Nadi Shastra in Siddha Medicine

Siddha medicine is one of ancient and spiritually enriched traditional medicine systems. Through their well-researched and technically advanced medicine formulations, methods of treatment and alchemy the Siddhars, thousands of years ago devised a system which is effective till date. The Siddha system aims at not only treatment of the disease through therapy but also healing of the mind and instilling spirituality in the physical being.


The disease

In Siddha medicine it is believed that an equilibrated condition of the three humors, bile (pitta), wind (vatha) and phlegm (kapa) is indicative of a good health. All the pathology is based on an imbalance of any of these humors.

The diagnosis

All the Siddhars follow a dictum “Ennvagai thervoo” which states the diagnostic procedure to be followed. The diagnosis of disease relies on the study or examination of the following eight features which are evaluated in terms of the three humors.

The ancient text “Agathiyar Vaidya Sangam” also gives the following eight check points;

  • Nadi Pareeksha (studying the pulse)- the Siddhars way
  • Urine tests
  • Tests done on the feces
  • Observation of the Lividity or pallor of the skin
  • Examination of the tongue
  • Examination of the eyes
  • Change in the voice of the patient
  • Feeling the patient

The diagnosis in Siddha medical system is unique as it depends majorly on the clinical acumen of the Siddhar.

The significance!

Out of the eight checkpoints of diagnosis, pulse reading (Sanskrit: Nadi Pareeksha and Tamil: Nati paritchai) forms the most important tool in diagnosing. The reading of the pulse is the principle means to study the natural and disturbed humoral condition.

Pulse reading forms the predominant mode of examining and requires a highly defined sense of touch and fine subjective awareness.

The Nadi in Siddha refers to two things; the pulse and the nerves. The pulse is influenced in health or in a disturbed state by the nerves and their branches in the body.

How to take a pulse reading?

The art of reading the pulse is like playing the musical instrument ‘Veena.’ The same deftness, dexterity, heightened sense of touch and patience are needed to infer observations from the Nadi.

The pulse is read from the hands generally but if a reading cannot be taken from hands other arterial points inclusive of ankle, neck and ear lobes are used. Since the body and the mind change as the day progresses and also the different seasons and climatic conditions affect a person’s physiological and psychological states.

The pulse is felt on the female’s left hand and the male’s right hand. The Siddhar examines the pulse by applying the pressure with one finger after the other on a few centimeters below the wrist. Each finger is capable of detecting a humor which is represented by the movement of certain animals.

  • Index finger feels the windy humor (vayu) – represented by the movement of a swan, a cock, or a peacock.
  • Middle finger feels the bilious humor (pitta) – represented by the movement of a tortoise or a leach.
  • Ring finger feels the phlegmatic humor (kapa) –represented by the movement of a frog or a snake.

Any deviation from these normal movements is indicative of the disturbance in a particular humor. If all humors are affected, then the pulse is unusually rapid and voluminous.

The do’s and don’ts of pulse reading

Nadi Shastra has enumerated a number of limiting conditions while the pulse is being read. These are;

  • Pulse reading should not be done immediately after exercise or hard labor
  • Pulse reading should not be done in hungry, angry or excited patients
  • Patients should not have food just before the pulse reading
  • Patient should not be given an oil bath before a pulse reading
  • The body of the patient should neither be wet nor he should come straight from the sun for the pulse reading

Do seasons affect Pulse?

Not only the seasons but the time of the day also affects the pulse. As a result of changes in the temperature during the day, atmospheric and seasonal changes, the doshas (humors) may increase or decrease resulting in changes in the reading of the pulse. Remember that all the temperature changes are based on the Indian weather and may wary according to different countries.

  • Winters (December, January, and February): Kapa dosha is increased in winters hence pulse read while the sun sets or in the evenings.
  • Summers(April, May and June): Vata dosha is increased and therefore pulse is read at sunrise
  • Spring(March, August and September): Pulse should be read at night
  • Fall (July, October and November): Pitta dosha is increased and so pulse should be felt at noon

Along with the seasons, the time of the day also affects the pulse or the Nadi;

  • Early morning can influence the pulse or Nadi due to change in Vata.
  • Noon time has an effect on the Pitta and hence a changed reading of pulse
  • Evenings influence the Kapa and hence pulse reading is not correct.

What does the reading tell you?

The deviation in the pulse readings from normal represents an abnormality in one of the doshas. A skilled Siddhar or practitioner of Siddha medicine can detect the subtlest of differences in the flow, volume and rate of the pulse by using the tips of three fingers. These deviations correspond to different diseases or abnormalities in the body function and after identification, an appropriate cure can be prescribed for them.

  • Vatha Nadi (pulse) imbalance: An increase in Vatha Nadi is indicative of frequent headaches, body pain, arthritis, loss of appetite, flatulence etc.

Other diseases resulting from Vatha Nadi imbalance are difficulty in urination, fever, voice changes, dry cough, and skin discoloration.

  • Pitta Nadi (pulse) imbalance: An increase in Pitta Nadi is indicative of the headache, insomnia, vertigo and in extreme conditions mental disorders.

Other imbalances result in yellowishness of eyes , urine and eyes, burning sensation in the stomach, heart burn, headache, thirsty, dryness of mouth, confusion, and diarrhea.

  • Kapha Nadi (pulse) imbalance: A predominance of Kapha Nadi is prognostic of diseases of the kidney and chest.

Other imbalance can identify heaviness of the body and head, sweet taste of tongue, cold to touch, loss of appetite, flatulence, cough with phlegm, difficulty in breathing.

  • Sanipatham: When all three doshas are either increased or decreased then the pulse is affected. This condition may even result in death.

The Siddhars or practitioners of Siddha medicine are so skilled in Nadi Shastra that they can make an accurate prediction just by reading pulse. They have mastered the art of reading pulse to such an extent that they can make their predictions just by reading the pulse without any interrogation!

Author: Pooja S. Banerjee

A pharmacist by profession,Pooja has research experience in the field of herbal medicine and medicinal chemistry. She has also authored many International and National research and review papers in peer reviewed journals. Her passion for writing has made her foray into the world of medical writing. She writes travel blogs for creative satisfaction.


  1. Shrishti says:

    Now I also know about Nadi Shashtra in Siddha medicine, informative post!

  2. The artical teaches us how a diagnosed in Siddha medicine system in an easy manner, nice post..

  3. The article teaches us how a diagnosed in Siddha medicine system in an easy manner, nice post..

  4. Bapuji M Dr says:

    We are interested to take up studies on Nadi sastra – by experts from IT?computer; microelectronics in collaboration with Siddha/ayurveda doctors. Can we have list, addresses of siddha/ayur docs who can participate in the study, please?
    We would like to document and understand how nadi sastra works and can be transmitted to the next generations, can we use machine support in interpretation etc.
    Kindly respond

  5. Nice to read about Siddha, this type of medicine is popular in South India, specifically Tamil Nadu. Thanks for writing this to all of us.

  6. k kalaivanan says:

    ur work is nice & good.i am siddha physician working as asst medcal officer .

  7. dr.nidhin says:

    nadi is a great and one of the most secret concept in siddha system of medicine. very difficult to the way of nadi we can find every disease and every problem in our body.but before studying nadi should under stand about kadangal,mandalangal,pradanangal,kalangal,kalaikal,vasi soothram etc.should feel nadi thannilai from a guru who know nadi sahsthram,and siddha spirituality. any way great work pooja.s.banarjee

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