pulse analysis

Pulse Analysis
A healthy pulse is thick and strong
A sick pulse is thick and dull, or sluggish
- Náæíprakaäham: Ch. 2 verse 4
Pulse Analysis: This is a science in itself. Although
it takes many years to become proficient in this
practice, pulse reading offers many insights, including
doßha knowledge, general health, and organ
health. Since pulse reading requires much skill,
one may decide the prak^iti (constitution) and
vik^iti (illness) without even using pulse analysis.
Two Áyurvedic texts deal exclusively with the
intricacies of pulse analysis: Náæívijñánam (meaning
the science or knowledge of pulse diagnosis),
by Máháriähi Kanada (circa 7th century B.C.), and
Náæíprakaßham by £ha´kar Sen (19th-20th Century
AD). The basic belief is that the pulse reveals
different qualities, rates, and temperatures, and
appears stronger in different positions for each
Pulse analysis takes a long time to master, and
many factors may cause inaccurate readings, so it
is advised not to take pulses under certain conditions.
Time of Taking Pulse: The pulse is read or analyzed
when the patient and practitioner are at rest.
Náæíprakaßham suggests taking the pulse in the
morning, when the pulse is cool (afternoon pulse
is hot; evening pulse is fast). The ideal constitution
(doßha) pulse is read upon waking in the morning
(before 10:00 a.m.), after expelling stool and
urine, and before eating.
Constitution Pulse: 6:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Illness (Imbalance) Pulse: 10:00 a.m. on.
Finding the Pulse
Two schools of thought exist on this subject.
The author of Náæívijñánam suggests that the index
finger be placed on the radial pulse of the wrist,
just under the thumb (see the diagram below). The
middle finger is placed just under the index finger
(but not resting on the bony protrusion [radial tubercle]),
and the ring finger is placed closest to the
A second school suggests the index finger
should be placed on the radial pulse below the flex
in the wrist (i.e., two finger widths below the thumb
root). As before, the other two fingers are positioned
below it. In both cases, finger pressure on
the wrist is applied lightly.
Some suggest taking the pulse of the right hand
for men, and the left hand for women (except when
they have a fever). Others suggest checking both
pulses. When taking one’s own pulse, males use
their left hand and take the right pulse. Females
take the left-hand pulse with their right hand The practitioner’s left palm supports the
patient’s elbow, with the right hand fingers pressing
the artery. The patient’s elbow and wrist are
slightly bent. Finger pad tops are soft and can easily
read the pulses. Fingers are placed between the
wide bone below the thumb and the thin bones (in
the middle of the wrist Pulse Quality
A most interesting and unusual method to learn
the constitution (prak^iti) or present imbalance
(vik^iti) is the quality of the pulse. When the doßhas
are aggravated, the pulse expresses itself in various
Váyu pulses have the personality or quality of a
snake, feeling quick, thin, thready, irregular, and
crooked, with symptoms of nervousness, indigestion,
Váyu fevers.
Pitta pulses feel like a frog: bounding or jumpy,
regular (or if irregular, it has a consistent pattern),
with symptoms of heat, insomnia, diarrhea, vertigo,
hypertension, eye, or skin problems. When
the pulse is also felt as wiry, hard, stiff, and fast,
there are corresponding symptoms of Pitta asthma,
rheumatism, gout, chronic headaches, and bleeding
Kapha pulses are swan-like: regal, slow, and constant.
Some people say it is a warm pulse, while
others say it is cold. Related symptoms are coughing,
melancholy, constipation, bronchial disorders,
and overweight.
Váyu/Pitta pulses alternate between snake and frog
qualities. The pulse feels knotty restless,intermittent,
imperceptible, thick, and thin. Health issues
include thirst, vertigo, headaches, suppressed urine,
extremity pain, and heat.
Pitta/Váyu pulses feel jumpy and hard, with heat
and blood related symptoms being predominant.
Váyu/Kapha pulses alternate between snake and
swan qualities, weak and forceful, vanishing, hollow,
slippery, and irregular qualities. Symptoms
include chills, extremity pain, frequent urination,
cough, insomnia, drowsiness, feeling slow and fast,
soft and expanded. Sometimes chronic complaints
arise around the new and full moon.
Kapha/Váyu pulses feel soft and slow.
Pitta/Kapha pulses alternate between frog and
swan qualities, with symptoms of both fire and
water excesses. Pitta concerns are more aggravated.
Kapha/Pitta pulses alternate between swan and
frog qualities, with predominantly Kapha symptoms,
and secondary Pitta complaints.
Tridoßhic (all three doßhas) pulses will show all
three qualities: snake, frog, and swan. Pulse movements
are periodic, quick, jumpy, and slow.
Healthy pulse has no signs of dullness. In the morning
the pulse feels cool and steady, at noon it feels
warm. The pulse moves quickly in the evening.
These three pulses indicate the person has been
healthy for a long while and will continue to be
healthy for some time to come.
