Every person’s tongue is unique, with distinct
characteristics that reflect their inner health. Ever been to a TCM
(Traditional Chinese Medicine) doctor or an acupuncturist and been asked to
stick out your tongue? There is a reason for this. TCM believes the tongue
is a microcosm of the entire body and will reflect its excesses and
deficiencies. The shape, colour, coating, and texture of the tongue can all
indicate digestive issues and body imbalances.
The gold standard: A
normal healthy tongue is pink in color, has a light white tongue coating on it,
and is proportionate in size to the mouth.
So, what can your tongue tell you about your health?
§A red tongue may
indicate heat in the body, such as a fever or a hormonal imbalance that is
leading to hot flashes or temperature changes.
§A purple tongue
is a sign that the circulatory system is backed up, perhaps from a major injury
or pain condition. There may also be inflammation or infection.
§A pale tongue is
a sign of a deficiency or a lack of energy. This is common with anemia or after
a long-standing disease where the immune system is weak.
§A thick coating
reflects a more serious condition and poor gut health.
§A thin coating
is normal, but a very thin or absent tongue coating means a lack of body
fluids, or it could be a sign that the body is being taxed greatly.
§A yellow coating
signals heat and/or infection in the body.
§A grey or black
coating indicates that something is very wrong with the body’s health.
§A thick white
coating means there is cold in the body, likely poor circulation to the
extremities and possibly Candida, a yeast infection.
§If the tongue is
puffy with teeth marks/scalloped edges, it indicates a lack of nutrient
absorption; there could be blood stagnation and toxic buildup in the body as
§A very thin
tongue could indicate dehydration or that a chronic condition has
left the body severely depleted.
§A bump on top of
the tongue could be a warning of bacterial or viral infection or of an allergic
reaction to a food or medication.
more often pop up on the underside of the tongue, and can be identified by a
round, red border and yellow or white centre.
§A white or gray
lesion with a hard surface that feels thick and raised from the tongue could be
leukoplakia, a disorder of the mucous membranes caused by irritation from
dentures, crowns, fillings, or tobacco use.
leukoplakia, which occurs in people with weakened immune systems due to
illnesses like HIV or the Epstein-Barr virus, appears as a fuzzy, white lesion
that usually crops up on the side of the tongue.
patches: If you spot patchy lesions on the tongue that seem to change location
from day to day, you may have a harmless but sometimes uncomfortable condition
called geographic tongue.
tongue that bears grooves, wrinkles, or furrows could be scrotal tongue, a
harmless condition that can make it difficult to keep the tongue properly clean.
§A sore or lump
on one side of the tongue could be a sign of cancer and needs to be checked by
intense pain, loss of sensation, or inability to move the tongue properly
should be looked at by a doctor as soon as possible.
Tongue areas correspond to internal organs in Chinese Medicine; much like
reflexology, different parts of the tongue correspond to different organs. As a
mirror of the body’s digestive system, the tongue can reflect the toxicity
level in the gut, show potential food sensitivities or a weak digestion, point
to malabsorption of nutrients, and reveal the health of other organs in the
You can use these helpful tips to improve your digestion and thus
the appearance of your tongue:
foods and drink probiotic beverages to bring your system back into
§Eat only until
you are 80% full and eat whole foods that are as natural as possible.
§Warm up your
digestion with cooked foods.
§Add herbs and
spices to improve digestion.
ginger tea 20 minutes before a meal to benefit digestion and relieve nausea.
enzymes to increase mineral absorption.
Note that it’s always best to
see a practitioner familiar with the practice of tongue diagnosis, and keep in
mind that in TCM, it is one of a number of areas examined with patients, to
make a proper diagnosis and determine the correct treatment. Here is a helpful
graphic to assist:
Here Is What Your Tongue Telling You About Your Health4.55EYEOPENER Every person’s tongue is unique, with distinct characteristics that reflect their inner health. Ever been to a TCM (Traditional Chinese Med...