Three Pulses from One
Pragati Patel, MA
Last week I started a course in Pulse diagnosis with one of my mentors at Bastyr University. Pulse diagnosis is a technique that has historically been used in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Physician takes the radial pulse using three fingers rather than the traditional two fingers. The pulse felt under each finger individually represents different body systems. The strength of the pulse and the depth of the pulse symbolize different constitutional body types.
In Ayurveda this information can reveal your health tendencies. By knowing this information, a Physician can determine what preventive diet, lifestyle, and herbs you should use to stay healthy. In Ayurveda, all living beings are the manifestation of the five elements: space, ether, air, fire, and water. These five elements are emulated in the physical body through three doshas: vata (air and space), pitta (fire and water), and kapha (water and ether). When a person is “tridoshic” they have optimal health; an imbalance in the doshas can lead to disease.
The pulse can be quite telling if you understand what you are feeling. This type of medicine can help the Physician to understand what modifications can be made to achieve a healthier balance of body systems and achieve optimal health. In India, a doctor and practitioner of Ayurveda is known as a Vaidya. Vaidya is also my mother’s maiden name and both my great grandfather and my great, great grandfather were Physicians. In this way, I believe medicine is in my blood.
My interest in constitutional assessment is deep. I believe that using the pulse to feel what disruptions might be taking place can help a Physician have a clearer picture of the patient as a whole person. There are many subtleties that can be picked up in the pulse, and often if you just stop to feel the pulse, you will pick up something. The key is learning what those subtleties mean, and that is a skill that can take years to develop. Each beat has a story, just like each person.