Components of the Ayurvedic Health Exam



P.J. Slater, LMT

Lise Stevens, CAHC

Certified Ayurvedic Health Consultant and Practitioner

Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word which means “The Science of Life”. The Ayurvedic Health exam is a comprehensive study of an individual using ancient India’s Ashtavidha Pariksha – The Eight Methods of Clinical Evaluation. It is a method that uses a variety of visual inspection, touch (e.g., pulse observation) and questioning to help identify symptoms and manifestations of imbalances. Ayurveda focuses on disease prevention and supports an individual’s health goals through conscious attention to one’s thinking, lifestyle, eating habits and use of herbs. Ayurveda takes a wholistic view of an individual through careful consideration of how specific imbalances of the body, mind and spirit manifest and contribute to disease. The knowledge and application of Ayurveda is individualized based upon one’s Doshic constitution, which is similar to the Western concept of one’s genetic predisposition. Ayurveda addresses disturbances of Dosha (e.g., Vata, Pita and Kapha) as expressed symptomology in body tissues (Dhatus), digestion (Agni) and organ systems or bodily channels (Srotamsi). Its goal is to heal the internal workings of the human body rather than just treating symptoms. By improving the condition of the organs and tissues, symptoms will begin to dissipate. The Ayurvedic health exam looks for dosha imbalances prior to and during a disease state. These imbalances point the practitioner in the proper direction for healing the areas of concern and helps with disease prevention. Ayurveda augments conventional medical care and other alternative therapy practices. Listed below are the components of the Ayurvedic health exam provided at the Washington Institute:

  • Dosha and Agni Evaluation
  • Pulse Reading
  • Mala (Bodily Waste) Analysis
  • Tongue and Face Study
  • Active/Passive Body Sound Evaluation
  • Akruti (General Form) Observation
  • Discussion of the General Causes of Imbalance

*These components may vary slightly depending upon the preference of the practitioner

Dosha and Agni Evaluation
Ayurveda describes wellbeing as a state of perfect balance between the three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha corresponding to one’s individual constitution. The three doshas represent the body’s protective mechanism and include the current state and effectiveness of the metabolic fire (Agni). Agni is the digestive metabolic “fire” that governs digestion, absorption, assimilation and transformation of food, information and emotions. A combination of questions and physical observations are used to determine Prakruti (inherited) and Vikruti (disturbed) dosha and Agni. This information is used to determine a baseline of health and how to address specific imbalances.

Pulse Reading
A pulse reading helps confirm one’s doshic predisposition, current state of dosha disturbance which are how these disturbances are manifesting in body tissues, organ systems, one’s mental state and/or stage of disease. It indicates the need for targeted adjustments to diet, lifestyle and herbal recommendations to help restore health and support overall wellbeing.

Mala (Bodily Wastes) Analysis
Analysis of the three bodily wastes: urine, feces and sweat provide clues about the effectiveness and overall functioning of the digestive tract, urinary and integumentary systems and help identify how the doshas are being expressed in the body. Note that no laboratory or invasive test methods are used for this evaluation and it is not used for conventional medical diagnosis.

Tongue and Face Study
Tongue and face observations shows signs of imbalance manifesting in the digestive tract and other body systems. It identifies how well food is being absorbed and assimilated, as well as early signs or history of chronic conditions such as neck and back pain, high blood pressure, stroke, impaired lung functioning or potential reproductive system issues.

Active/Passive Body Sound Evaluation
A variety of palpation and auscultation methods may be used to help identify and confirm doshic disturbances manifesting in the body such as inflammation, swelling, and other irregularities.

Akruti (General Form) Observation
Examining the external surfaces of the body, as well as the teeth, hair, skin and nails help verify and confirm other observations and assessments about dosha expressions and their movement in the body and mind.

Discussion of the General Causes of Imbalance
Ayurveda classifies all imbalances in terms of qualitative and quantitative changes in constitution (dosha), body tissues and excreta (wastes). These changes are further described and classified based upon 32 contributing factors, which may have a primary or secondary relationship to the underlying cause. Examples of Ayurveda causes (Hetu) of imbalance include environmental, psychological and occupational factors. These classifications are used to help identify and implement best practices to restore and maintain balance of our clients.

Additional Exam Components
Client and family history, teaching, and constitutional review are techniques used in the process of gathering information in a client interview. It is completed by way of discussing issues related to specific complaints or health concerns. A questionnaire is used to gather more information about one’s constitution, manifestation of dosha disturbances and how Ayurveda can be used to restore and maintain balance and wellbeing.

Each Ayurvedic Health Exam lasts between one and ½ to two hours depending upon the severity of the complaint and openness of the client. An exam is individualized and the components may vary slightly based upon the client’s needs and the assessment of the practitioner. The majority of the exam components are completed within the initial exam but may be completed within a follow-up exam or with an associate practitioner. Washington Institute’s practitioners work within a team format in the care of clients. Each practitioner has specific methods and specialties within Natural Health.

Based upon the results of the studies and observation, the practitioner recommends diet and lifestyle adjustments to achieve balance. All of the studies and observations listed above are not considered to be medical diagnoses. For a medical diagnosis see your physician.