The Medical Practice

Tibetan Traditional Diagnosis

medical practice of pulse taking in tibetan medicine

To make a diagnosis, Tibetan physicians use their six sense consciousnesses. They mainly emphasize pulse reading, visual diagnosis (tongue, urine…) and hearing, and ask questions about the history of the patient which is an important part of the examination. Generally they don’t use machines or any electronic help.

Is there something to do before an appointment?

To be properly prepared for an appointment with a Tibetan doctor, it is generally better to collect information directly from the physician, or follow the advice mentioned below at least one day before receiving the diagnosis, as there are some factors that may influence pulse and urine analysis.

Diet and behavior:

Not drink tea, coffee, coca cola, beverages based on gas in excess, not eat bitter salad, raw vegetables,…
Avoid fasting, purgatives, vomiting, lack of sleep, sexual contact or excessive talk.
Since these factors influence the patient’s body and energy, they would show signs similar to a wind disorder.
Not consume alcohol, meat, hot, fatty or spicy food in excess, and avoid warming quality medicine like vitamins.
Avoid heavy physical or mental work, sleep in a sunny day.
These factors could lead to the wrong diagnosis of Bile disorder.
Avoid milk, raw vegetables, sweets in excess and overeating.
Avoid excessive sleep during the day, and lack of movement.
To not follow this diet, and have the previous behaviors would mislead the diagnosis into phlegm disorder.

Examination through touch

Pulse reading

Tibetan physicians read the patient’s pulse to discover the nature of the disease. They read it on the radial artery where all psychic, humoral and organs energy pulses flow with the artery blood. If the patient is a man, the physicians first read his left hand; if it is a woman, they first read her right hand.

Just as an expert fisherman knows how to read the language of the sea waves, the expert physician reads the language of organs and heartbeats that interprets the various diseases. The radial artery is a messenger, which carries the information on the patient’s body. The information is given through the pulse characters. There are instructions widely documented and rich practical accounts on the pulse readings done by ancient and past physicians.

Visual diagnosis

The visual diagnosis methods (urine, tongue, ears or eyes veins, and constitution examinations) use the sensory organs and their perceptions.

Urine analysis

Precautions of diet and behavior preliminaries are the same as for the pulse reading.
Urine analysis is a method that examines the physical residues of blood and urine waste products. It gives clear indication on the physical pathologies.
Method: The patient’s first morning urine (urine after midnight) is collected and kept in a white cup. The physician examines the urine, if possible in the morning sunlight. The color, vapor and smell as well as the thickness, sediments, etc. interpret the disorders and give indications on the disease.

Tongue diagnosis

Tongue diagnosis is an important method often used by Tibetan physicians. The tongue is the heart flower on which the integration of disease and the digestion symptoms can be seen. The digestion is the central motor of the metabolism, and its regulation by the three humors is the central subject of the physiology. There are numerous tongue characters depending on the different diseases, but the following three are the principal characters for the three humors.

  • A Wind disorder tongue appears dry, red, large and with red pimples.
  • A Bile disorder tongue is yellowish, has a thick cover and bitter taste.
  • A Phlegm tongue appears whitish, wet and smooth, with thick cover.

Tibetan medicine physicians also read eyes and ear veins. The ear vein reading is specially used for the discovery of children’s diseases.

Hearing method


A Tibetan physician may also ask questions before or after reading the pulse. It is always better to give a clear life and case history summary. It helps analyze the disease in a clearer way, along with the pulse and urine analysis.