Ayurveda uses five types of evaluation tools, known as the pancha nidana, to diagnose disease. Pancha means “five” and nidana is “diagnostic methods”. These five tools are: the cause (nidana), preliminary signs (purva rupa), symptoms (rupa), exploratory methods (upashaya) and disease development (samprapti).
The pancha nidana refines a diagnosis in cases where a single causative factor (nidana) may create a number of different diseases. For example, the aggravation of vata causes eighty different types of diseases. Generally, it is not sufficient to know only the cause of the disease, but in this case the aggravation of vata dosha. Knowing the various types of vata, it is important to procure information about the dosha type, body channels (srotas), tissues (dhatus) and systems that are involved in the pathogenesis of the disease in question. Simply implementing an “anti vata” therapy may not permanently eradicate all vata-related disorders, if the other affected factors have been overlooked.