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
Supports improved digestion and balanced appetite; helps with gas, bloating, and discomfort.
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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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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Calms the mind and emotions; supports clarity of mind and deeper sleep; natural support for everyday stress and tension.
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.
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“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.