Article by: Mona Dan, a leading acupuncturist and owner of Vie Healing in Beverly Hills, specializing in Traditional Oriental Medicine and using healing treatments and tools to help reignite inner vitality and vibrancy. www.viehealing.com
READY TO FIND OUT EVERYTHING THAT's GOING ON INSIDE YOUR BODY? JUST STICK YOUR TONGUE OUT IN FRONT OF A MIRROR!
As an acupuncturist, the tongue is one of the major tools I use to come to a diagnosis and treat. In Chinese medicine, the tongue is used as a very influential source for diagnosis, as it's the only external organ of the body with visual indicators and this is important because we can you these indicators to heal the root of issues. So, the Western diagnosis you come in with, may it be, arthritis, thyroid disorders or even just back pain, we don't necessarily count on. We definitely care about what you're going through, but the title isn't as important to us than the SYMPTOMS are.
Symptoms, what we feel in your pulse and what we see on your TONGUE = proper diagnosis.
Now, since we can't discuss current symptoms and I can't feel your pulse, I'm going to offer you some information so you can diagnose your own tongue!
There are a few things we look for when looking at a tongue for diagnosis:
- DARKNESS OF SUBLINGUAL VEINS
How your body flows blood is a very important aspect in general wellness. In Chinese medicine, we throw around terminology of "blood deficiency" or "excess blood." This isn't correlated to anemia. It correlates to is the quality of your blood; if you blood doesn't have the right energy behind it, it can be sluggish, causing weakness or if there is an excess, it can create inflammation.
If a tongue is really red, it indicates that the body has excessive heat in the body. The body may have the following symptoms: body feels hot, easy to perspire, red face, takes time to fall asleep or vivid dreams, constipation, pungent dark stool, hunger (eats more), very emotional (easy to get anxious) or period comes earlier. Some may have disorders including hyperactive thyroid, high blood pressure or menopause.
If a tongue is pale, it indicates that the body has a lack of proper digestion, energy and blood flow. You may have some of the following symptoms: lack of energy, pale face, dizziness (especially upon standing), short of breath, sluggish bowel movement, bloating after eating, scanty period (one or two days), little or no milk production after labor. These people may also have the following disorders: low blood pressure, anemia or infertility/frequent miscarriage.
If a tongue is purplish or darkish, it indicates a lack of proper blood circulation. Usually you may have the some of the following symptoms: body aches/pain, joint, neck and shoulder stiffness and pain, chest pain, headaches or period pain with blood clots and brownish bleeding. These people may suffer disorders such as endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, migraine and arthritis.
The coating on the tongue indicates the level of hydration. When the body isn't nourished in hydration the tongue immediately looks and feel dry. You may have some of the following symptoms: insomnia, vivid dreams, hot flashes, constipation, dry skin, thirst, heartburn or hunger. These people have the following disorders such as hyperactive thyroid, menopause, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety or gastric ulcer.
If you have a thick greasy coating, it is an indicator that your body has lots of dampness and fluid. This can happen for various reasons. Either you are consuming too many greasy, cloying foods that aren't right for you body and your body can't get rid of the grease, or because you are already dehydrated and the water capacity is now turbid and thick, causing a different level of dehydration. With this tongue coating, you may suffer from symptoms such as heavy arms and legs, bloating, lack of energy, stiff joints, weight gain, sluggish bowel movement. These people usually have high cholesterol or fatty liver.
A thick yellow coating, right in the center of the tongue, means your body is dehydrated and can't digest your food. You may have some of the following symptoms: body heat, sweating, body odor and bad breath, yellow urine, constipation, pungent or dark stool, pass lots of gas, bloating, red face, vivid dreams or nightmares or insomnia. These people may also suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or liver/gallbladder disease.
An uneven a coating indicates an issue with hydration in your stomach and liver. You may suffer from symptoms such as heartburn, stomach pain, interrupted sleep, vivid dreams, dry skin and discomfort of the side of body. These people may have the disorders such as liver and stomach disorders or gastric ulcers.
A quivering or trembling tongue body indicates a chronic condition that has drained the bodies energy and caused a level of fatigue and tiredness. When the tongue has a puffy body with ridges on the side, it indicates that the body is so tired that even the muscle of the tongue doesn't have adequate energy to hold itself in place, so it's super relaxed in the mouth, taking the shape of the teeth. The teeth are literally holding your tongue in place.
You may have symptoms such as body heaviness, puffy and heavy limbs, bloating, lack of energy, sluggish bowel movement, easy to gain weight or hard to lose weight, weight gain before your period or puffy face and eyes in the morning. These bodies usually have the following disorders such as under-active thyroid, chronic fatigue syndrome, overweight or polycystic ovaries.
DARKNESS OF SUBLINGUAL VEINS
These are the veins underneath your tongue when you roll your tongue up. These veins tell us about blood circulation as well and your tongue body color. When they aren't as healthy as they should be, they are swollen. The darker the color is, the worse it is as well. the closest to a lighter shade of dark blue is healthiest. When they look more dark purple or black that means blood isn't moving throughout the body as it should.
Deep rooted or even thin lined racks, might be congenital, meaning it's something you're born with or prone to. If you're not born with it and it's what you're prone to it means something has eaten up the fluids. If you find cracks that are horizontal, that almost always means a lack in hydration, too many sports, too much sweating or even hormonal shifts. If you find cracks on a pale tongue, it usually means that the energy and the blood flow is low. And if you find cracks on a red tongue, it usually means that there's heat – either excessive heat that's used up the moisture on the tongue or there's insufficiency of fluids or malabsorption. which you can see as a vertical central crack that usually gets deeper and deeper.
Overall, It is useful to examine your own tongue regularly overtime to get to understand how different foods, your nighttime sleep, digestion and nourishment affect the look of your tongue day to day. Note any changes and especially when you experience an illness. If you like to take a little look for comparison of the tongues of your friends and family for reference, it's a great opportunity.