Your Tongue Doesn’t Lie

If you have ever been to an Oriental Medical practitioner, you will know that one of the first things they do is ask to look at your tongue.

That is because, in Oriental Medicine, the tongue is said to be connected to all the organs of your body through energy pathways, also known as meridians.  It is thought to be a window to your current state of health.

Here is a simple guide that you can use to see what your tongue can tell you about your inner health.

A reflection of your health

The first thing you look for when you stick out your tongue in the mirror is the colour of your tongue.

What colour is your tongue?

Pink: This is a normal, healthy tongue.  That’s a great start to the day!

Pale: Indicates a deficiency in energy (Qi) or blood, or what is referred to as yang energy. If you have a pale tongue, you might look slightly pale, tire easily, breathless or experience cold hands and feet.

Purple: Indicates Qi & blood stagnation where things are not moving around as they should.  Here you might be experiencing sharp and persistent localised pains, muscle tightness, or sore areas within your hara (that’s your belly or abdomen).

Red: Indicates that there is excess heat in the body or a deficiency of yin energy. You might be feeling restless, feverish with a fast pulse, or be suffering from constipation. You may also have a dry throat and be craving cold drinks.

Deep Red or Crimson: Indicates intense internal heat or low levels of yin energy. As with a red tongue, you may be experiencing dry mouth, fevers, constipation, a strong rapid pulse, and even night sweats.

The next thing you want to look for is the general appearance of the tongue or coating as this will give you clues about your digestive health.

Thin coating: A thin white coating of saliva is normal.

Thick or furry coating: This indicates excess dampness in the body.

Greasy coating: This suggests excess phlegm, a sludge that blocks yang energy from circulating around the body.

No coating: Indicates that the energy of the stomach is low or deficient.

Now for the colour of that coating reflecting the state of your yang or hollow organs, especially your stomach.

White: A nice translucent white coat is normal.  If this is powdery you may have a cold coming on.  If this persists you may see this coating turning yellow. If this coating is thick, white and snow-like, it means that your spleen energy is low.

Yellow coat: A slightly yellow coat indicates wind-heat. The more intense the yellow, the more severe the heat. Common symptoms include high body temperature but not sweating, a sore throat and thick opaque nasal discharge and slightly yellow phlegm. Make sure you check your tongue before your breakfast as the colour can be affected by coffee, black tea or of course smoking.

Dirty yellow coat: Indicates sluggish, damp-heat energy in the stomach and intestines.

White and yellow coat: Indicates both heat and cold within the organs. If it is striped yellow and white down the length of the tongue it is showing you have heat and excess energy in your liver and gallbladder.

Grey-black coat:  Not something you want to see, but if you are ill for any length of time, your tongue may have a grey-black coat. When the coat is completely black, it indicates long term extreme illness.

Make it part of your morning ritual

Start each day by sticking out your tongue in the mirror and get to know what is happening in your body.  Here are some Tongue Reading Tips:

  • The best time to inspect your tongue is before your first coffee or breakfast.
  • Don’t scrub your tongue when brushing your teeth so you can see what the coating is really telling you.
  • Avoid drinking or eating anything that might stain your tongue.
  • Use natural light to inspect your tongue as it gives a better reflection of your health.
  • If you haven’t made a decision on the state of your tongue within 15 seconds, pull your tongue back for 5 seconds and then pop it back out for another look.

This is a considerably basic guide to tongue examination to give you a little insight into how much your body can change every day. If you have any concerns, go and see your accredited Oriental Therapist for a more accurate diagnosis.

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