Pulse diagnosis is an ancient Ayurvedic method of detecting the existing status of a person’s health and vitality. If you learn how to do it, you may be able detect the early stages of disease and sometimes nip it in the bud before it gets worse.
Although it can take years to perfect, the basic technique is really simple. The first position of the pulse is nearest to the wrist crease below the thumb and is taken with the index finger, it relates to Vata. The middle finger is placed next to the index finger further down the wrist, it relates to Pitta. The third finger is placed next to the middle finger, the pulse at this point relates to Kapha.
Vata has a slithering irregular pulse rather like the movement of a snake moving over the ground. It can be narrow or thread like, particularly in females. Sometimes it can be difficult to find and even if it is easy to locate, there can be a distinctive irregular quality. Like the element of wind, it is changeable.
Pitta pulses are bounding like an invigorated frog. They are tight, firm and distinct, rising and falling suddenly. Like flickering flames of fire, they dance.
Kapha pulses move gracefully like a swan, they are even and wavy. Broad and wide, they have a flowing quality. Their volume and rhythm display harmony and balance. Like the element of water they move as a river does, in women they can be harder to find than in men.
Sudden changes rather than gradual onset of disease or weather is likely to bring radical and quick changes to the pulse. Climatic conditions, diet and also emotion flux can influence the pulse. For instance if there is fear, worry or stress, this can stimulate the Vata pulse. A sudden increase in air temperature can add Pitta attributes to the pulse, whereas a sweet meal will reflect in the Kapha pulse. Exercise and life-style can also influence the quality and rate of the pulse, so these factors must always be considered when examining a patient. If one goes from rest to activity rapidly, the pulse rates will suddenly shoot up.
Acute inflammatory diseases, especially fevers due to infections, or acute illnesses of the organs, bring a dramatic increase to the pulse. Slow onset diseases and conditions of chronicity show a weakened strength to the pulse, the changes in these cases are usually slow rather than radical or quick.
By becoming more familiar with the subtleties of the pulse we can increase our depth of understanding subtle changes in people's health. It takes much practice and concentration, but can be most useful and rewarding!