Ayurveda uses five types of evaluative tools, known as panchanidana, to diagnose diseases. Pancha means “five”, and nidana means “diagnostic methods”. These are the cause (nidana), preliminary signs (purvarupa), symptoms (rupa), exploratory methods (upashaya) and disease development (samprapti).
The panchanidana 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, in this case the aggravation of vatadosha. 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 allvata related disorders, if the other affected factors have been overlooked.