, into the ‘Lung energy’ part of my own Qi waveform, and this information then circulated my body. Because the Lung energy surfaces at the front of the tongue, this information (the representation of the hay fever pathogen within her Lung system) surfaced there, and I became aware of it in the form of a tingling feeling. At other times, this same mechanism might simply cause me to sneeze as the ‘ghost’ of the patient’s Lung energy was superimposed onto my own.


FOOTNOTE 1 Some ancient texts state that the left side of the body is the Yang side and the right side is the Yin side. But I have always felt that this is wrong. And all my experience tells me that the left side is the Yin and the right the Yang, and all the evidence also indicates this. The Yin pulses are on the left wrist (Heart, Liver, Kidney Yin) and the Yang on the right wrist (Lung, Spleen, Kidney Yang, which are all relatively more Yang than the organs on the left, which, further, all relate to blood, which is itself a Yin substance). On the tongue, the left side relates to Yin (Liver) and the right to Yang (Gallbladder). The majority of people are right handed, with means that the right of their body is the more Yang side. All this physical evidence indicates that the left of the body is the Yin side and the right is the Yang side, and there is no physical evidence that indicates the opposite polarity—that I am aware of.