Open Up & Say "Ahh" - Tongue Diagnosis

 

Tongue Diagnosis
The human body is one the most fascinating and complex systems in all of creation. It’s truly a remarkable system with each part affecting the whole and certain conditions of the whole affecting each part. For example, we can simply observe the quality of our skin and gather valuable information which reflects the health of the entire body. Similarly, the close observation of the tongue also provides clues which reflect the health of the entire body. In fact, “tongue diagnosis” is a vital instrument used in Ayurvedic Medicine not only for assessing a person’s current state of health but for determining one’s physical, mental, and emotional state of health.

Tongue diagnosis is both an art and science and for thousands of years, visual inspection of the tongue has been a unique and reliable diagnostic method for both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Ideally, the tongue should be supple, free of cracks, and when briefly sticking out the tongue - the tongue should not quiver or tremble.The tongue of a healthy person has a certain luster and shine with a fresh-looking pale red color along with a thin white coating that is not easily scrapped off. Generally, the coating on the tongue should be thin and may perhaps be slightly thicker towards the back of the tongue. However, an uneven or patchy coating on the tongue may reflect poor digestion and the presence of “ama” [toxins] within the G.I. tract.

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3 Basic Considerations
When doing a basic tongue assessment, consider the following:

  • general impression of the tongue’s vitality
  • tongue’s color, shape, and coating
  • underside of the tongue; evaluate the size and color of veins

 

Herbal Di-Gest
Supports improved digestion and balanced appetite; helps with gas, bloating, and discomfort.

 Aci-Balance
To help maintain proper stomach balance; soothes occasional acid indigestion and heartburn; helps with occasional flatulence and sour belching.

Tip Of The Tongue - Heart & Thyroid
The front tip of the tongue corresponds well with the heart region. For example, any crack or depression at the tip of the tongue may reveal a weakness in the heart [emotionally] or may even reveal an underlying heart disorder [i.e. genetic or acquired heart disease]. Similarly, a protruding red colored tip may reveal internal inflammation such as an overactive thyroid.

Center To The Tip Of The Tongue - Lungs
From the center of the tongue extending to near the tip of the tongue corresponds well with both the lungs. This area of the tongue is most often vulnerable to dryness and cracks which commonly reveals a state of dehydration and lung disease [i.e. asthma, bronchitis]. As we know, chronic smoking may lead to emphysema and this, for example, may reveal a darkened coating in middle region of the tongue.

The Center - Stomach, Spleen & Pancreas
The core digestive function is represented by the central region of the tongue and many underlying G.I. concerns can be seen here. For example, acidic conditions such as heartburn and/or GERD can be noticed by a distinct ulcer in this region. Likewise, swelling or stagnation in this central area may correspond to a more sluggish digestion.

The Sides Of The Tongue - Liver & Gallbladder
The side edges of the tongue correspond well to both the liver and gallbladder. For example, scalloped edges often reveal deficiencies in the liver and the inability to assimilate nutrients properly; i.e. malnutrition.

The Root Of The Tongue - Large Intestines
The root or back portion of the tongue represents mostly the large intestines while both sides of the base represent the kidneys, and adrenal glands. The back of the tongue often reveals years of accumulated toxins [“ama”] held in the colon and can be noticed by a thick whitish coating upon the tongue. This coating on the tongue represents the presence of “ama” in the G.I. tract and from an Ayurvedic perspective, “ama” is the root cause of all disease.

 

Tongue Coating - Yuckiness!!
Observing the presence of a noticeable thick whitish coating upon the tongue is one of the main diagnostic tools for evaluating one’s present state of health. For example, if the coating is excessive or thick it likely indicates poor digestion [diminished “agni”] and reflects the build-up of metabolic byproducts of poor digestion [“ama”] - the root cause of many diseases.

"Ama" - At Various Levels Of Digestion 

At The Level Of Gross Digestion
Poorly digested food in the GI tract creates a thick and slimy substance which then lines the walls of the bowels and impedes the absorption and assimilation of nutrients; i.e. malabsorption.

