by Dan Schalm R.Ac, R.TCMP
Unlike the check-up with your family doctor, an acupuncturist or TCM practitioner will take a very special interest in the geography of your tongue, so be prepared share. Since ancient times, the tongue was thought to be a key indicator of what is going on deep within the body to physicians of Oriental medicine. Because of the unshakeable reliability of this type of diagnosis, modern TCM practitioners still consider tongue diagnosis as the cornerstone of a consultation.
You might ask yourself, “What on earth could the aesthetics of my tongue have to do with what goes on inside my body?” The answer is, “LOTS!”
Studies are beginning to corroborate with the ancient idea that pathology as well as health can show itself on the tongue. And not just in a general sense … many specific conditions can be uniquely identified. So, what does your tongue tell me?
The first thing I am checking is the colour of the tongue body, a very important way to see if you are operating efficiently. A pale tongue indicates that your reserves are low, the areas of the tongue that are pale give me an indication of which organs need attention. For instance, Liver disharmony is often reflected on the sides of the tongue, stomach problems may show up in the centre. A red or purple tongue gives me important information about whether there is energy or blood stagnation. Also, whether or not it is dry or overly wet helps me determine certain pathological conditions of the water metabolism.
Secondly, I want to note the shape of your tongue. Is it swollen or thin or are certain parts enlarged? Did you know that tooth-prints along the front edges of the tongue body can indicate problems with the digestive system? How about cracks? … sometimes cracks on the tongue can give me a good indication of the state of your Stomach, heart and kidneys.
Finally, I will have a good look at the coat. Some coats are healthy, while others indicate the presence of pathogenic factors in the body. The colour, texture, thickness and location of the coat are all important factors in determining the type of pathogen. Even no coat at all is an important clinical sign. Often, a thick greasy coat at the back of the tongue can indicate problems with the large intestine or show a bladder infection.
Of course this information is interpreted within the context of other signs and symptoms. Once the diagnosis is made, treatment can be designed and initiated using acupuncture or herbal medicine. But in objective analysis, the tongue almost always shows the true condition of the body. So, what does your tongue say?
Posted on 1 June 2009 | 11:55 pm