Sunday, February 27, 2011

What Your Tongue Says About You

Tongue diagnosis is an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
(Photo © istockphoto/sdominick)

I started an Introduction to Oriental Medicine class at Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley a couple months ago, and it has led to an ongoing obsession with tongues.

Tongue diagnosis is one of the primary methods of examination in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Your tongue tells all—what you’ve been eating, how you’ve been feeling emotionally, and how well your organs and other bodily functions are doing. If you’re in tip-top shape, your tongue will be smooth, moist, bright, pink, and firm.  It will fit comfortably in your mouth and will have a thin white coating on top that’s sheer enough to let the pink peek through. However, if you’re not doing so well, it will also show on your tongue.  For instance, if you have a cold or flu, your tongue may be red at the tip with a thicker yellow or white coat on top. Or if you’re really stressed, your tongue may start to tremble when you stick it out.

While I could go on and on about my fascination with tongues, instead, I urge you to take a look at yours. What color is it? Are there any cracks or spots? (Cracks and spots are not normal, by the way.) What does the coating look like? Does your tongue look different at different times of the day? Does it look different when you’re feeling overworked versus when you’re feeling relaxed? (This chart is a good cheat sheet.) 

Ultimately, the path to well-being involves being able to recognize when you're not doing so well. Your tongue is a great place to start.   


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