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February 15, 2011

What is “high blood pressure” called in Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:18 am

What does a Chinese doctor say when he tells you that you have “high blood pressure”?

This is a trick question. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is no word for what Western doctors call “high blood pressure” or hypertension. 

Chinese doctors do not normally take your blood pressure.  I’ve been going to a Chinese clinic for acupuncture treatments and I finally got up the nerve to ask the doctor why he never takes a blood pressure reading.

He explained that he doesn’t need to use a blood pressure monitor because when he feels a person’s pulse, he can determine if the pulse is “too tight.” When the pulse is “too tight,” this is an indication that you have what Western doctors call “high blood pressure.”  He told me that he had determined that my pulse is “too strong,” but not “too tight.”

In Western medicine, a strong pulse is called “bounding pulse” and it means that you can feel your pulse “bounding” in your arteries.  Imagine that you want to check your pulse by putting your fingers on your carotid artery on your neck, but you don’t have to use your fingers because your carotid artery is throbbing so strongly that you can count the beats of your pulse — that is what is known as “bounding pulse” in Western medicine.

My Chinese doctor is usually not very talkative, although he speaks English very well.  I have deduced that he is familiar with Western medicine, although he is not an M.D.  Yesterday, I finally told him that I had been diagnosed with “high blood pressure” by a Western doctor who had prescribed pills to lower my blood pressure down to 115/70, but I had stopped taking the pills after about 3 weeks when my blood pressure went down to 112/70.  His reply was “115/70 is good — for a teenager.  For a person your age (77), a reading between 130 and 140 is good.  At your age, your body would not be able to function properly if your blood pressure was 115/70.”

I’ve been to Western doctors enough to know that the first thing the nurse does, before you even see the doctor, is to take a blood pressure reading.  The reading is taken soon after you walk into the office and usually the nurse talks to you during the procedure.  I have my own home blood pressure monitoring device and I take my blood pressure reading every day.  The directions for my monitor say that you should sit down and remain quiet for at least 5 minutes before starting the monitor.

I have learned ways to keep my blood pressure down without taking medication.  The best way is to eat food that is high in potassium, such as bananas and avocado, and avoid foods that are high in sodium, such as soup. Through trial and error, I have also discovered that apples are the best food to lower blood pressure.  You know the old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Lowering blood pressure through eating the right foods will never result in a reading of 112/70 which is achieved through taking blood pressure medication.  You will never see a banana or an avocado with a stamp on it that says “Don’t drive or operate machinery after eating.”  although you will find this warning on your blood pressure medication.

I have also found that meditating will lower blood pressure and so will exercise.  Try to explain that.

The best way to raise blood pressure is by getting overly upset about something.

Anyway, to get back to the subject of Chinese medicine, my doctor tells me that my current problems with “strong pulse” are caused by a weak heart muscle.  He gave me some different herbs to strengthen my heart and after taking them for only one day, my “strong pulse” is going away. He told me that next week, he will give me some herbs for the heart that are even stronger.

Excuse me while I eat an apple now; I don’t want any Western doctors to come after me.


  1. Hi,I am facing the same problem as you. Any physician to recommend?

    Comment by Lancer Er — July 30, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

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