When you visit an acupuncturist, he or she will likely ask to look at your tongue, and patients often become embarrassed and say, “Oh, I should have brushed my tongue…”
Tongue diagnosis is one of the important diagnostic methods in oriental medicines, and an acupuncturist can gather quite a bit of information about you and your conditions by observing your tongue, such as its colour, shape, cracks and coating.
In general, a red tongue indicates you might have some kind of heat in the body, and red at the tip of the tongue can indicate that you are under stress or maybe anxious about something. On the other hand, a pale tongue suggests your energy, Qi, or blood may be on the lower side, or the presence of cold in the body. Your immune system might be weak, and you could be susceptible to infectious illness, such as a cold.
If your tongue looks puffy and swollen, you may be experiencing some problems with your digestion and may be retaining fluids in some part in your body. It is also quite common to see a tongue with scalloped or teeth-marked edges. This can indicate that your energy, Qi, is weak and that you may be leading a hectic and busy life, feeling tired and not getting enough time to relax.
The coating of the tongue can indicate the state of the stomach and other various acute conditions you might have. For example, if the coating in the centre of the tongue is thick yellow and dry, you may be experiencing stomach pains, bad breath, or a feeling of always being hungry.
So then, what is a ‘normal’ tongue? It should be pale red, not too thin and not too swollen, and with no teeth marks. Also, the coating should be close to none or thin and white, and slightly moist, not dry.
The conditions of your tongue change as your health changes, but in general the changes appear on the tongue more slowly (except a high fever developing from colds or a flu can create a very red tongue fairly quickly). In other words, the appearance of your tongue can suggest that certain health conditions might have been in the body for a long time.
When you visit an acupuncturist, it’s important to refrain from certain foods and drinks a few hours before your appointment. Certain foods such as curry, tomato ketchup, coffee, and tea may stain your tongue and make it difficult for your acupuncturist to make a proper diagnosis.
Get your tongue looked at and have regular acupuncture! It is a safe, drug-free, and great way to maintain your well-being and for longevity.