What Your Tongue Says About Your Health: Ayurvedic Tongue Diagnosis

By Ayuvi
August 02, 2022
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School biology defines the tongue as a fleshy, muscular and movable organ attached to the floor of our mouth and is the main organ responsible for taste, chewing and swallowing of food as well as for proper speech.

Medical knowledge goes further and states that the tongue is covered in pink tissue known as mucosa and small bumps called papillae which give it its rough texture. There are thousands of taste buds (microvilli) on the surfaces of papillae which send messages to the nerves in our brain about how any food that is eaten tastes (sour, bitter, sweet, salty, astringent, pungent).

Further and importantly, the tongue is the beginning of the digestive tract. As it is not possible to see, with normal eyes, further into the digestive system beyond the open mouth (without invasive procedures), the tongue is the best indicator to gauge the health of the digestive lining and its functioning.

  • Ayurveda and Tongue Diagnosis
  • Ayurveda, the vast medicinal knowledge practiced for thousands of years, is based on the principles of detailed diagnosis.

    Ashtavidha Pariksha or eight fold examination is the most commonly used diagnostic method in Ayurveda. Tongue- Analysis being the most important among these Ashtavidha Pariksha.

    Ayurveda lays great emphasis on having a healthy tongue as it is a sign of all round wellbeing. Diagnosis of a patient’s health includes pulse/nadi pariksha, palpation or pressing on the surface of the body to feel the organs, inspection and most importantly ayurvedic tongue diagnosis.

    Vaidyasara Sangraha, compiled around 1500-1570 by A.D. Vaidya Narasimha Shastri states various important aspects of Jivha Pariksha or tongue examination. It is important to regularly check the tongue to assess the health of the inner system.

    The tongue in a way represents the location of various internal organs and thus is a primary sign of their health. For instance

    • Front part of the tongue is connected to the lungs, heart and the gastrointestinal tract
    • The middle part connects to the stomach, liver and spleen
    • The back portion of the tongue related to the large intestine and the kidneys
    • The tongue tip is the thyroid location
    • The vertical line in the middle of the tongue signifies the spine

    As per ayurveda, common findings of a tongue diagnosis would reveal

    • The health of internal organs
    • TridoshasVata, Pitta, Kapha – balance (or imbalance)
    • Accumulation of ama/toxins
    • Any inflammation of organs
    • Whether patient is anemic
    • Malabsorption of nutrients in the small intestine
    • Any infections transmitted through parasites in water or food
    • Any tension in the spine or shoulder

  • Tongue Examination and Tridoshas
  • Ayurveda states that each of us is born with a specific Prakriti which is the result of the interaction between the tridoshas – vata/wind energy, pitta/fire energy and kapha/water energy – which are responsible for particular physical, mental and emotional traits in an individual. Well balanced tridoshas are the key to good health, any imbalances in their proportion results in diseases.

    An Ayurvedic tongue analysis can reveal the state of the tridoshas

    • If the Vata dosha is vitiated then the tongue appears cracked, yellowish and rough. Vata is connected to the nervous system of our body and stress, anxieties can cause vata dosha imbalance.
    • In case of Pitta dosha aggravation the tongue will appear red or bluish/black in color. Pitta dosha controls the digestive fire or agni and in effect the digestive system. Red dots, ulcers, hyperacidity that is present on the tongue is an indicator of pitta aggravation.
    • If the Kapha dosha is aggravated then the tongue will be watery and clear. Kapha dosha is prominent in the chest region and is instrumental in developing various tissues in our body. Any swelling, fluid retention or obesity reflects Kapha dosha imbalance.

  • Tongue Colors and Health
  • The color of the tongue is an important factor, unhealthy, healthy tongue color can be an indicator of the overall well being of a person.

    • Pink or slightly whitish color with soft buds that are uniform & clearly defined – indicates normal health
    • Slimy, wet, mucus or thick coating on tongue – indicates toxin build up in intestines, loose stools
    • Heavy white coating on tongue & bad breath – indicates ama or toxin build up and weakened digestive fore or agni
    • Cracked or dry tongue – indicates dehydration, constipation and dryness in intestinal lining
    • Red/scarlet/purplish or smooth and shiny – indicates intense heat or acidity in the digestive system
    • Grayish hue/coated pink – indicates bloating/gas, overweight, dark circles under eyes
    • Scallops or rippled edges on the side of tongue – sporadic heartburn, insufficient nutrient absorption
    • Side tongue red or shiny – indicates liver troubles and insufficient nutrient absorption
    • Burning sensation in tongue tip – sign of stress

  • Tongue Scraping & Gargling
  • Ayurvedic beliefs place a lot of importance on tongue scraping and tongue cleaning first thing in the morning.

    Tongue scraping or Nirlekhan is considered an important method in Ayurveda as it helps remove impurities on the tongue. Impurities on the root of the tongue can lead to inspiration and expiration complications in the respiratory process. Also, tongue contaminations are responsible for bad breath/odor.

    In ancient times, learned Acharyas insisted that tongue scrapers should be made from metals such as gold, silver, copper and brass. In present times using a copper tongue scraper is not only practical but also good for tongue health as copper helps counter bad bacteria and provides important enzymes that are needed for the healthy microbes of the mouth to survive.

    They also indicated the exact length (10 angul or approximately 18 cms) of the tongue scraper/dantun for maximum benefit. Regular tongue scraping helps improve diet intake as well as in overcoming conditions such as low body weight/anorexia.

    Maintaining a clean tongue is important to prevent diseases. Gargling or Gandush as it is referred to in Ayurveda, is another method of cleaning the tongue and improving its sensitivity. Gargling involves keeping warm water inside your mouth and moving it. Not only does it help clean the tongue, gargling also helps alleviate sore throat and improve voice.

    Consuming fragrant substances such as elaichi/cardamom, kapur/camphor, cloves/lavang, nutmeg/jaiphal, paan ki patti/betel leaves, etc. can also help keep the mouth clean, prevent bad breath and improve diet intake.

    Ayurveda states that the tongue is not just a taste organ but a window to the health of an individual. Maintaining oral hygiene and keeping a clean tongue is the first step towards all round health and wellbeing.

    Book an Ayurvedic consultation with an experienced Ayurvedic Vaidya for a detailed personal health evaluation including tongue analysis and facial analysis.

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