Ayurveda performs extensive and elaborate examination to understand the pathogenesis of disease. It recognizes patient and the disease separately.
Method of diagnosis in Ayurveda
In the West, the term diagnosis generally refers to identification of the disease after it has manifested. However, in Ayurveda, the concept, of diagnosis implies a moment-to-moment monitoring of the interactions between order (health) and disorder (disease) in the body. The disease process is a reaction between the bodily humors and the tissues. The symptoms of disease are always related to derangement of the balance of the tri-dosha. Once we understand the nature of the imbalance, balance may be reestablished through treatment. Observation of the pulse, tongue, face, eyes, nails and lips provide subtle indicators.
Examination of the patient is done in two steps. First is the general examination and second is the examination of the different systems of the body.
- General Examination or Ashta Vidha Pariksha: This consists of the following parameters: Examination of the pulse (Naadi Pariksha), Tongue, Urine and stool examination, Speech, Examination by palpation and percussion, Gait (bodily movement), General appearance of the patient, and, Examination of the constitution (Prakriti).
- Systemic Examination: This consists of examination of the following systems: Digestive system, Respiratory system, Heart and Circulatory system, Nervous system, Urinary system, Musculo-skeletal system, Reproductive system, Skin and Hair, and Eyes.
Let us know about some important Ayurvedic diagnostic methods.
There are several methods of diagnosis (parıksa) in Ayurveda, identified as astasthana parıksa, consisting of eight (asta) seats (sthana):
- Examination of general appearance (akriti pariksha): The doshic influences that reflect on the face of the patient enable physicians to gauge the basic constitution and the nature of the disease.
- Examination of the voice (sabda pariksha): Healthy and natural when the doshas are in balance, the voice will become heavy when aggravated by Kapha, cracked under Pitta effect and hoarse & rough when afflicted by Vata.
- Examination of eyes (Drig or netra pariksha): Vata domination makes the eyes sunken, dry and reddish brown in color. On aggravation of Pitta, they turn red or yellow and the patient suffers from photophobia and burning sensations. High Kapha makes them wet & watery with heaviness in the eyelids.
- Examination of skin (sparsha pariksha): The health of the skin is tied to the health of the gut. Often, the condition of the skin can be a reflection of what is going on internally. Rashes, acne - even psoriasis and roseacea have roots in the gastrointestinal system. Also used for assessing the state of organs and tissue, palpation is an important clinical method for examination of skin. Noted for doshic influences, a Vata aggravated skin is course & rough with below normal temperature, a Pitta influenced one has quite high temperature and Kapha effected it becomes cold & wet.
- Examination of urine (mutra pariksha) : Both examination of urine sample and questioning of patient are important for assessing doshic influence. A modification of this is the oil (taila) drop (bindu) test (pariksha) in which the effect of an oil drop on urine sample suggests the curability of disease.
- Examination of stool (Purısa or mala pariksha): If digestion & absorption of food are poor, the stool carries a foul odor and sinks in water. Vata aggravated, the stool is hard, dry and grey / ash in color. Excess Pitta makes it green / yellow in color and liquid in form. And high Kapha lines it with mucus.
- Examination of the pulse (Nadi pariksha): The foremost clinical art in ayurvedic diagnosis it can provide deep insights into the history of the patient. The ideal time for pulse examination is early morning in empty stomach. But in case of emergency, it can be examined at any time of the day or night. An experienced ayurvedic physician can assess your body?s nature (prakriti), pathological state (vikruti), imbalances of body type, very subtle observations & even prognosis of disease through the pulse.
- Examination of the tongue (jivha pariksha): Assessed through its doshic state, a Vata aggravated tongue is dry, rough & cracked, Pitta suffered tongue is red with a burning sensation and Kapha influenced it is wet, slimy and coated. Tongue examination suggests the state of the digestive system.