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


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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.

Rasayana – Nature’s Greatest Antioxidant!!
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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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.

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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.

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.

The Ayurvedic Consultation


The Ayurvedic Consultation
Health is not simply the absence of disease, but is a state of balance that provides for wellbeing, clarity, and joy. Ayurveda - “The Science Of Life” is considered to be the longest continuously practiced system of traditional medicine and emphasizes on creating balance in all areas of life. Not only does Ayurveda examine the body but inquires further about daily diet, lifestyle, relationships, stress, and overall sense of well-being.

The initial consultation involves a thorough examination allowing the consultant to identify key symptoms and potential causes of imbalance and to eventually determine suitable food and lifestyle recommendations.

Observation [Darshan]:
An Ayurvedic practitioner is able to evaluate the state of health simply by looking at the patient and observing his/her movements, body contour, color of the skin and eyes, facial lines and ridges, shape of the nose, and various other features of the lips, hair, and nails.

Touch [Sparsha]:
The practitioner then employs touch, including palpation called sparshanam in Ayurveda, auscultation, which implies listening for sounds of the internal organs (shrvanaa), and percussion or tapping (akotana). There is also special attention on evaluating the patient's pulse, tongue, nails, and speech. Laboratory testing may also be included under this category.

Questions [Prashna]:
The practitioner will then ask the patient about presenting signs and symptoms, as well as the duration of discomfort as well as any other associations related to the disease progression. The practitioner will also inquire further into the overall lifestyle of the patient.

Great Video: The Ayurvedic Consultation

Taking the pulse is a way to determine one’s constitution and current state of real-time imbalances. The Ayurvedic consultant feels for the strength of vata, pitta, and kapha in the pulse. The practitioner looks for the overall qualities of the pulse.

- vata is felt under the index finger with dry, light, and cold qualities
- pitta in the middle finger with hot, sharp, and bounding qualities
- kapha under the ring finger with slow, soft, and steady qualities

When examining the tongue, the consultant looks at the color and shape of the tongue while checking the presence of scallops on the sides of the tongue, any excessive movement, the presence of coating and/or cracking of the tongue, etc.

Coating on the tongue often indicates the presence of “ama”, or poorly digested food, still present in the digestive system. The location [i.e. anterior 1/3, middle 1/3, posterior 1/3] and color of the coating on the tongue provides information on the type and location of ama within the digestive system; i.e. stomach, small intestine, colon.

Click Here: For Simple Tips To Improve Digestion
Click Here: Ayurvedic Remedies To Improve Digestion

Size, Shape, & Color
Generally, a thin, pointed tongue is more prevalent in vata dosha. Pitta often has more redness to the tongue and kapha generally has a large, round-tipped tongue. Scalloped edges on the sides of the tongue (teeth impressions) may indicate possible malabsorption or malnutrition.

Tongue Self-Assessment
First thing in the morning stick out your tongue and consider performing an Ayurvedic self-assessment. Question whether there is coating on the tongue and, if so - what color is the coating? Generally, white is an indication of kapha imbalance in the digestive system, yellow or green implies pitta imbalance, and brown being a vata imbalance. It‘s important to remove this coating every morning by gently scraping from the back to the front of the tongue, three to five times. By gently scraping the tongue this helps to stimulate the digestive system and help to remove digestive waste.

Although uncomfortable to discuss, discussing characteristics of stool and one’s bowel movements reveals important information about digestive health. Generally, we should eliminate every morning often upon waking or even within one hour of waking. Ideally, the bowel movement should have no strain nor discomfort and be the consistency of a banana.

- constipation likely indicates the dry qualities of vata.
- loose stools likely indicates the oily nature of pitta
- sticky and sludgy stools may indicate the heavy qualities of kapha.

Simple Recommendation
To help stimulate and cleanse the digestive system, begin the day by sipping warm water with lemon.
Click Here - To Learn The Benefits Of Sipping Hot Water & Preventing 'Metabolic Syndrome'

The color, volume, and frequency of urine can also indicate whether one is properly hydrated.

- scanty urine may reveal the presence of dry qualities of vata dosha
- hot and increased odor of urine may reveal the presence of pitta dosha
- cloudy urine may indicate excess kapha dosha
- pain or discomfort could indicate a more complicated concern

Ayurvedic management may include, but is not limited to: dietary changes, exercise program [i.e. yoga], lifestyle changes, herbs, and stress prevention [i.e. meditation]. The personalized strategy aims to help simplify, harmonize and energize one’s life in order to regain balance - in essence, reduce stress, balance weight, support moods, crave healthier foods, promote immunity, calm the mind, and enjoy more vitality.

This is strictly for educational purpose only. Always first discuss with your primary care physician before considering any new health regimen.