Naadi pariksha (Pulse diagnosis)
One of the significant diagnostic procedures or techniques of the Ayurvedic system of medicne is Naadi pariksha (Pulse diagnosis). The first Ayurvedic treatise to mention details of pulse examination is Saarangadhara Samhita, created in 13th century AD. Later on, Ayurvedic texts like Bhavaprakasa written in 15th century AD, Yogaratnakara written in 16th century AD., and Basavarajeeyam written in 17th century AD., deals in detail with the Naadi pariksha.
Naadi pariksha is the ancient science and art of detecting the current status of a person's body, mind, spirit and soul. Nadi (pulse) represents vital flow of life or energy which passages subtle channels of circulation all over the body. This vital flow of life or energy enables the ayurvedic physician or vaidya to detect the patterns of the blood spurts from the heart. For a skilled ayurvedic physician or vaidya, taking nadi is more than counting the beats per minute.
The health and functioning of the whole mind- body constitution is determined from the nadi, including the balance of the three biological humours, the healthy state of the human organs, alarming signs of potential diseases that may attack at later stage. With help of pulse-examination, ayurvedic physician or vaidya detects early symptoms of imbalance among three biological humours and disease reactions in the human body. Based on the conclusion of the pulse examination, we can take preventive measures to solve the disease before it can manifest into a serious problem.
Classical nadi (pulse) examination
Radial pulse can be felt normally with the help of first three fingers (the index, middle and ring). For this purpose, pulse examination can be read from both the wrists. To get accurate result from the pulse examination, the patient is required to close to his norm as much as possible. If pulse is taken after exposure to a severe environment and strong exertion, it has impact on result of pulse examination.
- The position of the index finger corresponds to the biological air, Vata. When vata has strong participation in the constitution, the index finger is in a position to feel the pulse in strong fashion. The character of pulse is thin and irregular. The movement is like waves or motion of a serpentine pattern. Hence, vata type of pulse is referred to as snake pulse.
- The position of the middle finger corresponds to the biological fire, Pitta dosha. When pitta has strong participation in the constitution, the pulse under the middle finger is firma and stronger. The movement is excited or active. The movement is like jumping of a frog. Hence, pitta type of pulse is referred to as frog pulse.
- The position of the ring finger corresponds to the biological water, kapha. When one feels throbbing of the pulse in the ring finger, is represents typical sign of Kapha constitution. The character of pulse is strong. The movement is similar to floating of a swan. Hence, kapha type of pulse is referred to as swan pulse.
The diagnosis of the disease is largely based on pulse examination. An expert Ayurvedic doctor is in a position to tell about the disease process by examining the pulse.
Detailed investigation includes:
- Interrogation of the patient in terms of body constitution, exercising and digestive capacity,
- Objective examination to assess the progress of the disease,
- Examination by inference like colour of skin, urine, and state of the pupil.
Accuracy of the pulse examination
The pulse examination reveals mental and physical characteristics of the pulse. The mental and physical characteristics are interpreted as symptoms along with prognosis which gives understanding the underlying cause. Thus, pulse examination forms the basis for detecting any diseases in a personl.
The accuracy of the pulse examination depends on two factors:
- The awareness of the individual
- To understand and interpret the subtle nature of the vibrations.
The five basic elements (Panchamahabhutas) are ether, air, fire, water and earth. The three biological humours or doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha) are derived from combination of The five basic elements.
- Ether plus Air = Vata, the biological air,
- Fire plus Water = Pitta the biological fire,
- Water plus Earth = Kapha the biological water.
Any imbalance in the three biological humours results in disease. Each of three biological humours have their physical, mental, emotional, and physiological characteristics.
Proficiency in nadi pariksha is gained by alertness, long clinical practice, and proper guidance from the mentor. Although learning to detect the disease process from nadi pariksha is area belonging to the Ayurvedic physician, one can become familiar with own nadi and have overview into three biological humours. Once we have worked the biological humours we can easily correlate the humours to pre-mentioned attributes, symptomatology of corresponding humours in the Ayurvedic texts. From this very much database, we are in a position to get information regarding three biological humours.