At The Level Of Cellular Digestion
Metabolic process of cellular digestion [i.e. oxidation] along with external impurities [“gara visha”; exogenous toxins] such as pesticides and pollution can create physiological by-products which are damaging to the cell. For example, free radicals [“ama visha”; reactive ama] and the accumulation of toxic metabolic by-products are known to be the cause of aging and disease and collectively may be referred to as “ama” from a cellular perspective.

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According to Ayurveda, Amalaki is considered one of the most nourishing and rejuvenating herbs. Amalaki is a strong natural antioxidant containing high levels of vitamin C and acts as a powerful immune strengthener. Amalaki is one of the best sources of natural vitamin C and contains 20 times more vitamin C than an orange.

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Amrit Kalash: Full-spectrum antioxidant:
Traditional ayurvedic formula of 13 herbs that supports the health of mind, brain, and nerves; increases vitality and inner strength; powerful antioxidant — research shows it to be up to 1,000 times more effective than vitamins C and E.

At The Level Of Mental Digestion
Similarly, unprocessed thoughts, feelings, and emotions can also become “mental ama” which may then crystallize and manifest as stress in various physiological expressions; i.e. depression, hypertension, etc.

Stress Free Emotions
For natural resistance to emotional stress and fatigue; promotes emotional balance, positive feelings, and feelings of fulfillment.

Worry Free
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Blissful Joy
To help uplift the emotions; helps balance emotional ups and downs; alleviates sadness and feelings of frustration.

 

Management Of Ama
According to Ayurveda, the management of “ama” first begins with identifying the cause. Often the treatment of “ama” is simply adjusting to a proper diet and lifestyle suitable to one’s needs. For example, “ama pachana” – which is the ‘burning off’ of ama and  can often be done by the use of certain spices and herbs – with supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic Professional.

Spice Selections To Improve Digestion
Ready-to-use spice mixtures satisfy the six ayurvedic tastes considered essential for balance.

“Prevention Is Better Than Cure.”
Although simple, these principles if followed routinely are often enough to help improve digestion and overall health. It’s often the simple things that are most effective and oddly enough – most overlooked. That said, let’s quickly take a look at the basics.

Avoid the following common causes of “ama” 
– overeating and consuming cold substances
–  irregular eating habits
– overconsumption of raw food
– eating heavy and fried food
– incompatible food combining
– eating with extreme emotions [i.e. anxiety, stress]
– sleeping before food is properly digested

Trikatu – The Digestive Herbal Formula:

Another great consideration is Trikatu – a formula combination of equal parts ginger, black pepper and pippali. The name trikatu means three peppers or the three pungents. It is a wonderful herb with strong digestive properties.

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.


Ten Health Tips For The Holidays

Ten Health Tips For The Holidays

Ama, the toxic waste-product of inefficient digestion, can accumulate at any time of the year. During the holidays, we’re particularly susceptible to it. The bounty of festive meals and lots of sweets tempts us to overeat and eat at irregular times, and these are all triggers for the build-up of ama. If left unchecked, our body can become clogged and our immune system weakened by the accumulation of ama. Do you experience lack of appetite, stiffness in the joints, occasional constipation, respiratory issues, allergen reactions, or weight gain? Ama is the most likely culprit. So, what is the ayurvedic tool for conquering ama? Agni — our digestive fire! If we keep our agni strong, our bodies will be able to digest the food we eat without creating toxic by-products, and we can “avert the danger yet to come.” What a relief!

How do we keep agni balanced and avert ama build-up? These simple tips are a great place to start:

  1. Eat Our Main Meal Midday

    Instead of a big late-afternoon meal or a heavy dinner, we should try to have our main meal between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m., when our digestive fire is the strongest — when the sun is highest in the sky. Eating a big dinner will not only tax the digestive system, but can disrupt sleep. To avoid the discomfort of feeling too full and not being able to sleep well, eat a light easy-to-digest dinner at least three hours before bedtime.

