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.



In Chinese medicine, the tongue is used as a source for diagnosis because it has visual indicators that can lead to the root of issues. As an acupuncturist, it is a major tool that I use for diagnosis and treatment.

Though it is important that I know if your diagnosis is an ailment such as arthritis, thyroid disorder or even just back pain, the title isn't as important to me as are your symptoms.

Here is how to use your tongue for diagnosis:


If your tongue is really red, it could indicate that the body is overheated. You may have feel hot, perspire, get easily flushed, difficulty falling asleep, vivid dreams, constipation, pungent dark stool, hunger, very emotional and/or irregular periods. These symptoms could signal a hyperactive thyroid, high blood pressure and/or menopause.

If your a tongue is pale, it can mean that there are issues with digestion, energy and blood flow. You may experience lethargy, pale complexion, dizziness (especially upon standing), shortness of breath, sluggish bowel movement, bloating after eating, scanty period (one or two days), little or no milk production after labor. You may also have the following disorders: low blood pressure, anemia, infertility and/or frequent miscarriages.

If your tongue is purplish or dark that may indicate a lack of proper blood circulation. You may also have body aches and pain, joint, neck and shoulder stiffness, 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.


If your tongue has a thick greasy coating, that can be because you are consuming too many greasy, cloying foods. This is due to the fact that your body can’t get rid of the grease, or because you are already dehydrated and the water capacity is 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 tend to have high cholesterol or fatty liver.

A thick yellow coating, right in the center of the tongue, can mean that you are dehydrated and can’t digest your food. You may have some of the following symptoms: body heat, sweating, body odor, bad breath, yellow urine, constipation, pungent or dark stool, 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 coating can indicate that there are problems with absorption in your stomach and liver. Heartburn, stomach pain, interrupted sleep, vivid dreams, dry skin and discomfort of the side of body. These people may also have issues with their livers, stomachs or gastric ulcers.


A trembling tongue may indicate a chronic condition that has drained the body's energy leading to fatigue and tiredness.

A puffy tongue with ridges on the side, indicates that the body is so tired that even the muscle of the tongue doesn't have adequate energy to hold itself in place. This can cause your mouth to be super relaxed and taking the shape of the teeth.

Those who experience a trembling or puffy tongue may experience puffy and heavy limbs, bloating, lack of energy, constipation, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, and puffy face and eyes in the morning. You may have the following disorders, under active thyroid, chronic fatigue syndrome, overweight or polycystic ovaries.


Dark veins under our tongues can tell us about blood circulation.. If your tongue look dark purple or is swollen that could mean that blood isn't moving throughout the body as it should.


Though deep rooted or thin lined cracks on your tongue could be a congenital issue it can also mean that something has led to dehydration. If the cracks are horizontal, it could mean a lack in hydration, too many sports, excess 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.

Overall, it is useful to examine your own tongues regularly to understand how different foods, your nighttime sleep, digestion and nourishment can affect the look daily. 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.


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