In the West, diagnosis is identifying disease after it’s manifested. In Ayurveda, the 5,000 year old science of self healing, the concept of diagnosis is monitoring every day interactions between order (health) and disorder (disease) in the body. The presence of symptoms of disease are said to be related to an imbalance of the tridoshas (human constitutions).
Once a person can properly detect imbalances in their body, treatment and healing can begin. The indicators in imbalances can be noted in the pulse, tongue, face, eyes, lips, and nails. This post will teach you how!
Ayurveda teaches us that we are all living books, and for understanding, and full well-being, we must read daily. Below we will use Dr. Vasant Lad’s diagrams from his first book, Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing, to read our own bodies.
Examining Radial Pulse
The radial pulse is discovered with the first three fingers, the index, middle, and ring fingers placed on the wrist. It will vary from side to side, so taking it on both wrists is recommended for more accurate results.
*The pulse should not be taking immediately after exertion, a massage, sex, or bathing.
To take your own pulse, keep your arm slightly bent and place the three fingers lightly just below the radius (wrist) bone. Each finger represents a different human constitution aka dosha.
If you don’t already know your dosha, this will help you to determine it!
Index = VATA
When VATA is the primary constitution, the index finger will feel the pulse the strongest. It will be irregular and thin, moving like a slithering serpent. Hence, why it’s called the “snake”
When PITTA dominates, the middle finger will feel the pulse the most. It will feel active and excited, jumpy like its name, the “frog”.
When KAPHA is the predominant dosha, the throbbing of the pulse will be most noticeable under the ring finger. The pulse will feel strong and resemble a swan. It is therefore called the “swan”.
The Meridians & The Basic Five Elements
Not only can you determine one’s human constitutions by the pulse, but by examining superficial and deep pulsations, you can also reveal something about important meridians that are connected to pranic (currents of energy in the body). These currents flow through the blood to the major organs of the body such as the liver, kidneys, heart, and brain.
Each finger in your hand rests on a meridian of the element that correlates with a dosha. For instance, the index finger is connected to VATA, and therefore detects AIR and the lungs. The middle finger, PITTA, detects FIRE and the intestines, while the ring finger relates to WATER and the kidneys.
The amount of pressure you place with each finger, whether superficial (light pressure) or deep, former pressure, can tell you about different organs…
Superficial pressure on RIGHT wrist = activity of large intestine.
Deep pressure on RIGHT = lungs.
If throbbing is felt when the index finger is applied superficially on RIGHT, then VATA is aggregated in the large intestine. If the deep pulse is strong on RIGHT, the lungs are congested.
Superficial pressure on LEFT = small intestine.
Deep pressure on LEFT = heart
Superficial on RIGHT = gallbladder
Deep pressure on RIGHT = liver
Superficial on LEFT = stomach
Deep pressure on LEFT = spleen
Superficial on RIGHT = pericardium (outer covering of heart)
Deep on RIGHT = harmonious relationship of VATA-PITTA-KAPHA
Superficial on LEFT = bladder
Deep pressure on LEFT = kidneys
*by taking your pulse various times throughout the day including when you’re hungry, have to urinate and when you feel angry can help you become an expert at knowing your pulse and your own body.
The tongue is the organ for taste and speech. By observing the size, shape, color, contour and surface, one can reveal what is happening in the body. For instance, if the tongue is pale, one would be anemic or have lack of blood in their body. If it’s yellow, there is excess bile in the gallbladder or there is disorder in the liver. It’s it’s blue, there is a defect in the heart.
As seen in the picture below, each part of the tongue is related to different organs in the body. If there are discolorations or elevations, the organs that correlate with that section have defects.
*This is a mirror image
In addition, derangements of the doshas can also be determined by appearance. For example…
White tongue = KAPHA & mucus accumulation
Red or yellow/green = PITTA
Black to brown = VATA
The face is a mirror to the mind. The lines and wrinkles reveal disorder and disease.
Horizontal lines in the forehead= deep worries and anxieties.
Vertical lines between the brows on right = repressed emotions in the liver.
Puffiness under eyes = kidney impairment
Discoloration below kidney region or nose = body is not absorbing iron or folic acid. Metabolism isn’t working correctly. Excess excess
VATA = flat or sunken cheeks, crooked nose
PITTA = sharp nose
KAPHA = plump cheeks, blunt nose
Just as with other features of the body, examining the lips, their color, shape, size, contour and surface, can also reveal disease and disorders in the body. P assuage sugar
VATA = lips are thin and dry
PITTA = red lips
KAPHA = thick and oily
Pale = dehydration, anemia, VATA derangement
Dryness & tremors = nervousness & fears
Blackish & brown= result from
Inflamed patches = herpes, PITTA derangements
Brown spots = poor digestion or worms in colon
Yellow color = jaundice
Blue color = heart disease, lack of oxygen
Discoloration of certain areas of the lips indicate certain derangements in the correlating organs, as seen below:
According to Ayurveda, the nails are a waste product of the bones. By examining the size, shape, surface, flexibility, and texture of the nails, one can determine illness in the body.
VATA = dry, crooked, rough, break easily.
PITTA = soft, pink, tender, easily bent, slightly glistening
KAPHA = thick, strong, very shiny, uniform contour
Longitude line = malabsorption in digestive systems
Transverse grooves = long standing illness, defective nutrition
Convex & bulbous = delicate lungs & heart
Concave = iron deficiency
White spots = calcium or zinc deficiency
Pale nails = anemia
Redness = excess red blood cells
Yellow = delicate liver or jaundice
Blue = weak heart/ cardiac failure
Each finger and thumb corresponds to a different organ in the body.
The thumbnail = brain and skull.
The index =lungs
The middle finger = small intestine
The ring finger = kidneys
The pinky = heart
White spots on ring finger = calcium deposit in the kidneys
White spot on middle = unabsorbed calcium in the intestines
White spots on index indicates calcium in lungs
According to Ayurveda, the eyes get their energy from the basic fire element. The fiery energy in the retina results in sensitivity to light. People with PITTA constitution who naturally have fire alreadyare usually overly sensitive to light.
VATA = small, blink frequently
PITTA = lustrous, sensitive to light whites, tends to be nearsighted
KAPHA = beautiful & attractive eyes
Below are traits of the eyes, and what they determine is happening within the body:
Excessive blinking = nervousness, anxiety or fear
Drooping under eyelid = insecurity, lack of confidence, deranged VATA
Prominent = distinction of thyroid
Small iris = weak joints
If conjunctiva is pale = anemia
If conjunctiva is yellow = liver issues
White rings around iris = excess salt or sugar
Prominent whites = degeneration in joints. Arthritis is likely.
Brown and black spots = unabsorbed iron in intestine.
I hope you have been inspired, and feel prepared to recognize illness by simply looking at your own body!
Sharing is good karma!