  2. Keep Regular Mealtimes

    Miss a meal? Skipping meals disrupts and weakens agni. However, eating three times a day around the same time of the day keeps digestion balanced. Eating a meal before the previous meal is completely digested also disrupts agni. Our bodies need at least three hours to finish digesting a meal before eating the next one. An afternoon snack is fine as long as it is small and light: a piece of fresh fruit, dried fruits or soaked nuts are great options for in-between meals! How do we know when our body is done digesting the previous meal? We experience hunger — listen to your body!

  3. Avoid Overeating

    This advice might be the hardest to follow, especially during those big holiday meals, but it is very important. Always eat according to hunger level. Our body knows how much food it can digest; we just have to listen. Take smaller portions, eat slowly and don't go for seconds if you are not hungry. When you eat slowly, your body will naturally tell you when you are full. Eat to only ¾ of your capacity. Even good food in excessive quantities can create ama.

  4. Find Herbal Aid

    If we happen to occasionally break one of the above rules, no worries! The holidays are a time to enjoy. We can use nature’s intelligence, ayurvedic herbs, to support agni. We can increase our appetite and gastric juices by occasionally drinking warm water, ginger water or cumin tea, or by eating a thin slice of fresh ginger with a pinch of salt before meals. Or for the sake of convenience, balance and promote digestion with one or two Herbal Di-Gest tablets before a meal.

  5. Avoid Agni-Destroying Foods

    Some people say certain foods taste better the next day, but ayurveda does not recommend eating leftovers — not even holiday ones. Eating freshly-prepared foods is preferred, because freshly-prepared food is easier to digest and contains more prana, or life energy! In addition to leftovers, avoid heavy, deep-fried foods and cold foods and drinks that diminish agni and contribute to the accumulation of ama. Think of throwing cold water on a fire. That is what we do when we have cold drinks just before, during, or after meals.

  6. Watch the Sweets

    This is another area where moderation can save us from dampened digestion and weight gain. If we have a sweet tooth, eating homemade pies and cookies instead of "junk" sweets is favorable. The latter usually contain preservatives, artificial flavors and colors which are toxic for the body and will turn into ama. They also lack nutrients and prana, and are heavy to digest. Commercial pastries and cakes also tend to contain more sugar and fat than our body needs.

  7. Take in All Six Tastes

    Sweet might be the taste of choice — but we know we can’t eat just sweets! Ayurveda identifies six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. For each of our meals we can strive to include all six of these tastes. This will tend to make us feel more satisfied and ultimately have fewer cravings. The vpk® by Maharishi Ayurveda Churnas are excellent spice mixes that include all the six tastes, and as an added bonus they also improve digestion.

  8. Balance Meals

    In addition to all the tastes, meals ideally include a balanced combination of carbohydrates, protein and fat. If we eat only carbohydrates, our blood sugar will rise quickly, but leave us feeling fatigued or lethargic later. Not all fats are bad. Why? Because healthy fats such as olive oil and ghee are essential for carrying the nutrients to our cells. Ayurvedically, varied foods and menus supply all the nutrients necessary for complete nourishment. According to ayurveda, when we eat properly we don’t need to supplement our diet with concentrates or extracts.

  9. Daily Exercise

    Regular exercise, at least half an hour a day, will not only help keep the extra pounds off, but will improve agni and reduce ama. A short walk after a meal, for example, is a great way to help digestion. Yoga asanas are the ideal way to balance mind and body and help digestion along the way. Read more about winter (Vata season) balancing asanas, here.

  10. Regular Routine

    Being regular is important not only for mealtimes, but for our daily routine as well. Our elimination, bedtime and working habits should all be ayurvedically appropriate in order to keep our immune system strong and our body ama-free. Enjoy holiday festivities, but try to maintain normalcy in daily habits as well!

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By vpk® by Maharishi Ayurveda Staff Writers


Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.