Our tongue speaks volumes – without you saying a word! Did you know that the condition of your tongue is a powerful indication of your overall health and wellbeing? In traditional Chinese medicine and natropathy, the tongue is often used to assist with diagnosis. The colour, texture and coating of your tongue can all provide you with valuable clues about your health. Here are a few common signs to watch out for – what is your tongue trying to tell you?
Your tongue tongue will be bright pink or pale red in colour when you are healthy. Other hues point to underlying health concerns:
White or very pale pink: A paler tongue might signify circulatory problems like anaemia, which reduce the red cells and oxygen in your blood. It could also point to weakened adrenal gland functioning; this is often accompanied by a feeling of fatigue. Weak digestion, bad circulation and low thyroid function are all possible causes of a pale tongue.
Significantly redder than usual: A bright red tongue is often a sign of excess acid in the body, which can lead to complaints such as gout and kidney stones. Dehydration, inflammatory conditions and infections will all cause your tongue to appear redder than normal.
Red tip: If your tongue is pink with a brighter red tip, it may be a sign of thyroid or cardiac problems. Red sides might indicate liver and gallbladder problems. An unusually bright red centre suggests stomach problems.
Purple: Points to blood stagnation, high cholesterol or heart problems.
A healthy tongue will appear relatively smooth and moist. Changes in the surface texture are clues to imbalances or ailments.
Dry surface: A big indicator of dehydration; also points to poor kidney function.
Cracked surface: Often caused by an unhealthy diet and general vitamin deficiency.
Raised red spots: May be a sign of vitamin C deficiency. Typically this is accompanied by bleeding or tender gums.
When you’re in good health, your tongue should have a thin, clear or slightly white “moss” covering the upper surface. A thick, blotchy or coloured coating on your tongue indicates that something is amiss.
Thick white coating: You’ll often notice this when you have ‘flu or a cold. The thick opaque coating is a sign that toxins are exiting your system; you may also notice a thick white coating when you’re going through a detox.
Yellow coating: This typically points to a problem with the stomach, liver or gallbladder.
Grey coating: Candida and other fungal infections produce hydrogen sulfide, which can give the tongue a grey-coated appearance.
Patchy coating: This is often a bacterial response to stomach problems. It’s also a possible sign of an autoimmune condition, such as allergies.
Tips for a Healthier Tongue
Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet and a focus on preventing toxic accumulation all play a role in keeping your tongue (and the rest of your system) healthy.
Avoid processed sugars: Sugar isn’t just bad for your teeth, but for your tongue too. Processed sugars make the digestion sluggish, and encourage the overgrowth of bad intestinal flora. By eliminating sugar, you will improve your overall digestion, and this will reflect in the appearance of a healthy pink tongue.
Minimise mucous: Avoid mucous-forming foods like cream, margarine, ice cream and deep-fried snacks. These foods promote excess phlegm production, triggering allergies, sensitivities and infections. Too many mucous-forming foods will leave you with a coated tongue and bad breath, as well as a headache or general aches and pains.
Drink less alcohol: That horrible dry-mouthed feeling you get when you’re hungover is more than a mere annoyance; it’s a sign of excess alcohol compromising your liver function. Bad breath and a coated tongue are sure signs of excessive alcohol consumption.
Love your liver: A natural liver tonic will work wonders for your overall health, by eliminating toxins and promoting healthy bile production; this healthy balance will reflect in your oral health too.
Drink your veggies: Raw vegetable juices help to detoxify your liver and gut. Try juicing fresh kale, spinach and lettuce, celery, carrots and cucumbers, for a powerful boost to your overall wellbeing.
Keeping your tongue clean: Just like your teeth and gums, your tongue requires regular, gentle but thorough cleaning to stay healthy. Using our super-popular Ayurvedic tongue cleaner to scrape your tongue clean will help to prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria in your mouth.
Try oil pulling: The Ayurvedic oil pulling practice helps to draw out toxins from your mouth, leaving your breath fresh and your tongue, teeth and gums clean and healthy.
Use a natural mouth rinse: Instead of those chemical-laden mouth washes, simply rinse with a saline (saltwater) solution after brushing; saltwater has great antibacterial properties, and will help to prevent infections. Alternatively you can also try our natural sage mouth wash.