This section is from the book "The Beverages of the Chinese; Kung-fu or Tauist Medical Gymnastics; the Population of China; A Modern Chinese Anatomist and A Chapter in Chinese Surgery.", by John Dudgeon. Also available from Amazon: Kung Fu, or Taoist Medical Gymnastics.
In regard to the nature of the pulse, what I inform posterity is the truth; if there are those who speak or write not according to what they know, or believe and assert themselves to be genii and do not conscientiously discourse of things, they must suffer punishments at the hands of Heaven. The c'hi-fu stores air; the hsieh-fu stores blood; the air from the c'hi-fu which comes from the wei-tsung vessel passes through the whole body whence the name; the jung-tsung vessel from the hsieh-fu travels all through the body and hence its name. The wei-tsung vessel is thick and coarse; it lies in front of the spine, connects with it and is distributed to the head, face and four extremities. That which lies close to the tendons and bones throughout the body is the air vessel. The jung-tsung vessel is thin. Lautse says in the Tao-teh-king, man's blood is the jung, the air is the wei. The Nei-ching says when the wei does not move the five viscera are not pervious and delicate and lies in front of and communicates with the wei-tsung vessel and is distributed to the head, face and four extremities and lies close to the skin and muscles and out of which arise the blood vessels of the whole body. The air in the c'hi-fu goes out and in. The exit and ingress are the expiration and inspiration; the eyes see, the ears hear, the head rotates, the body moves, the hand grasps, the feet walk, are one and all owing to the ling-chipressing the air to circulate; it percolates out of the vessel and grows the flesh; the air vessels lie near the tendons and bones and therefore concealed in the inside and so difficult to see; the blood vessels lie near the skin and flesh and appear externally and are therefore easily discernible. The air moves in the air vessels and thus the vessels move; the blood vessels store the blood and do not move. When the vessels of the head, face and limbs are pressed, they pulsate; this is owing to the air not to the blood. In the hollow called the tai-yangthe temple), behind the superciliary ridge, there is only skin and bone, little flesh, and hence the air pulsating is distinctly felt in the head and face air vessel. In the foot between the large and second toe there is a pulse on account of there being little flesh there and the skin connects with the bone and communicates with the two air vessels of the foot. In the two hands above the transverse wrinkles on the high bone (on the radius at the wrist), the flesh is small and the skin lies on the bone and so it pulsates and connects with the two air vessels of the arm. The air vessels are large and small, straight and crooked; every person is not the same; below the elbow, near the carpus, the flesh is thick, the superficial air vessels are short; if the flesh be thin the vessels appear long. For example if we come under the influence of the external air and it enters the vessels, these vessels become large, and on pressure they feel high or elevated; if cold gets admittance the chin-ye coagulates andl then the air becomes obstructed and the pulse necessarily slow; if fire (inflammation) enters the c'hi-kwan the pulse moves quickly; if a person is robust the thievish or deflected air from the outside excessive, the air in the vessels great, the pulse becomes very strong. On the other hand if man is weak, the perfect or original air insufficient and the air in the vessels inadequate, then the pulse becomes small and without strength; if a person is sick for a long time, and there is no hope of recovery, the original air little, the air travels to the head and upper extremities but does not descend to the lower parts so that there is no pulse in the face of the foot; if the pulse in the air vessels of two wrists is small like a thread or a very little movement or no movement or intermittent it indicates that the air is nearly exhausted. The air vessels in man therefore from birth to death are all different; they are large, small, straight or crooked. Their length or shortness varies according to the thickness or thinness of the flesh at the wrist. If you press it you will find whether it is large or small by its being weak or strong. When it pulsates quickly and slowly it is owing to fire and cold respectively.
What I have said above relates to the pulse, although I have not once mentioned the word (i.e. in the Chinese text), only spoken of movement, because the ancients did not know that there were right and left air doors, air and blood residences, wei and jung-tsung vessels, a chin-men and chin-hwan, the tsung-ti covering the food and the lung or exit water vessel.
All these parts are in the abdomen and have their functions, of which the ancients were altogether ignorant. The ancients discoursed on the viscera and pericardium but did not know what they were, neither did they determine the ching-lo and the san-chiao three divisions and they could not tell whether the ching-lo were air or blood vessels. In discoursing on the pulse they said it was the 'blood residence' and communicated with the whole body, so that according to them the pulse vessels are blood vessels and contain air and blood circulating round and round. According to the ancients blood-flowing-discourse, if the blood of one part can flow to another part, the other part must have a hole or receptacle for receiving it, but if there be a hollow empty place anywhere then the blood is insufficient, and if there be no empty place whither does the blood flow? The ancients did not know that the pulse was the air vessels, although they discoursed on a great variety of pulses and their positions in which every man was different. They said there were 27 characters or sorts and I dare not say they were wrong in their doctrine of the pulse, not because they have not a leg to stand upon (in Chinese no footing for their views) but because posterity in their treatment of disease would have no doctrine of the pulse to go upon. By feeling the pulse and knowing whether a person is going to live or die is easy, but to decide on the disease is difficult. In curing disease according to important methods the difference between blood and air must be distinguished, whether it is derived from without or set up from within and wish to know at the very beginning, if the disease can injure the individual, what things cannot injure the viscera cannot injure the tendons, and bones cannot injure the skin and flesh; these things that injure must be either blood or air; we cannot escape from these two causes. The air is either weak or strong (hsuor shih; the latter is the deflected or outside air, the former is its own original weakness. If the air is weak it must be of the order of the hemiplegic diseases, of which there are forty different sorts; of infantile convulsions there are twenty sorts which all belong to the weak diseases. According as diseases arise from weakness of air, our blood is either kwei(little or impoverished) or u.i.e. coagulated and must be owing to some cause; the former is owing to haemoptysis, or spitting coloured phlegm coloured with blood, or hæmaturia, or bloody stools, or injury somewhere and blood escapes, or menorrhagia (peng-low or post partum haemorrhage and much blood is lost and so greatly injured. These are blood kwei diseases. Of diseases depending on the blood u we have further on mentioned fifty sorts, but if the blood in the ' blood residence' is coagulated and not movable and therefore difficult to distinguish the blood in the ' blood residence' and coagulated blood as for example in diseases that are feverish for half the afternoon and still worse during the first part of the night; the morning lighter and in the forenoon no fever, this is owing to be coagu-lated blood in the ' blood residence.' When the coagulated blood becomes lighter the diseases do not divide into four portions and the feverishness comes at one time before and after sunset and still lighter only at one time, both inside and outside are hot. After mid-day the body is cold and there is a short period of heat. This condition is owing to insufficiency of the air and ginseng and hwang-chi(astragulus hwang-chi) must be used, if at sunrise the body is not hot and then hot for a little, ginseng and fu-tse (tuberous roots of Aconitum Fischeri) are the remedies and they must not all be mixed up together.