In Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India, the tongue is considered the emissary of the digestive tract. I like thinking of it like that, a representative or spokesperson, non-opinionated simply reporting what is.
The tongue reports the facts to us about what we’re eating through our tastes but it also reports facts to us about how we’re digesting what we’ve eating and if the organs are functioning properly.
This last form of reporting takes a little bit of translating, but once you get the hang of it, it’s one of the coolest and most informative daily practices from the Ayurvedic tradition.
It’s called Ayurvedic Tongue Diagnosis, and while Ayurvedic doctors can read a great deal into how the tongue looks, any person can get a useful daily read on their health simply by learning the basics. This should become a regular tool for any yogi.
The tongue reports on our state of digestion and health through it’s appearance.
The digestive tract and organs are mapped out on the tongue and so it tells a tale of health or imbalance in any of these areas through colour, texture, coating, moisture, shape, smell and more (see info-graphic and charts below).
Ayurveda recognises that anything we don’t digest accumulates in our body and then becomes toxic. This accumulation is called Ama, and when we sleep at night the body works to eliminate ama, particularly through the membrane system of our body.
We see this as goop in our eyes or mucus in our nose or stool. The tongue is also a membrane and the white coating that appears on it each morning is considered ama, or toxicity, that the body is processing and pushing out.
As Dr. Bruce Fife, author of The Detox Book put it, “Your tongue can reveal how much toxic material is stored in your cells and vital organs. The tongue is a mirror of the membrane system of your body.”
Paying attention to the quality of this ama appearing on our tongue can reveal a great deal and help us make day to day choices that direct us back into balance.
Research Your Tongue Every Morning!
A great practice to get in the habit of is sticking your tongue out first thing in the morning and checking out how it looks. Do this before you drink water or brush your teeth to get the best reading of what your body was processing through sleep.
Then compare what you’re seeing in the mirror with the Tongue Diagnosis Charts (see below).
Things to think about when checking our your tongue:
- What colour is it?
- Is the coating evenly distributed across your tongue or accumulated in particular areas?
- Does it smell?
- Is it dry or moist? Frothy?
- What do the edges look like? Smooth or scalloped?
- Are there red bumps or patches? Where?
- Are there cracks? Where?
Compare this information to the charts and graphs and start taking action to bring yourself back into balance based on what you see.
Spend a week drawing your tongue, what you observe and how it changes. I love this practice not only to help me monitor my body but also because sticking out my tongue in the morning makes me laugh to myself.
After you’ve listened to what the tongue is telling you about your health, scrap that toxic ama off it with a metal tongue scrapper rather than swallowing it back into the system. Lightly scrap from back to front 5-7 times. Notice the color of the ama on the tongue scrapper.
Tongue scrapping is a simple Ayurvedic oral hygiene practice done every morning before drinking water.
Doing this on a regular basis will also heighten our sense of taste and increase the intelligence of our tongue. The more intelligent our tongue, the healthier food we eat and the better we feel.
Tell us what you’ve discovered through checking out your tongue this week!?