The tongue can tell us many things about our health. It is used as a diagnostic tool in TCM to find out exactly what’s going on in our bodies. According to TCM, different areas of the tongue are directly related to specific organs. Based on colour, shape and coating, a diagnosis can be made to address certain health conditions and illnesses.
A healthy tongue should be an average shape and coloured pink with a thin white coating. Examination should always be conducted in natural light conditions and the following factors need to be considered for a more accurate diagnosis:
- Food and drink consumed before examination
- Tongue brushing; you should avoid brushing the tongue, when cleaning your teeth before an examination
- The season
- The time of day
- The patient’s age
The following are common tongue presentations often found during an examination.
The tip of the tongue is associated with the heart, not just the organ but also the mind and emotions. A red tip can indicate too much ‘heat’ and symptoms can include stress, anxiety and insomnia.
Indicates excessive heat and damp. Symptoms include irritability, rashes and a poor digestive function.
Little/No Coating, Cracks
Indicates a yin deficiency resulting in exhaustion, dehydration and stomach ailments.
Indicate a weakened immune system and the presence of accumulating toxins in the body.
Indicate a Qi deficiency that can result in a sluggish digestion, low energy and weight gain.
A tongue examination is not an exact diagnostic tool; it is only one part of TCM diagnostics and should be performed in conjunction with other TCM techniques for a more accurate verification of a patient’s condition.