If you’re wondering whether this is remotely relevant… whether the state of your tongue actually has anything to do with your health or it’s all BS… remember that MY tongue told me I had cancer.
I never paid much attention to this either till that fateful day but now I can clearly see how the tongue can give a picture of your overall health.
So, when recently my mother went to a cardiologist and he made her stick out her tongue, I wasn’t at all surprised. Even though her problem is high blood pressure, the treatment always begins with a visual examination of the tongue.
And that’s a trend I am increasingly seeing with most doctors, whether traditional or given to more modern medicinal practises.
The reason? Everything about this muscular organ — right from the tongue color to its smoothness and indentations — gives out more clues about your health than one might ever imagine.
For example, a white coating on the tongue could tell the doctor to address your digestion, while one with a purple tinge could point towards circulation problems.
Reading the tongue has always been a cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), much like face mapping, and it’s now getting a standing ovation by modern science as well.
What does a perfectly healthy tongue look like?
It’s uniformly pink, moist, plump and has a very thin white coating. It shouldn’t quiver when you stick it out and there should be no cracks, grooves or indentations.
Is that you? Congratulations, you seem in good health.
If not, stick out your tongue, look in the mirror and learn to read what your tongue is trying to tell you about your health**.
Super smooth tongue
If you think having a smooth, moist tongue — which is very close to a healthy tongue’s normal appearance — puts you in the clear about health problems, think again.
According to TCM, an overtly smooth tongue could signify water retention, mucus buildup or a weakened immune system that requires medical attention.
So, it may be a good idea to dig deeper at your next annual physical.
Thick white coating on the tongue
Practising proper oral hygiene but still seeing white patches on your tongue?
It’s a medically established fact that a white coating on the tongue is one of the main symptoms of a yeast infection or fungal infection such as oral thrush or Candida.
Traditional Chinese Medicine takes it further, explaining that a coating of the tongue indicates ‘stagnation’ or a ‘cold zheng’.
A white tongue could then be speaking of a sluggish digestive system, mucus buildup, tendency towards back problems, lack of beneficial bacteria in the body or excess fat in your diet.
Our tongue goes beyond being indicative of oral health alone.
A pale tongue could indicate poor circulation, mucus overload, fat accumulation or anaemia.
This becomes even more likely if you are feeling low on energy and exhausted.
Red bumps on the tongue
A ‘strawberry tongue’ could be indicating digestion problems or insomnia. A bumpy tongue may also be symptomatic of a stressful lifestyle.
And remember, if you have painful bumps that turn into mouth ulcers or canker sores that lasts more than a couple of weeks you HAVE to consult a health care provider as it may be pointing to a more serious illness, such as being a sign of cancer.
Yes, it happened to me — and I so wish someone had told me this earlier.
Shades of red and yellow on the tongue
Red and yellow as tongue colors? It’s not simply poor oral hygiene.
According to traditional Chinese medical practitioners, red patches or a largely yellow tongue is a sign of a ‘hot zheng‘, which may be manifested as an infection or inflammation in the body, especially the liver, gall bladder or intestines.
It may also indicate high blood pressure, anaemia or another blood problem, and may be a sign that you need to cut down on excessive dairy products, eggs, meat, sugar, alcohol and spices.
As I explained earlier, a healthy tongue is pink. If your tongue is tinged purple, check for health issues such as sluggish blood flow, high cholesterol and other circulation problems.
It may also be a warning to cut down on sugar, alcohol and an intolerance to certain medications.
Green as a tongue color? This may be the sign of an underlying health issue such as a progressive infection in the body.
White or red spot on the tip of the tongue
Small bumps on the tongue? While a white bump on the tip of your tongue may point to kidney problems, a red one could be the sign of emotional stress or an allergic reaction in the body.
A healthy tongue is smooth. A cracked tongue, on the other hand, could be a sign of dehydration or nutritional deficiencies (particularly folic acid and vitamin C).
A crack that runs down the centre of the tongue may speak of a bad stomach or indigestion.
Tooth indentations on the tongue
If you regularly have teeth marks on the surface of your tongue, it could be because of low immunity, exhaustion, fluid retention, vitamin deficiency, digestive problems or the spleen.
Check your nutritional levels as this may indicate a deficiency, particularly vitamin B and iron.
If you are getting a burning sensation on your tongue, it may be because of an upset stomach.
A tongue that doesn’t stay still could be a sign of chronic exhaustion.
** As with all medical issues, you should see your doctor for a proper prognosis. This is just a general guide to head you off in the right investigative direction!