by Yohanan Burket
For many years, doctors have used tongue depressors on patients’ tongues in order to get an assessment of overall health. This holistic approach has merit, because different tongue conditions point to different systemic problems. Although sometimes ignored by allopathic medicine today, naturopaths and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) specialists make use of diagnosing diseases via a visual tongue inspection. TCM also correlates different areas of the tongue with different organs. Examples of ailments that are indicated by the tongue include anemia, thrush, dehydration, cyanosis (insufficient oxygen to the lungs), allergies, digestive or kidney problems. A visual inspection of the tongue involves the investigation of its color, texture, and coating.
What Tongue Color Indicates
Various tongue colors correspond to certain conditions:
Pale Color – If the tongue or surrounding areas are pale, it means that you are anemic and need to take more iron. Beef liver is an excellent food remedy. In TCM, a pale color indicates lethargy and refers to the lungs and colon. Recommended herbs to take are cinnamon, garlic, and/or ginger.
- Bright Red Color – A bright red color indicates inflammation and a lack of critical nutrients, especially B vitamins and iron. To restore energy and vitality, take red meat, apricots, nuts, and beef liver (not chicken liver). These food items are rich in B vitamins, and are needed for energy and proper nervous system function. In TCM, excessive heat is indicated, and the redness may appear more pronounced in one area of the tongue. For example, if the redness was mostly at the back of the tongue, then the intestines are indicated. Recommended foods to take for this condition are watermelon, green tea, and cucumbers.
- Purple Color – This color is indicative of poor circulation, which is connected to arteriosclerosis. A proper remedy for this condition is the Blood Pressure Reducer formula offered by Out of the Box Remedies. This formula contains Olive leaf, Hawthorn berry, and Ginkgo Biloba. According to TCM, too much sugar can bring on this condition, making you feel cold and tired. This condition is common among diabetics. Warming herbs such as ginger, garlic, and coriander are suggested.
What Tongue Texture Indicates
Various tongue textures correspond to certain conditions:
- Dryness – Saliva is produced by the salivary glands, the fleshy sacs located beneath the tongue. Stress is said to reduce saliva production. The flow of saliva can be stimulated by taking apple cider vinegar or lemon in a glass of water, which also raises the pH level in the mouth for good health. If these remedies do not help, you might have Sjorgren’s syndrome. If you ingest too many dairy products or too much sugar, excess mucus is created, which in turn causes a dry tongue condition.
- Raised Red Spots – Redness on the tip of the tongue is indicative of exposure to excessively hot drinks. If the gums are also bleeding, then one lacks bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are a naturally-occurring co-factor in natural vitamin C, and are not found in ascorbic acid alone. Isolated ascorbic acid is what is found in most vitamin C tablets, but this is only one of the constituents of natural vitamin C. Bioflavonoids strengthen the small capillaries that feed the gums. Natural sources of bioflavonoids include berries, kiwi, peppers, and citrus fruits. In TCM, spots on the tongue indicate eczema or asthma. TCM recommendations for this condition are the herbs Red Clover, Devil’s Claw, garlic (for eczema), licorice (for asthma), and Ginkgo Biloba (also for asthma).
What a Tongue Coating Indicates
A white coating on the tongue is normal and healthy, as long as the coating is thin. A heavy white coating could be candidiasis, also known as thrush. This is a very serious condition that can lead to tongue cancer if not addressed. Typical of this condition is a lack of taste perception and bad breath. To attack this problem, sugar intake must be minimized and the pH level raised. Brushing your teeth with baking soda combined with 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide is recommended. A special formulation for thrush is offered by Out of the Box Remedies, in addition to a Healthy Teeth & Gums formula.
If no coating at all exists, then according to TCM, it means that the stomach is not properly digesting food. An enzyme formula is recommended in this case.