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Pulse diagnosis

Pulse diagnosis or Pulse Examination is a diagnostic technique used in Asian Traditional medicines such as Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and early Greek medicine. Advocates claim that by taking a pulse examination, humoral imbalances such as the three Doshas - Vata, Pitta, and Kaphha - of Ayurveda can be diagnosed. In addition, there are sophisticated family traditions of Chinese Pulse diagnosis that allow for identifying conditions in the channel systems or the organs. These methods are used to identify the quality and location of certain kinds of disorders. The Unani system of medicine also uses pulse examination, as part of Astavidha Pareeksha (eightfold patient examination). In homeopathy, pulse diagnosis is used to guide the selection of medicine. The claim is that different medicines produce different types of pulse throbbing as the medicine affects the body. Different types of pulse include: full pulse, round pulse, bouncing pulse, strong pulse, felt pulse allover, intermittent, irregular, rapid, tachycardia, slow pulse brady cardia, soft, compressible, weak fluttering, imperceptible, etc.

Similar concepts appear in modern Western medicine. For example, certain kinds of heart attacks, such as ventricular fibrillation, may be identified by feeling the pulse and characterizing its speed, strength, and rhythm. A fast, weak, thready pulse might indicate certain kinds of heart failure or shock from blood loss. A pulse present in the upper arm, but not at the wrist, is indicative of unusually low blood pressure. Certain kinds of cardiac dysrhythmias (irregular rhythms), such as ventricular tachycardia or atrial fibrillation, may be diagnosed by overt patient symptoms and feeling of the pulse, and characterizing its speed, strength, and rhythm.

Also, ventricular defibrillation is a procedure done emergently with an AED or defibrillator paddles or patches in a Code Blue situation when a patient is in ventricular fibrillation. Heart attacks, or myocardial infarctions, are diagnosed with ECG readings, cardiac enzymes from blood draws, the history and presentation of the patient's symptoms, and physical exam findings. Cardiogenic shock presenting from an acute MI could include the physical findings of a weak or thready pulse.


Origin of pulse diagnosis

Pulse diagnosis in Ayurveda is mentioned for the first time in the book Bhav Prakash, written about 700 years ago by Bhav Mishra, a noted Ayurvedic Physician of South India. His book describes the nature of pulse throbbings, and pulsation style readings. The nature of the pulsating movement and style is compared with the movement of the smaller animals and creatures, like snakes, birds, frogs etc. Before Bhav Prakash, classic pulse diagnosis or Nādi Parīkshaṃ is not seen in any book.

The earliest texts on Chinese pulse diagnosis are circa 100 common era in the Han Dynasty. Wang Shu-he's Pulse Classic (Mai Jing), the Difficult Classic (Nan Jing) and the Yellow Emperor's Classic (Huang Di Nei Jing) were all first recorded in theh early part of the Han Dynasty. They contain methods for diagnosing the Eight Extraordinary Vessels, Six Channels, Twelve Organs and processes including the various forms of pathogens at the emotional and physical levels. Other traditions of pulse diagnosis are taught through family lineages such as the famous Shanghai Ding family lineage [1].


  • to quantify the status of the three Doshas, i.e. Vata, Pitta, Kaphha, to determine whether they are in normal or abnormal state in the body.
  • to diagnose certain disease conditions, and normal and abnormal health conditions.
  • to observe the pulse's speed, movement, its pulse rate per minute, its rhythm, character, volume and condition

Classical pulse exmination

The classical method of pulse examination among the Vaidya or Ayurvedic Practitioners is performed in the same manner as it was centuries ago. The Radial Pulse is examined by holding the hand by left hand for support. The right hand's three finger's tips, first, middle and third finger, are kept slightly pressed on the radial pulse at the Radial Fossa. The throbbing nature of the pulse is observed mentally by the physician. Vata is observed from the first (distal) finger tip, Pitta is observed from the second (middle) finger tip, Kaphha is observed from the third (proximal) finger tip.

Interpretation of pulse

If the sick person is affected by an excess of Vata Dosha, the throbbing of pulse will be more powerfully felt below the tip of first finger. If the patient is suffering from the pitta dosha, the throbbing of the pulse will be felt below the tip of the Middle finger, if the throbbing of the pulse is felt under the third finger, kaphha dosha is observed. If throbbing of the pulse is felt below the first and second finger , it means the patient is suffering from the combined two doshas. If throbbing of Pulse is felt under the first and third finger tip, it means the sick is affected from Vata and Kaphha Dosha. If the throbbing pulse is felt below the tip of second and third finger, that means the patient is suffering from the Pitta and Kaphha Dosha. If throbbing is felt below all three finger tips that means the patient is suffering from all three doshas, which is also called sannipat dosha.


  • Chikitsa Chandroya by Hari Das Vaidya, published by Hari Das and Co. Mathura, India.
  • Bhav Prakash, classic Ayurved Book.
  • Electrotridoshagraphy, an invention in Ayurved, The Moral weekly News Magazine, Kanpur, India July, August,September, October 2005 issues.
  • Electrotridoshagram, Scientific Journal of Panchakarma, published by Napar, Ujjain,M.P. India July 2005 issue.
  • Ayurved ki Nai Shodha, Electrotridoshagram, Mystic India monthly magazine, New Delhi, India, December 2005 issue.
  • Boerick Homeopathic Repertory.
  • Kent's Repertory.
  • Hammer, L. (2001). Chinese pulse diagnosis a contemporary approach. In (pp. 76). Seattle: Eastland Press.
  • Morris, W. R. (2002). Eight extra vessel pulse diagnosis: A path to effective treatment. (January.
  • Morris, W. R. (2002). Pulse diagnosis using the elemental compass method. Acupuncture Today(August)[2].
  • Morris, W. R. (2003). Neoclassical pulse diagnosis and the six channels. Acupuncture Today )[3].
  • R. B. Amber, A. M. B.-B. (1966). The pulse in occident and orient. New York: Dunshaw Press.
  • Unschuld, P. t. (200 CE). Nan jing. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  • Wang, S. (1997). The pulse classic a translation of the mai jing: Blue Poppy Press.
  • Wu NL, W. A. T. (1996). Yellow emperor's canon of internal medicine: China Science and Technology Press.
  • Yubin, L. (1996). Pulse diagnosis. Beijing: Shandong Science and Technology Press.

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pulse_diagnosis". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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