Tongue Diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine

JENNIFER SUN - JANUARY 22, 2021

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tongue Diagnosis is considered to be one of the most important tools used by acupuncturists to understand your constitution, AKA your body’s yin-yang balance. Based on the ancient classic approach to understanding the body and it’s interconnected meridian channels, all the major organs pass through the tongue. As such, it is said that the pattern of your tongue can suggest some patterns of imbalance.

Examples of this? If you’re over mental activity, there will definitely be an extra red area at the tip. If you’re feeling sluggish in digestion? There may be some dampness, aka extra coating in the middle of your tongue. It’s a fascinating practice, and when combined with other lifestyle and health questions, this approach can be used by acupuncturists to provide personalized health recommendations.

Why a Tongue Diagnosis? 

In order to get a better understanding of what’s going on internally, we look for patterns on the tongue. Your tongue is divided into 3 parts – the top, middle, and back part. Each part represents the top, middle, and lower part of our thoracic cavity. So the top of the tongue will reflect our heart, the middle will focus on the spleen and digestion as well as the liver, and the lower back will feature the kidney. 

What are the patterns? 

To understand the tongue, we will look for patterns in the three following ways  (1) Color, (2) Shape, (3) Coating

  1. Color: You might think your tongue is only red or pink, or some kind of fleshy color. But in fact the range between pink to scarlet red to maroon tells your TCM physician what’s the state of your body. 
  2. Shape: Tongues come in all shapes and sizes! There are long and skinny tongues, short and stumpy ones, or even wide and flabby tongues. All of these shapes and sizes are unique to you and tell a story about your body. 
  3. Coating: Contrary to the trends, TCM medicine recommends that you do not tongue scrape! This texture, density, color are all-telling. We look for signs of color imbalance in your tongue coating to understand what is your yin-yang balance. 

While your tongue pattern may differ from different times throughout the day, this difference is only marginal because the underlying pattern of your body will be there. We recommend incorporating a monthly self-care check to look at your tongue-diagnosis seasonally.

 

How to prepare for a Tongue diagnosis and what to know before you go:

Prior to your Tongue diagnosis, you’ll want to avoid a few different things. As mentioned above, tongue scraping is not advised. Avoid this to get your most accurate diagnosis. You’ll also want to be sure not to drink coffee or tea, and not to eat any foods 1 hour before your diagnosis.

 

Taking a selfie?
If you’re getting your Tongue diagnosis virtually, you’ll want to use natural lighting. When it comes time to snap your selfie, don’t stick your tongue out for more than 15 seconds. This helps to prevent pumping blood to the tongue (which will affect its color!). With a natural “ahhhh”, keep your tongue out for about 5-10 seconds, max. And that’s it! 

Tongue challenge? 

Take 7 days of tongue selfies so we can see if there’s a pattern!

Want more?

Send us a picture of your tongue for a personalized diagnosis! Send us a DM through Instagram – @oraspace

One of our licensed acupuncturists will reply.