Acupuncture Ecology

Contemporary Chinese Pulse Diagnosis

Long before the advent of X-rays, Chinese practitioners discovered a way to assess the body’s function by using their five senses and their brains. One of the most common ways of medical assessment in Chinese medicine is pulse diagnosis. Yet, while palpating the pulse at the radial arteries is a common practice in Chinese medicine, there are many different methods of doing so.

Acupuncture Ecology is one of the few clinics of Chinese medicine worldwide practicing Contemporary Chinese Pulse Diagnosis (CCPD), a method that is unique in its sensitivity and depth.

Why is this important?

The value of CCPD is in the amount of information it provides for diagnosis and treatment. CCPD is an exquisite and sophisticated means of understanding the whole person and provides insight into patients according to:

  • The patient’s constitution
  • Birth and childhood issues
  • Physical and emotional traumas
  • Environmental stressors
  • Effects of lifestyle
  • Effects of relationships
  • Emotional states
  • Behavioral patterns
  • Previous illnesses

Through a thorough examination of minutiae of qualities, sensations, and structure of the artery, many things can be deduced and treatment may be more keenly guided by the physician.

Thus, this method is suitable for providing insight into the complicated modern diseases and constitutional imbalances that affect modern man in an industrial world.

Contemporary Chinese Pulse Diagnosis is a complex system, with many intricacies. Learning the system requires significant amounts of hands-on training with a certified teacher.

CCPD is also valuable for the ongoing efforts of its practitioners to research and understand how new developments in individual and social behavior is affecting our health and thus influencing the pulse. Signs of toxicity and exposure to electromagnetic radiation, for instance, are among the topics being explored by modern-day practitioners of pulse diagnosis.

Contemporary Chinese Pulse Diagnosis is truly a treasure which can change the lives of patients. By employing such a method of refined sensitivity, even the subtlest deviations from this norm can be detected, thus establishing its importance not only in treating disease, but also as preventative medicine.



Contemporary Chinese Pulse Diagnosis was developed by the late Chinese master John H.F. Shen, a world-renowned diagnostician who belonged to the Ding family lineage. In China, it was common for important information and skills to be passed down along bloodlines; as respect for one’s ancestry was paramount, this was a way of making sure that powerful secrets remained under control.

Dr. Shen’s teachers have remained obscure and unnamed for a variety of reasons, some of them probably related to fears of persecution by the Chinese government.

This lineage and Dr. Shen’s contribution to Chinese medicine was mentioned in Chinese medical scholar Volker Scheid’s 2007 book, Currents of Tradition in Chinese Medicine, 1626-2006.

Dr. Shen immigrated to the United States and eventually took an apprentice, a medical doctor named Leon Hammer, M.D., who studied with him for over 25 years and systematized and popularized the method. Dr. Hammer is the author of Dragon Rises, Red Bird Flies: Psychology and Chinese Medicine, as well as the well-regarded textbook, Chinese Pulse Diagnosis: A Contemporary Approach.

Read a summary of CCPD by Dr. Hammer.

For a patient’s view of CCPD, please read this article in Ode Magazine.


Read about the Comprehensive Diagnosis process at Acupuncture Ecology to understand how pulse diagnosis fits in to the big picture.