The next time someone sticks their tongue out at you, look closely! Our tongues are helpful tools in telling us information about our health. Tongue evaluations are a key tool in helping with diagnosis and treatment protocols in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). According to TCM, areas of the tongue correspond with various organs and health conditions. The tip of your tongue, for example, corresponds with the heart, followed by an area that relates to the lungs. The middle section of the tongue relates to your stomach and spleen and the back portion of the tongue corresponds with the intestines, kidney and bladder.
By looking at your tongue, a practitioner can detect health issues and weaknesses in certain organs and help uncover the root cause of various symptoms.
Multiple factors come into play--the shape of the tongue, color, texture, coating and more. Although tongue readings are not considered legitimate by Western Medicine, several peer reviewed studies support the accuracy of the tongue being used as a diagnostic health tool.
Here are some top things to look for and what they might indicate regarding your health:
The color of your tongue tells a lot about your overall health.
A healthy tongue is pink with a light white coat that can’t be scraped off easily. This is simply the natural flora of the tongue. A healthy tongue is also free from any ulcers or sores. Check the sides of the tongue for teeth marks--you shouldn’t have any indentations on the sides of your tongue. Look for cracks in the tongue--your tongue should not have any cracks.
Is your tongue a deep red? If it’s dark red in color rather than pink, this could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance, infection or heat/inflammation. A dark red tongue might be accompanied by insomnia, hot flashes, joint pain and muscle aches, restlessness, menopausal symptoms, anger and irritability and night sweats.
Is your tongue dark or bluish purple? This might be a sign of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or an issue with the circulatory system, according to alternative medicine.
A pale/whitish tongue can indicate a weakened immune system or lack of energy and blood deficiency. This could be a nutrient deficiency, anemia or even poor thyroid function. Generally, people with a pale tongue complain of fatigue and lightheadedness, hair loss, brittle nails, lack of energy, constipation and other digestive issues, brain fog and heart palpitations.
The size of the tongue also matters! It tells much about overall health, particularly when it comes to energy or lack of energy in the body.
A swollen tongue is associated with stagnant energy. When a tongue becomes swollen/puffy, it may rest against the teeth and create what is known as a scalloped tongue. You will see ridges on the sides of the tongue as a result of teeth pressing continuously against it. This is a sign of low energy that may be the result of nutrient deficiencies, malabsorption issues, hypothyroidism, anemia and other health issues related to low metabolic rate and improper energy production and utility.
A tongue that appears too thin might be associated with agitation, anger, insomnia and agitation. These are symptoms of liver congestion, in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The tongue might also be accompanied with a dark red coloring, signifying heat/inflammation. If a tongue appears extremely thin, it may also be a sign of dehydration.
Your tongue’s coating mirrors your digestive mucosal lining, according to Chinese Medicine. Your tongue should have a thin, white coating, which means you likely have a healthy gut flora. If your microbiome is out of balance, however, and you are experiencing gut issues, this might reflect on your tongue’s coating.
Constipated? Bloating? Gas? If you have a sluggish digestive system, your tongue might present with a thick white coating, which represents in TCM a coldness in the digestive tract. A thick yellow coating, on the other hand, signifies inflammation and heat in the digestive tract and can be a sign of infection or chronic inflammation.
Is your tongue cracked? This might be a sign of a deficit in your microbiome. Perhaps your gut flora is missing species variety or quantities of good bacteria that protect your digestive tract and support immune function. It may also further signify chronic inflammation.
There is much, much more to tongue evaluations, and this tool should not take the place of a diagnosis from a healthcare practitioner. Listening to signs our bodies give us, however, can provide the necessary pieces of information to address the root cause of illness and allow for a faster, easier path to wellness.
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