Let me take your pulse (让我把你的脉)

René made a trip to the White Cloud Taoist Temple (白云寺) on the weekend. While at the temple he stumbled on a Taoist medical clinic tucked away in one of the western courtyards. He decided to have a check-up for the cost of his entrance ticket: RMB10!

The Taoist doctor did nothing more than take René's pulse. He used his left hand to check Rene’s pulse on his right hand. In traditional Chinese medicine, the physician usually uses his left hand to check the patient’s right side pulse, and the right hand to check the patient’s left side pulse.

As he took René’s pulse, he felt an invisible pathway of qi (气) running up my right arm and making their way to my lower back. After a couple of minutes the doctor looked up and said: ‘Your kidneys and the lower part of your body lack the fire element and you have a few digestive issues.’

The Taoist doctor’s prescription: ‘six pieces of cinnamon and a Chinese herb called shudi or shudihuang 熟地黄(rehmannia root) placed into the stomach of a carp and stewed in a pot. Drink the soup, and then eat the fish’ (rehmannia is used to replenish the vital energies of the body and purports to help with diabetes, constipation, urinary tract problems, anemia, and dizziness).

René learned several new words including ‘let me take your pulse.’ In Chinese medicine, doctors usually follow four methods of diagnosis which included ‘feeling the patients pulse.’ The Taoist doctor who diagnosed René said:

Let me take your pulse

A variation of that in colloquial speech is to duplicate  把:


Several weeks earlier, René recalled that at an acupuncture workshop he attended at Beijing Normal University, a Chinese doctor had mentioned that gifted or skilful doctors were often compared to great and revered doctors in China’s distant past:

Ban Que is reborn

Hua Tuo reappears

Ban Que is a pseudonym of a famous physician during the Warring States Period (fifth century BCE) called Qin Yueren (秦越人). Hua Tuo was a physician of the Eastern Han (206 BCE-220 CE) and is often revered as the most skilful physician of his time.

Recalling his Taoist doctor experience at White Cloud Temple, René sent a text message to his Chinese friend who worked in a public relations company:

I went to a Chinese doctor yesterday and he took my pulse….

浩脉 or 浩浩脉 is also used to mean ‘take one’s pulse.’

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