I recollect as a child when I fell sick, my family physician would ask me to stick my tongue out while examining me. Tongue analysis is an olden health assessment technique, still used by medical practitioners. Tongue plays a vital role in determining our health, its colour, texture and coating indicate digestive issues and body imbalances.
Anyone can learn and apply the basics of tongue diagnosis to monitor their own health.
Here are some general guidelines that anyone can use to evaluate their health.
Colour of the tongue
The normal color of a healthy tongue is a nice Sanguine pink – a perfect blend of red and white. Any deviation from the normal colour shows an imbalance in the body.
- A bright red tongue could be an indication of scarlet fever, vitamindeficiencies or Kawasaki disease (a serious illness causing heart problems in children). According tosome herbalist, a bright red tongue could also be due to excess heat in specific organs. Eating foods like watermelon, gooseberry, muskmelon, honeydew melon, pomegranate and cucumber helps cool the body.
- A purple colour tongue could signal problems related to blood circulation, high cholesterol, chronic bronchitis, nutritional deficiencies and even weak digestive system. Also consuming too much of cold foods can lead to the tongue turning purple.
- A pale tongue indicates low levels of haemoglobin in the blood. It may also indicate fatigue and weakness. Eating foods like raisins, prunes, currants, dates, spinach, beetroots, red meat and kidney beans will increase the level of haemoglobin in the blood.
Texture of the tongue
You have a healthy tongue when it is relatively smooth and slightly moist. But thicker, patchy or coloured coatings, can signify health issues.
- Dry tongue may signal dehydration, kidney problems or iron-deficiency.
- Scrotal tongue or furrowed tongue is an illness where cracks develop in the tongue, giving it a wrinkled look. This can arise due to infection or malnutrition.
- Geographic tongue is an inflammatory disorder that leads to formation of small pinkish-white bumps over the tongue. The name comes from the map-like appearance of the tongue. Generally these bumps heal over time, but you may experience some level of tongue discomfort and sensitivity to certain foods.
The Tongue Coating
The tongue coat, which often appears on the middle or at the back of the tongue, reflects how well you are absorbing the food you eat.
- A thin white coating shows healthy digestive function. While thick white coating often happens during a cold or flu. Its also a sign that toxins are leaving your system.
- Yellowish coating indicates heat in your body. It can also be due to bacterial infection or inflammation in the body.
- Gray or grayish-black coating suggests long-term stomach or intestinal problems.
- A thick tongue coat is associated with poor gut function.In case your tongue does nothave any coating, it means that your digestive system is not functioning properly.
Keeping the above guidelines in mind it would be easier to assess your health. Also variety of medications like antibiotics, corticosteroids, diuretics can also cause changes in the colour, texture and coating of the tongue.
In order to improve digestion and the appearance of your tongue here are a few tips that you may follow ~
- Eat more of fermented foods and drink probiotic beverages to get your system back into balance.
- Avoid starchy and acidic foods that can be unhealthy for your digestive system. Like the Japanese practice, “hara hachi bu” which means eat until you are 80 percent full.
- Add herbs and spices like turmeric, cardamom, cumin, fennel, ginger to your food to improve digestion.
- Drink warm ginger tea 20 minutes before a meal, it helps with indigestion and bloating.
- Eating warm food rather than cold food is beneficial especially if you have a low metabolism rate, it aids digestion.