What Your Tongue May Be Telling You

Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tongue Health, balance qi, imbalance, naturopathic care, Castle Rock

Have you ever had a doctor look at your tongue, and we mean really look at your tongue?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the tongue can give clues as to what is going on in the body, communicating imbalances.  Different regions of the tongue are associated with specific parts of the body in which some signs may be a reflection of what’s going on inside.

Specifically, the layout of the tongue for TCM is:

  • Back of the tongue – kidney, bladder, and intestines
  • Middle of the tongue – spleen and stomach
  • Between middle and tip of the tongue – lungs
  • Tip of the tongue – heart
  • Sides of the tongue – liver and gallbladder

If a certain area of the tongue shows abnormality, it may be a sign of imbalance in which an organ, system, or meridian is in need of support and/or qi (energy) movement.

Although Dr. Graves doesn’t solely rely on clues of the tongue, he uses it occasionally as a general tool to see if the tongue matches a patient’s symptoms.

Following, we ask him questions about the tongue:

Is it normal to have a coating on the tongue?

Dr. Graves: Yes, a slight coating is normal.  However, a thick coating (white or yellow) may reflect a digestive imbalance.

This can be caused by a diet high in sugar, fatty and/or processed foods, and alcohol as well as dehydration and candida overgrowth (oral thrush).

What may ridges on the side of tongue indicate?

Dr. Graves: A swollen tongue can push against the teeth and create ridges.  In Chinese medicine, is thought that the tongue swells because there is not enough qi (energy) to move blood and fluid systemically.

This may be because qi is depleted somehow – either from pushing too hard and draining it or not taking in enough from food, sleep, nature, etc.

What if there is a crack in the tongue?

Dr. Graves: This can be genetic, but it could also be a sign of chronic qi deficiency.

Building qi (with whole foods, proper rest, movement, etc.) and living in balance can bring vitality back and even reduce or eliminate the crack.

What can color say?

Dr. Graves: As previously mentioned, different areas of the tongue are associated with specific organs.  If redness appears in a certain area, it may mean excess heat and/or stagnant energy in that organ or the meridian that runs to the organ.

For example, the tip of the tongue is linked to the heart so if there is redness there it can commonly mean emotional distress is affecting the heart. Anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and stress are all associated with this indicator.

In contrast, a pale tongue may mean coolness and depleted qi.  Poor circulation, fatigue, and feeling cold may be accompanying symptoms.

Monitoring the tongue can be a way to track if treatment is working to resolve an issue.  It may take some time – such as a few months – to notice differences, but this can be one piece to the puzzle in healing or reliving a root cause of symptoms.

Does your tongue showcase signs of imbalance?  If so, talk with Dr. Graves to see if it could be a clue to your health.

Please call us at (303) 688-6698 to make an appointment or click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation with him.  Learn what your tongue may be telling you and use it to feel better!

The CNMA office provides naturopathic care, acupuncture, testing, massage, and holistic counseling to those in Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Centennial, Parker, Larkspur, Monument, Colorado Springs, and the greater Denver metro area.  For those outside of these areas, virtual appointments are available.

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