This article starts by outlining the challenge of pulse diagnosis and the problems that can arise in getting to grips with the 28+ pulses of Chinese medicine. It goes on to offer a way of meeting this challenge: the Three Step System of Chinese Pulse Reading. It presents the Three Steps in a systematic and simple way, highlighting confusions that can arise in the translation of Chinese pulse images into English, and shows how the Three Step System can make accessible a subject that sometimes seems difficult and unapproachable.
Keywords Pulse diagnosis, Chinese pulse characters, Chinese medicine, teaching.
This article reports on a highly significant, high-quality randomised controlled trial to determine whether GP referral to a short course (up to 10 individualised sessions) of traditional acupuncture might improve longer term outcomes for patients with chronic low back pain in primary care, and at a cost that would be affordable by the NHS. 241 patients were recruited to the trial with 160 being randomised to the acupuncture group and 81 to the control group which received usual GP care alone. The results indicate that when patients in primary care with low back pain are referred to a BAcC acupuncturist for a short course of treatment, they will, on average, improve over time and show greater improvement than if they had received usual GP care alone. Although the course of acupuncture only lasted around 3 months, their situation improved over time, and continued to improve between 12 and 24 months. The authors' recommendation from this study is that GPs should consider referring patients with low back pain to a qualified acupuncturist.