Ayurvedic Tongue Analysis: What does your tongue say about your health?
The tongue according to Ayurveda is a strong diagnostic tool for looking at one’s systemic health. It is a very accurate view into the inner health of an individual. Tongue analysis can be used complimentary with pulse, nail and facial diagnosis in order to really see what is going on internally and detect issues that may not have manifested otherwise.
Although this technique is typically used by Ayurvedic practitioners and other Eastern healers, it is simple enough to do a self-diagnosis, even with an Ayurvedic newbie! Although not everything will always show up on the tongue, more often than not it does.
It is important to regularly check your tongue in order to recognize when your body is accumulating toxins, when foods are causing negative reactions to your system or when other indications of disorder may arise.
Here are some of the areas you can cover with tongue diagnosis:
- Organ health
- Vata, Pitta or Kapha imbalances
- Presence of toxins and where they are accumulating
- Tension and emotions held in the spine, shoulders or organs
- Thyroid disorder
- Malabsorption of nutrients
- Parasitic infection
- Inflammation in the body
Basically each area of the tongue is related to a certain organ in the body. As you can see in the picture above, the front of the tongue is related to the lungs and heart; the middle with the liver, spleen and stomach; and the back with the kidneys, small intestine and the colon. The very tip of the tongue correlates with the thyroid; and vertically, smack in the middle of the tongue reveals the spine.
Here are the most common tongue manifestations to look out for:
Tongue coating and location: If the tongue has any sort of coating on it, this is a very clear indication of toxic build-up in the system and poor overall digestion. The most common area the coating is typically found is on the back of the tongue, revealing that the toxic build-up is in the colon area. If you see a coating on a different area, then that would indicate toxic build-up in which ever corresponding organ is involved in that specific site of the tongue. If the entire tongue is coated, this indicates systemic toxins meaning the toxins are in the blood stream and invading the entire body.
Tongue coating and color: So the first line action is to discover if there are toxins and where they are located. After that, if you wish to dive deeper into diagnosis, you can look at the color of the coating which will reveal the doshic imbalance that is involved. If the coating is grey, black or brown, you can assume Vata toxins; if the coating is orange, reddish, yellow or green, this indicates Pitta toxins; and finally is there is a thick, whitish coating you can think Kapha toxins. This can be quite helpful as each toxin should be treated different, depending on which dosha is involved.
Vata imbalance: If a tongue is a so called “Vatatongue”, it is typically small, thin and shaky or trembling in appearance. It may look pale in color, appear to be dried out and have a few or many cracks on the top of it. Once again, if there is a coating it will be grey, blackish or brown in color and will typically coat the colon area of the tongue. This is a storybook picture of a tongue revealing a Vata imbalance.
Pitta imbalance: If a tongue is of a Pitta nature, it may be medium in size, have a sharp or pointy tip and be excessively red in color. There may also be red dots on the top of the tongue which reveals excessive heat in the blood. If there is a coating on the tongue, it will be green, yellow or orange in color. The coating will typically be located in the small and large intestine area, the liver area or may also be on the entire tongue revealing toxins in the blood stream.
Kapha imbalance: A tongue revealing a Kaphaimbalance tends to be large, thick and heavy by nature. It may appear swollen, pale in color and have thick saliva build-up. If there is a coating on a Kapha imbalanced tongue, the color of the coating usually will be whitish, thick and mucusy. The coating may be located in the colon, the kidney area, the lung area and/or the stomach area revealing increased Kapha in these organs.
Teeth marks around the perimeter of the tongue: Unfortunately, it is quite common to see indentation marks along the outside perimeter of the tongue. This is a classic indication that there is malabsorption in the body of essential nutrients. There are many different reasons for improper nutrient absorption including toxic build-up in the body, poor digestion, inflammation in the gut, poor diet or allergenic foods being consumed in the diet.
Crack, vertically down the center of the tongue: This vertical line that may be located down the center of the tongue, is an indication that there is stress and emotions being help in the spine. The top of the spine area correlates to the top of the tongue and the lower spine correlates to the back of the tongue. So wherever the spine line manifests on the tongue reveals where the tension is being held. If there is any cracking along the spine, this indicates pain, tension and misalignment at which ever point the crack corresponds to on the tongue/spine. This picture is an example of an individual with total spine tension with some misalignment in the neck area.
Many cracks all over the tongue: The appearance of multiple small cracks all over the tongue is a clear indicator of a strong, chronic Vata derangement such as high anxiety, fear, insomnia and possibly a nervous system disorder. If the cracks are only located on one area of the tongue, this may reveal chronic high Vata in that correlating organ (i.e. Vata in the colon).
Swollen tongue: A swollen tongue may be a sign of inflammation in the body indicating the presence of an allergen such as an undesirable food. This can also reveal a Kapha imbalance such as hypothyroidism or fluid retention as well.
Drooping in the heart area of the tongue: A hollowness or scooping in at the area of the heart is a common indicator that there is unresolved sadness, grief or depression in the heart. This picture shows a clear depression in the heart as well as systemic toxins, due to the coating, and excessive heat in the blood, due to the red dots and red edges of the tongue.
Red, raised papillae on the top of the tongue: If you see these raised red dots on the surface of your tongue, this typically means there is excessive Pitta or heat in the plasma and blood. Typically, a tongue with these red dots will also be excessively red along the perimeter, confirming this increase of heat.
Pale tongue: A pale tongue is typically a sign of low red blood cells indicating possible anemia and malnutrition. The nail beds and skin typically will also appear pale as well.
So there you have the most common attributes to look for in a self-tongue diagnosis along with what these different revelations may indicate for your health.
Don’t forget to make this part of your daily routine in order to stay consistent with the awareness of your internal health. It is best to do an analysis each morning before brushing the teeth or scraping the tongue for the most accurate diagnosis. As always it is best to learn from a knowledgeable practitioner, so if any questions arise, please do not hesitate to contact me with questions!