When you visit an Acupuncturist they will most often want to take a look at your tongue. Say ahhh! If you are not familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine you might find this strange – however in the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine the tongue provides important information in diagnosis, developing a treatment plan and to be able to review the ongoing process of a patient.
Here are a few of the important things that an Acupuncturist looks at when they ask to take a look at your tongue.
What is the Shape or Size of the person’s tongue
Tongues can be as different as the people themselves. Tongues present in a variety of shapes – they might appear to be swollen, appear to be stiff, or a whole variety of other possibilities. A red swollen tongue is correlated with Heart and Spleen heat. A limp, pale tongue is typically a sign of qi and blood deficiencies. The shape and size of the tongue are often an indication of fluid balance, the state of blood, excesses, and various deficiencies. The movement of the tongue is also considered – does the tongue appear to move easily or not.
What is the Coating of the tongue
Is the coating of the tongue thick or thin? A thin coat can indicate that a condition is mild. A thick coating can be a sign that the patient’s condition is more serious. If there is no coating or a peeling coating, it can mean heat, or that Stomach qi and yin, Kidney yin, or other areas are deficient or damaged.
The coating’s color is something that is also noted. As a couple examples, a yellow coating is a sign of heat, while a gray tongue coating reveals internal heat or damp-cold patterns. The quality of coating is also important. A dry tongue means deficient fluids and a wet tongue is tied to dampness and poor fluid metabolism.
NOTE – Don’t scrape your tongue for approximately 24 hours before your Acupuncture appointment. The tongue tends to harbor microbes and food particles, so wait until after your Acupuncture appointment to scrape your tongue. Usually a dentist tells their patients that brushing or scraping the tongue is an excellent way to get rid of bad breath and maintain oral health. Scraping is also used by some for detoxification purposes. But for your Acupuncturist, the coating on your tongue can be important and helpful in making a diagnosis, so if you are accustomed to scraping wait until after your appointment to scrape.
What does the Color of your tongue mean
If a person’s tongue is purple or bluish it can indicate to an Acupuncturist there is stagnation. The exact hue and coating can reveal where the imbalance is occurring. A pale tongue means there is a deficiency, such as deficient qi, blood, or yang. These issues can cause cold in the body.
A healthy tongue tends to be light red or pink with a thin coating. However, the color of the tongue varies by person. In general, a dark red tongue is a sign that there is excess heat in the body. The darker red is an indicator that there is more heat present.
In addition to the color of the body of the tongue, there can also be variations of color on different parts of the tongue. As an example, the tip of the tongue is correlated with the Heart and a dark red tip is a sign that there is excessive heat in the Heart. The color of the back of the tongue helps to clue an Acupuncturist into the health of the Kidney.
Only a few examples of how the tongue is utilized
These are only a few of the examples of why an Acupuncturist will ask to look at your tongue when you go for an appointment.
It takes a highly trained licensed practitioner to understand all of the various nuances. Additional factors, such as food and beverages, age, season of the year, and even the time of day can play a role and influence a person’s tongue appearance.