What do Traditional Herbalists read in their coffee breaks?

Well I am working through Matthew Wood’s latest opus, Traditional Western Herbalism and Pulse Evaluation   . A North American herbalist, Matthew, in this book is attempting, to define a contemporary but traditional western practice of pulse diagnosis. Matthew is the first to admit that perhaps no herbalist can be a definitive authority on this technique – it is a very subjective practice.

wood pulse

His journey for this book began with a dissatisfaction with the limitations of Chinese Pulse diagnosis and is the fruit of “conversations” with acupuncturist Francis Bonaldo and accomplished “Southern” Herbalist Phyllis Light. . I am relieved to read that others in the herbal tradition struggle to discern the principle pulses of Traditional Chinese Medicine and more importantly, feels pulses they can’t fit into the categories. What comes across in the book is the immediacy, and universality amongst traditional herbalists of many times and places, of that considered palpation of arteries which is pulse evaluation.

Traditional herbalism depends heavily on reading of signs and patterns, experience and skilled judgement. Evaluating the pulse is one element of the pattern I seek in having a consultation with a patient. It is one very good reason why the best herbal remedies are prescribed after “seeing” a patient, meeting them in person. I am hoping that this book will deepen my understanding of what I am feeling when I “listen” to your pulse and sharpen my skill in matching my remedies with your predicament


About donaldpurves

Traditional Herbalist since 1989, qualified originally with National Institute of Medical Herbalists (Tutorial Course, School of Herbal Medicine/Phytotherapy), joined Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners in 2011. University lecturer in Herbal Medicine since 2005. Born and brought up in the Scottish Borders. Higher Education at University of York (Biology 1980) and Scottish School of Herbal Medicine (MSc Herbal Medicine 2003). Married to Rukshana Afia, an artist working with drawing, textiles and ceramics. Passionate about environmental, economic and social justice.
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