Sketchbook entry

Why does reading pulses make me belch?

by Fletcher Kovich


For a few years now, I have had this slightly embarrassing reaction to reading a patient’s pulses. At first it only happened now and then, perhaps with every third patient. But now it seems to happen with almost every one. I will place my fingers on the patient’s wrist to read the pulses of each of their main organs. With each patient, when I get to a particular organ, it makes me belch. And what’s more strange, is that it is a different quality belch with each patient. The belch originates in a different part of my chest, and the quality also varies. The particular quality of the belch, I’m certain, is related to the quality of the energy of whichever of the patient’s organ induced the belch in me.

When I first noticed this, it occurred to me that I might be able to use this phenomenon diagnostically, but over the years I have not yet been able to make sense of my clinical belches.

Since starting to practise acupuncture, I have experienced many unusual phenomenon. For instance, I now regularly feel a patient’s symptoms in my own body when I am standing near to a patient. At other times, when I am reading pulses, and I come to the pulse of an organ that is functioning in an unhealthy way in the patient, then I often feel the specific symptoms within me that that particular organ’s malfunctioning causes. At other times, I might feel an acupuncture point activating on myself (often a very localized burning sensation, or a stinging sensation, or simply a sudden sharp pain), which usually is simply telling me that that acupoint needs needling on the patient. All these apparently unusual phenomena, I have been able to work out a mechanism to explain. But so far I have not been able to imagine the mechanism that induces a very specific quality of belch within me when I read a patient’s pulses (such that the quality of the belch relates to the malfunctioning of that organ).

On Wednesday, I was discussing this with a patient and she suggested that I ask other acupuncturists. I had never done that. I think it had never occurred to me to ask them, since I somehow didn’t expect the majority of them to have experienced this. Anyhow, I thought it was a good idea. After seeing the patient out, there was another acupuncturist sat at the back of the clinic relaxing, and I described the phenomenon to him. He could not stop laughing. I didn’t get as far as asking him if he had ever experienced this himself; something about his reaction told me he hadn’t.

Anyhow, I thought I’d describe this phenomenon, just in case there are other acupuncturists who’ve experienced this. If there are, have you come up with a convincing explanation for it yet? The sensation always seems to begin somewhere along my Ren channel, anywhere between about Ren10 and Ren14, rather than a belch that originates in the stomach, and is a rising sensation, so this would seem to be "rebellious chi" on the Ren channel, which is somehow induced when the patient’s “chi pattern” (possibly associated with a particular organ) is reflected onto my own chi pattern.

Since writing the above, I think I have worked out what is happening (as a working hypothesis, anyway). I suspect I only experience this phenomenon when reading women’s pulses. The blockage, in these cases, seems to originate on my Ren channel over my lower abdomen. Relative to men, most women will have a chi blockage in this area, due to having a womb. When I read pulses, the patient’s chi pattern is superimposed onto my own, and it is this that accounts for all the sensations I feel. In the case of women, when their chi pattern is superimposed onto my own, I will feel a chi blockage on this portion of my Ren channel, and it is this that causes me to belch. I feel it as a “rebellious chi” sensation, rising up my Ren channel.

Over the coming weeks, I will test this hypothesis by closely monitoring which patients I experience this phenomenon with.

Most acupuncturists should not expect to feel such things. It is only because I am plagued (or blessed, depending on the situation) by being particularly “open” energetically, which readily allows other people’s energy to enter my own body and mingle with my energy.

22 September 2009

In last night’s session, I was treating a woman, aged 28, who was in the week before her period. I experienced a belch which started in me at a higher point that usual, at about Ren17. This point was tender on her. When in the presence of her energy, I was aware of a blockage in this region, which felt like it had cleared after I needled Ren17.

Do women often have a blockage on their Ren channel, due to their womb, and the energy blockage that is often present due to the menstrual cycle?

23 September 2009

In last night’s session, I was treating a man, aged 36, and reading his pulses made me belch. Again, the belch seemed to originate in my upper chest around Ren17. He had been experiencing chest pains and had a blockage at this point or just above (Kid 24-ish points).

Perhaps it is when a patient has a blockage on their Ren channel, that this then induces a belch in me, by transferring the blockage onto my Ren channel and me experiencing that “rebellious chi” rising up my own Ren channel?

24 September 2009

[FK. August 2017. I'd forgotten this article. When reading the opening part, I could hardly see, my eyes were watering so much from laughing. As far as I can recall, I haven't experienced this pulse-reading-belch for years. So, if any new patients should read this, please don't be disappointed if I fail to belch when reading your pulses.]