Eastern Medicine and Pulse Reading

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Era

The art of pulse reading originates from ancient times both in Eastern and Western countries when complex instruments did not existed. These traditions and knowledges have endured time until now in countries such as India, Tibet, Korea, Japan and China. The finger pulse wave assessment takes only few minutes of a long term trained expert, but is very efficient at diagnosing dysfunctions of organs. The concept of balance is essential in these traditions, and especially the Ayurvedic and Tibetan ones that we have studied at SATHeart.

The foundation of Traditional Indian Medicine, Ayurveda, (the science of life) and Traditional Tibetan Medicine, Sowa Rigpa, (the science of healing) is based on the 5 Elements or Dynamic Principles: Space (Aether), Air (Wind), Fire, Water and Earth. We will simply call them Energies as it reflect quite accurately their meaning and functions. Ancient Egypt, Persia and Greece had developed similar knowledge of these energies which faded away at the renaissance due to the advances of modern diagnostic instrumentations. We can see a revival of the use of pulse wave analysis since about 20 years and more strongly since 10 years due to the miniaturisation the the sensor technology and their reduced costs.

SATHeart is not meant to replace a physician, either Eastern or Western, but rather to provide a way for the users to follow up their energy balance day after day.

Five Elements Principles

SATHeart uses the principle of the 5 Energies, and more specifically their manifestation in our human body and mind. We thus present here briefly their foundation and meaning. Each of these principles are present in our environment as well as in our body and mind as shown in Fig. 1. So these are unifying principle. Modern science is also based on this concept of Energy as it is the foundation of physics, chemistry, biology, physiology and psychology.

Fig. 1: The 5 Energies and their relation to the seasons

Three Fundamental Vital Energies

Ayurveda and Sowa Rigpa base their knowledge on three fundamental dynamic principles called Doshas and Humours respectively [1,2,3] which derives from the 5 Elements. In that sense we also call them Vital Energies as they govern the function of each organs, tissues, liquids and nerves. The three Vital Energies are, following the Ayurvedic or Sowa Rigpa: Vata or Lung (Wind, Center Green), Pitta or Tripa (Fire and Water, Center Red), and Kapha or Beken (Water and Earth, Center Yellow). Lung is the energy of Movement, Tripa is the energy of Transformation and Beken is the energy of Stabilisation and Cohesion.

Each individual has its own constitution from birth which is a specific distribution of the three Vital Energies of this individual. This constitution is changing with age: as a baby we are more Beken, as an adult we are more Tripa and as an elderly we become more Lung.

Fig. 2: The 5 elements and the 3 energies

The peculiarity of Eastern philosophy and in particular medicine, is that they consider no duality between the body and the mind. Each organ function is tightly linked with a mind set and emotion as can be seen from the Table below.

Humor and ElementBody ShapeLife style & health
Life style & health
Light body and walk fast
Speak fast and steady flow
Mild voice
Fun and lively
Sleep is short duration
Irregular routine
Changeable moods
Irregular energy
Fragile health
Prone to nervous dysfunctions, headache, irregular heartbeats, lower back pain, constipation
Bad sleep quality, agitated
Have lots of dreams but don’t remember them

Entrepreneur and creator
Public speaker
Strong voice
Good health
Sleep is medium length
Prone to circulation, blood pressure problems, ulcers, cancer, heartburns
Prone to be angry when stressed or tired
Burn energy quickly and need to rest afterward
Tend to develop heat during sleep
Clear dreams
(Water & Earth)
Strong Muscles
Great endurance
Resistant to sickness
Love eating
Speaks slowly and low voice
Easy going
Good long sleeps
Stiff body
Tend to be possessive
Slow energy
Prone to colds, allergies, overweight
Over sleeping
Few dreams

Traditional Pulse Reading

Traditional Pulse Reading (TPR) uses finger pressure and it takes about one minute to perform a proper diagnosis. The art of finger pulse reading is notoriously difficult to learn and requires many years of training with a qualified teacher. One of the difficulties in this art is to learn this ancient technique which is still transmitted using analogies with nature’s properties such as animal behaviours or the five external elements such as: vibrating like vulture’s wings or a flapping flag, or the dripping of water. The fourth tantra of Tibetan medicine contains the instructions for the practitioner to perform pulse diagnosis and is still the best source of information for TPR.

Fig 3: TPR using the three fingers

The routine TPR is based on reading from left and right hands’ radial artery simultaneously or sequentially using three fingers. Three different pressures are applied by each finger to search for the pulse wave features. The pulse wave features as described by TPR are essentially based on the three concepts shown in the Table below.

RhythmThat is the way the heart beat intervals are distributed: fast or slow and regular or irregular
ForceThat is the strength of the pressure felt under the fingers
StructureThat are the details of the pressure wave shape felt under the fingers for each beat and between the beats

Modern Digital Pulse Wave Analysis

SATHeart embarked on a road to decipher the TPR using modern pulse wave sensor in 2008. Today, we are proud to offer our customers a unique device that can read the 3 Vital Energies from a light sensor. This unique technology and science, in synergy with the ancient knowledges of pulse reading, will allow the users to read their compass of life every day and to see objectively the benefits of their preferred relaxation practices days after weeks and months.

Fig. 4: Detailed analysis of the Energy Balance and the three Vital Energies from the light sensor

SATHeart thus inherited the concept of Energy Balance from these Eastern medicinal systems and apply it to derive objective metrics of stress-relaxation balance. The state of balance is evolving with our daily stress and relaxation periods, and the user can objectively have a direct reflection of her inner energies as manifested in our blood pressure, vessels and cardiac strains, as well as psychological stresses. SATHeart thus recommend three ways to keep your balance and be able to live a full life.


Fig. 5: Vital Energies, Balance and Cardio-Respiratory Pulseogram



  1. Chenagtsang, Nida; Thurman, Robert: The Tibetan Book of Health: Sowa Rigpa, the Science of Healing, SKY Press, 2017
  2. Lad, Vasant. Secrets of the pulse: The ancient art of Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis. Motilal Banarsidass Publisher, 2004
  3. Gold, Colin. Pulse Diagnosis in Traditional Tibetan Medicine: History, Principles, and Comparison to Chinese Pulse Diagnosis. Diss. Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, 2015