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The Mysteries of the Age-Old Pulse

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In ancient times, the pulse had a lofty position in medical practice. Physicians viewed it not only as a surrogate for the heart but also as evidence of the health of other organs. In this chapter, the historical significance of the pulse in ancient Egypt, China and India, Greek and Rome, and Medieval Europe and the modern understanding of the pulse are discussed.


Very often conditions are recorded as observable “under thy fingers”… Among such observations it is important to notice that the pulsations of the human heart are observed.―James Henry Breasted (1865–1935), archeologist, on the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, c. 1600 BCE

I love yoga... I also see an Ayurvedic doctor, which is an ancient Indian thing. I go and see the doctor to balance my system twice a year; it’s preventative. They take my pulse, give me some herbs, and tell me what I should eat and what I should avoid.―Jerry Hall

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Correspondence to J. Anthony Gomes .

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Gomes, J.A. (2021). The Mysteries of the Age-Old Pulse. In: Rhythms of Broken Hearts. Springer, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-77381-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-77382-3

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