Pulse-Doßha Detection
One method is to lightly place fingers on the
pulse positions until a pulse is first felt under one
finger. If the pulse if first noticed under the index
finger, this shows a Váyu doßha (before 10 a.m.)
or Váyu imbalance (after 10 a.m.). The middle finger
suggests a Pitta doßha or Pitta imbalance. A
Kapha doßha pulse is first felt under the ring finger.
Sometimes this method is inaccurate because
of the pulse being more easily felt closer to the
Some practitioners believe that whichever finger
the pulse is first felt (i.e., index/Váyu, middle/
Pitta, ring/Kapha) will tell whether an illness is
located in a Váyu, Pitta, or Kapha organ (or the
prak^iti before 10 a.m.). Should the pulse be felt under two fingers simultaneously, then both doßhas
are imbalanced (or a dual-doäha prak^iti before
10 a.m.). Sometimes one may feel the pulse under
one or two fingers strongly and yet feel a mild pulse
under the second or third finger. The fainter pulses
suggest a slight imbalance of the corresponding
For example, a pulse is first felt under the index
finger and then a milder pulse is felt under the
middle finger. This shows a main Váyu imbalance,
with a secondary Pitta disorder. If the pulse is felt
under all three fingers (either strongly or mildly),
then all the doßhas are imbalanced.
Pulse quality, position, and rate are the three
best pulse methods to decide one’s doßha.
After 10:00 a.m. one only learns the vik^iti
(current imbalance or disease) from both the
quality and position of the pulse -
or must take the deepest level pulse
(i.e. occluding the pulse, then gradually
releasing pressure until the pulse is first felt).
The practitioner takes the pulse from the thumb
side of the client (radial side), not reaching across
from the pinky side (ulnar side).
Pulse Qualities Signs for Health and Disease
Abscess- agitated, fiery
Acidity- crooked, shaky, wide, slippery, slow
Anemia- faint, felt at intervals
Anger- accelerated
Appetite (loss of)- steady, slow, hard, mild
Asthma- thin, steady, accelerated, hard, speedy,
intense, felt under all three fingers, hollow
Bile- hot
Boils- (hard) bilious
Colic- (pulse according to the doßhas) (with ab
dominal worms)- expanded
Convulsions- wide and rapid (hysterical)- crooked
and rapid
Constipation- frog, strong
Cough- trembling, thin, restless, slow, hot, swan
Deafness- quick and spreading
Diabetes- knotty
(mellitus)- thin
(insipidus)- Váyu: Crooked, thin.
Pitta: Fast.
Kapha: Slow
Diarrhea (chronic)- [after evacuations] gentle,
Váyu: Crooked.
Pitta: Fast.
Kapha: mild
(Váyu)- crooked
(Pitta)- restless
(Kapha)- cold, slow, swan-like
(with mucus)- wide, inert, dull
(two doßhas) both pulses, respectively
(caused by three doßhas) disappears, or is
(after bowel evacuation) energy-less
Dysmenorrhea- steady, quick
Edema- sometimes weak, thin, cold, stopping
Eye Diseases- hard, slow, slippery, crooked
Fainting- lightning-like
Fear- weak
Healthy/Nourished- rises or jumps upward, pure,
stays in place, steady, not slow,
Feces (suppression)- hard, heavy, or frog
Fever- heated
Full-blooded- slightly hot and heavy
Fistula-in-ano- dull Kapha pulse
Gonorrhea- thin, knotty, inert; pulse at joint
Good Digestion- soft, mild, quick, not dull
Gout (acute)- slow, crooked, hard, mild
Headaches- weak, changeable
Heart diseases- swan
Hemorrhage- hard, slow
Hemorrhoids- (differs according to the doßha de
Hernia- rises and jumps
Hiccup- much trembling and fast
Hoarse/loss of voice- thready, grave, twisting,
tricky, thin, hard, inert
Hungry- restless, unsteady, wavering
Hysteria- weak, fast
Indigestion- slow, hard, or inert; cool; swan-like
(Chronic)- under nourished, slow Insanity- speedy and turning, crooked
Jaundice- weak, splitting, and expanded
Mucus- wide, hot
Negative Thoughts (evil spirits)- hot, curved
Nose Diseases- agitated, slowed
Obesity- thick, slow
Parasites- sometimes disappears, is slow, or fast
Phlegm- thick and slow
Pregnant- weak, slow
Rheumatism- thin, fast
Satiated- steady and slow
Sciatica- wide, crooked, slow
Sex (afterwards)- weak and accelerated (passion)-
Sinus- agitated, fiery
Spleen enlargement- trembling, restless, and be
coming speedy
Suppression of urges (repeatedly)- hard, heavy
Thirst- leech-like
Thyroid (enlarged)- wide, slow
(hypo)- slow
Toxic blood (bile)- slow, hard, and mild
Tumor (abdominal)- restless, gyrates, quick
(throat)- wide, slow, trembling
Urine (suppressing or discharge pain)- heavy, hard,
stones- frog, low, crooked
inability (obstruction)- frog
other diseases- thin, knotty, inert
Váyu disorders- thin and fast
Vomiting- thick, slowed, disappears (elephant and
Wasting- weak or differing movements

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