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Finger-tip diagnosis
Clinical supervisor Don Clarke takes a pulse at the Northern College Of Acupuncture in Micklegate, York
Clinical supervisor Don Clarke takes a pulse at the Northern College Of Acupuncture in Micklegate, York

IF you're feeling under the weather and don't know why, a trip to your local pulse reader probably isn't the first thing that springs to mind.

But professionals at the Northern College Of Acupuncture, in Micklegate, York, swear by the technique as an accurate method of diagnosing a whole range of health problems.

Curious as to how the finger-tips alone can tell you so much about a patient's state of health, I visited the college to speak to its clinical supervisor, Don Clarke.

He said: "Reading someone's pulse can tell you a massive amount about a patient and it still astounds me even today.

"It's done with three fingers and there are different positions on both wrists which tell you about different organ systems in the body. It's a vital method of getting the information to decide which points to choose for acupuncture, or which herbs to give."

Don said the pulse had many different dimensions of rate, rhythm, depth, strength, rate and width - with each of these dimensions changing in ways that reflect the health and well-being of the person.

He said: "Depending on how hard or how soft, or how forcefully or how smooth, or how rapid the pulse feels, you can tell what is happening in organs such as the lungs, the stomach, the kidneys, the heart and the gall bladder.

"Experienced pulse readers can even detect serious illnesses that might not as yet be showing any symptoms.

"They can tell you the history of what is happening, how long that person has been suffering from a certain problem and what is likely to happen in the future."

He added: "If somebody has had a heart transplant when they were younger, they would know that from the pulse because of the scars."

But the college's clinical director, Alison Gould, said the art of pulse diagnosis - which dates back 2,000 years to the early Han Dynasty in China - was not always recognised by GPs.

She said: "We are sometimes able to identify when something is seriously wrong with a patient and recommend that they go to their GP for tests.

"But when all they can say is that they've been told their pulse suggests there is something wrong, it's often difficult to get a quick referral.

"We need to develop a way of communicating with doctors because I think it could help to save lives."

The Northern College Of Acupuncture runs a pulse-diagnosis course.

It is a notoriously difficult art to teach, but the Shen-Hammer system of teaching used at the college provides a structure that helps students to progress quicker.

For more information about the pulse diagnosis course or to book an appointment at the clinic, phone the college on 01904 343303, or log on to www.chinese-medicine.co.uk

8:51am Friday 31st August 2007

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