Cart

Your cart is empty

Continue shopping now

Tongue Diagnosis

Sporty & Rich Wellness - Tongue Diagnostics

 

By: @drmelissacugliari

 

“What are you looking at?” is the most common question I hear after I ask a patient to stick his or her tongue out during a visit. While bizarre to someone who is unfamiliar with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this technique is one of the most essential diagnostic tools used by a trained practitioner. 

 

TCM is an ancient form of medicine that was developed over 2000 years ago. In TCM, a practitioner observes many physical characteristics when assessing a patient including their general demeanor, tone of voice, eyes, face structure, skin quality and tone, pulse, and the appearance of their tongue. In TCM, these are seen as some of the most telling qualities of someone's health.

 

The tongue is a great tool to understand what is going on inside your body. With some basic knowledge, you too can begin to understand what your tongue says about you. 

 

Note: There are many nuances associated with tongue diagnosis. This article barely begins to scratch the surface of this ancient technique. This is a very basic outline of a very complex system. 

 

Firstly, the tongue is best assessed in natural light. The tongue must not be assessed directly following a meal or drink, although water and most herbal teas are okay. Or, if a person has brushed/scraped his or her tongue that day or within the two to three days prior. 

 

The tongue in Chinese medicine provides a map for the body, with the tip of the tongue representing organs higher in the body (i.e. the heart and lungs), the middle representing the organs in the mid section of the body (i.e. the sides of the tongue represent the liver and gallbladder, and the middle represents the spleen and stomach), and the back of the tongue represents organs lower in the body (i.e. intestines, kidney, and bladder). What you see on the tongue is as important as where you see it on the tongue as this can tell a practitioner where the imbalances are in your system. 

 

When looking at the tongue, you are looking at the body, shape, and colour (whether it is pale, red, purple, small, puffy, enlarged, or pointy), the coating (the colour and whether it is thick or thin), the texture (whether it is dry, glossy, or greasy), along with other features such a spots and cracks. While some characteristics can be genetic or present from birth, others develop as we age based on lifestyle habits, diet, one’s mental-emotional state, and the health of our internal organs. 

 

A normal tongue is pink in colour, glossy, smooth with very few bumps (or none), has smooth sides, has no coating, or a very mild white coat towards the back. For reference, most babies are a great example of healthy tongues. 

 

Below are some common tongue characteristics and what they may indicate about your internal health. 

 

Tongue Color

 

Pale Tongue: 

 

A pale tongue indicates a state of deficiency in Chinese medicine. This individual usually has low energy overall. The most common specific diagnosis from this tongue colour is Qi deficiency, especially if the tongue has a thin white coat and jagged edges, or teeth marks along the sides. A person with Qi deficiency is depleted, fatigued, suffers from bloating and/or gas, and possibly has low appetite or difficulty concentrating. This may be accompanied by anxiety or worry.

 

Another diagnosis that may come from a pale tongue is blood deficiency - this is more common in women. Blood deficiency suggests a person does not have enough circulating blood and it is similar to what is diagnosed as iron deficiency or anemia in Western medicine. Symptoms include lethargy, pale skin, dizziness, poor memory and difficulty with concentration, thinning hair, brittle nails, insomnia, cold hands and feet, and sometimes shortness of breath or heart palpitations.

 

A pale tongue may also indicate a yang deficiency. This tongue usually has a thicker white coat and is more puffy in appearance. This individual will have low mood and apathy, feelings of burn-out, low libido and low overall spirit. They will also be very sensitive to cold and may suffer from lower back pain. This diagnosis is common in those who have a Western diagnosis of hypothyroidism. 

 

Red Tongue: 

 

A red tongue accompanied by a yellow coating and/or red spots can indicate heat in the body. This tongue profile will present in people who get hot and sweaty easily. He or she may be irritable, easy to anger or have a short-temper. Painful and red acne can be associated with this condition. Depending on where the redness is located, there may be heat in a certain organ. For example, if the center of the tongue is red, this may indicate heat in the stomach which can present as heartburn or indigestion. Heat can be a sign of a deeper imbalance, for example, a Yin deficiency. A person with a Yin deficiency will experience irritability, joint concerns, hot flashes, insomnia, and/or night sweats.

 

Purple Tongue: 

 

When accompanied with veins under the tongue that are dark purple or distended, this tongue indicates blood stasis. This condition may present as cold limbs, headaches, varicose veins, achey or painful legs, and dry or scaling skin. If this person ever suffers from pain, the pain is typically sharp or stabbing in nature.  

 

Other: 

 

A variable colour pattern may indicate Qi stagnation. This tongue will have a red tip and possibly red sides, while the centre and back can be normal or lighter in colour. A person with Qi stagnation is emotional, suffers from mood swings, and becomes stressed easily. 

 

Tongue Shape 

 

A swollen or enlarged looking tongue can indicate a condition in TCM called dampness. Individuals with dampness have a greasy or oily looking tongue, which may have a white or yellow coating. If the coating is yellow, this indicates “damp heat” which is usually accompanied by IBS type symptoms, skin concerns, or being easier to anger. If the coating is white, there may be "damp retention" and a person can present with loose stools, indigestion and gas. A damp person will be aggravated by hot, humid or damp weather. 

