The Pulse Test: Book Review


Here’s a gem to add to your collection of tools for health. The author, Arthur Coca, MD, claims to have successfully treated the following symptoms as allergic: fatigue, high blood pressure, migraines, joint pain, sinusitis, skin eruptions, dizziness, heartburn, diabetes, depression, overweight, underweight, constipation, colitis, epilepsy and irritability.

How can this be? As Dr. Coca explains: the local effects of “food-allergy” are often seen to consist “…in an abnormal outflow of fluid (dilute plasma) from the small terminal blood vessels into the tissue where the fluid is prevented from a normal return to the circulation — through the lymph channels — by some obstruction, which is an essential part of the allergic process.” As a result, “swelling under pressure” develops in an affected area. If the affected area is your sinuses, you have sinusitis. If it is in your eyes, you have glaucoma. Outflow of fluid might also take the form of a runny nose. Remove the stimuli that provoke an allergic response and you immediately begin to relieve obstructing pressure in the area. Fluids begin to dissipate and the symptoms fade.

This is as technical as the book gets. Not all allergens will reveal themselves in the standard skin test. However, there is a detection method that is free, harmless, and only takes time and detailed observation to try out: check your pulse.

Step #1

According to Dr. Coca, all items that provoke an allergic response in your body will affect your pulse. The method involves getting familiar with your pulse. Making a chart is most helpful. This is the time-consuming part. For at least five days, record your pulse 14 times per day: in the morning before getting out of bed; before each meal; 30, 60 and 90 minutes after each meal; and just before going to bed. Except for the “before rising” check first thing in the morning, all the others should be done while sitting quietly. Also record everything you eat and drink.

  • Is your highest pulse-count more than 16 beats per minute faster than your lowest pulse-count? If so, you likely have an allergy.
  • Does your minimum pulse-rate regularly occur “before rising” in the morning? If it’s usually lower later in the day, you might have an inhalant allergy to something in your bedding or bedroom. (Allergens can be food or things you inhale: dust, smoke, perfume, etc.)
  • Take a pulse-count in standing. Is your pulse-count taken standing greater than that taken sitting? If so, this is a positive indication of present “allergic tension.”

* If you are a smoker, you must stop smoking for the duration of Step 1 and 2. According to Dr. Coca’s research, 75% of the population is allergic to tobacco. When you get to Step 3, you can test to see whether tobacco accelerates your pulse. But you must be off of it entirely for a few days in order for this test to be meaningful.

Step #2

Look over your chart. Find your lowest pulse-count. Add 12 to that number. Call this new number your “provisional normal maximum.” Now look at the meals that did not raise your pulse higher than this provisional max. For five days, limit your food intake to ingredients that your chart indicates will not take you above your normal max.

Continue keeping a chart — the same 14 pulse-counts per day and noting what you eat. If you stick to these foods, you may find that your pulse-counts drops several beats per minute giving you a new low and a new max.

Step #3

Check single ingredients. You’ll want to look in the book for clear instructions on how to do this. The goal is to expand your diet while avoiding anything that provokes pulse acceleration in you.

For the sake of charting, don’t worry too much about what else is going on in your days. From Dr. Coca’s clinical observations, “the normal pulse is not affected by ordinary physical activity nor by the psychological influences, nor by digestion of nonallergenic foods.” Indeed, one of his patients had such a stable pulse that his normal range was 2 beats per minute. His pulse-count was routinely 60 before rising and went up to 62 when he got out of bed. His pulse-count remained at 62 throughout his busy work days and after his meals as long as he stayed away from his “pulse-accelerating” foods.


My Experience

I did a thorough round of pulse tests a couple of years ago. And I’m going to do it again soon. What can I report? It’s a pain in the neck. I feel tied to my timer, for sure. And because one is supposed to sit quietly for a few minutes before each check, there’s a constant interruption in activities. But I think it’s worth it. There’s something to this.

When I did this last time, I was working on some thyroid issues and was in the habit of taking my body temp every morning before I got out of bed. Body temp can be a good indication of metabolism and physical stress. The pulse-count correlated with this. On mornings when my pulse count was accelerated, my body temp was below normal. When my pulse count was at my normal low, my body temp was comfortably toasty. I noticed that I felt calm and productive when my pulse was low and was more irritable and foggy-headed when it was above my normal max.

The book really only goes as far as identifying and encouraging you to avoid pulse-accelerating allergens. That alone can be a big help in taking some stress off the body. Interestingly, my list of irritants was confirmed last year when I consulted with a homeopath who also uses acupuncture to resolve allergies. I still have quite a list of foods better avoided, but those that we have treated for are able to return to my diet without stress reactions.

Get Your Own Copy

There’s lots of information in the book: interesting case histories as well as more instructions on how to do and interpret the test for yourself. I highly recommend it.

The Pulse Test: The Secret of Building Your Basic Health
Arthur F. Coca, M.D.

You can get the original, 1956 edition as a FREE pdf download:

You can get the 1994 revised edition from Amazon and other book sellers.


What about you?

Any personal allergens you have discovered and learned to avoid? Results?

Have you tried to implement what you learned from The Pulse Test? Any tips for others on how to do this more efficiently or effectively?

Any other allergy comments you’d like to share?