Whether or not you pay attention to the signs, or choose to listen to it, your body is constantly telling you about the state of your health! These subtle signs are right there in front of you- from aches and pains, to slight variations in the color of your skin in certain areas of your face, to the ever-changing qualities of your pulse and even the details of your tongue!
That’s right your tongue!
Believe it or not, your tongue changes over time. The thickness of your tongue and tongue coating, the color, the shape, how swollen or thin it is, canker sores in certain spots- they all tell a tale of what is going on deep within your body- in the places you can’t see. Each part of the tongue corresponds to a different organ in your body:
As Acupuncturists practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine we observe many different characteristics in each of our patients in order to form a complete diagnosis. This includes: Asking questions about signs and symptoms and looking at health history forms, Observing the patient’s demeanor- how they talk, how they sit, if they are fidgeting or lethargic, how their spirit conveys through their eyes, the different colors in their face, their personality, etc., Feeling their pulse rates in three positions on each wrist, Feeling certain areas of the abdomen during Hara diagnosis (Japanese Style Acupuncture) and Observing the qualities of the tongue.
When you come in for an Acupuncture appointment, you might find it weird that I ask you to stick out your tongue- but this is a key diagnostic tool I use to confirm my diagnosis! So take a look in the mirror and look at your friend/spouse/neighbor/child’s tongue and compare it to your own. You will notice they are all different!
Below is a chart with 9 common TCM syndromes and their respective tongues:
Healthy Tongue: A healthy tongue is naturally pink with a thin white coating.
Sometimes, temporary changes in color can occur due to certain foods staining the tongue such as blackberries, or coffee and cigarettes turning your tongue coat a yellow tinge.
Here are some characteristics I look for in my patients’ tongues. For detailed information on what each characteristic means, please visit: Yin Yang House
Color: Pink (normal), Pale, Red, Dark Red, Purple, Blue
Tongue Coating (Good indicator of Stomach and Spleen Qi):
Overall: Thin, thick, dry, moist, wet, sticky (greasy/creamy)
Color: White, Yellow, Gray, Black
Rooting: Rooted (moss appears firmly implanted in tongue), Rootless (Moss appears to float on the surface), Peeled or Patchy
Sub-linguals (the veins underneath your tongue): Swollen, Purple, Blue
Body Shape: Cracked, Deviated (crooked), Flaccid, Long, Short (contracted), Rigid, Stiff, Swollen, Thin, Thorny, Trembling (quivering)
Pretty cool right?
So next time you are in for your treatment, ask me what I see when I look at your tongue and we can look at it together!