 

Lines or grooves on the tongue are also important. Depending on where they are located, lines or demarcations on the tongue can indicate an imbalance in a specific organ. For example, if you have a deep crack in the tongue down the midline, this may indicate a digestive imbalance. 

 

Remember, any of these patterns are not a cause for alarm - they simply provide insight into your current state and what your body may need to feel more balanced. 

 

Tongue diagnosis is a complex art that is refined after years of practice and study. A trained practitioner has viewed hundreds of tongues before even beginning to practice. If you are curious, find a TCM Doctor, licensed acupuncturist or trained naturopathic doctor in your area who is qualified to assess and treat you.

Previous
Next

The Wellness Club

How Alcohol Effects Your Gut

How Alcohol Effects Your Gut

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: Megan Tomlin @gooodmoodfoood By now, almost everyone knows that alcohol is not the healthiest thing for our minds and bodies. But what do we know about the effect that alcohol has on our gut microbiome health? Before I answer this, there are a few terms I want to define for...

Read more
The Unseen Mental Health Challenges High Achievers Face

The Unseen Mental Health Challenges High Achievers Face

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

 By: @ericabassotherapy It's hopeful to see how much society has progressed in embracing mental health discussions. But as a mental health provider, I still notice gaps in our understanding of accurate mental health information. We can all get better at recognizing signs of mental health struggles and feeling empowered to seek support when needed. As a licensed...

Read more
The Importance of Skin pH for a Clear, Healthy Complexion

The Importance of Skin pH for a Clear, Healthy Complexion

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @drmelissa.co The concept of the skin barrier has become a part of many skincare aficionado’s vocabulary, but what does it really mean?  It is important to remember...

Read more
The Ancient Ritual of Oil Pulling

The Ancient Ritual of Oil Pulling

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @emily_campbell Oil pulling has been an ancient ritual in India and is a sacred practice that has roots in ancient Hindu texts and scriptures. Known in Sanskrit as Kavala Graha or Gandusha, the regime of swishing around 1 tbsp of oil for 15-20 minutes and then spitting it out is primarily used for its oral health benefits. This simple regime has been...

Read more
The Mental Health Benefits From Travel

The Mental Health Benefits From Travel

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @ericabassotherapy We can all probably recall that moment when you’re finally feeling relaxed on vacation and you hear yourself expressing, “I need to do this more often!”. Despite the research that supports the mental health benefits of taking regular vacations and traveling, it’s been found that a significant number of American workers don’t take all of their allocated...

Read more
High Intensity Exercise: Good or Bad?

High Intensity Exercise: Good or Bad?

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By @coreflexpilates founder Chris Bardawil HIIT or high intensity interval training has become a pretty normal part of modern training, its something you have probably already done without even realising it. It was popularised over a decade ago with Crossfit and now modernised in many forms of classes we see at gyms as well as being seen all over the web with HIIT routines and...

Read more
5 Benefits of Reformer Pilates

5 Benefits of Reformer Pilates

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @coreflexpilates, founder Chris Bardawil Reformer pilates is everywhere, it's not just all over social media we are also seeing our favourite celebs doing it. The reality is reformer pilates has been a staple of many people’s exercise routines for over a decade now, and for good reason.

Read more
Burnout: What Is It and How to Recover

Burnout: What Is It and How to Recover

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @drmelissa.co Burnout is a concern I see often in clinical practice. Although it is not a diagnosable disease, it is a syndrome, meaning it is defined by a set of symptoms, but does not have a consistent progression or clear treatment plan. In other words, burnout is a very real issue, but may look different from person to person and require...

Read more
Nutritional Support for Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism

Nutritional Support for Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

  By: Megan Tomlin @gooodmoodfoood Did you know that up to 60% of cases of Hashimoto’s disease go undiagnosed? Or that women are 5 to 8 times more likely to have a thyroid condition? Knowing these facts, it is shocking that so many of us are still unclear about...

Read more
Are Collagen Supplements Worth Taking? A Dermatologist Weighs In.

Are Collagen Supplements Worth Taking? A Dermatologist Weighs In.

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @dermahealthnutrition The pursuit of youthful, glowing skin is a timeless quest. It fuels a booming industry of skincare products, treatments, and supplements, including collagen, all claiming to improve the signs of ageing. Here's what you need to know to navigate the abundance of collagen powders, capsules, and liquids.  Skin ageing is a multifaceted...

Read more
Sporty & Rich Wellness - Collagen-Rich Foods vs. Supplements

Collagen-Rich Foods vs. Supplements

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @coreflexpilates founder Chris Bardawil What is the best way to boost your body's collagen production? Supplements or diet, here is a run down of the basics to help you navigate your way around understanding collagen and how you can boost your body's supplies. Collagen...

Read more
The Power of Spending Time in Silence

The Power of Spending Time in Silence

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

@emily_campbell In today’s age, even if you don’t live in a hustling and bustling city, you may still experience constant noise. We have become so accustomed to noise everywhere we go, including our homes. Without knowing it, you may prefer “background noise” to block out any unwanted thoughts or feelings that pop up....

Read more