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Say "AHHH" Why Acupuncturists Look At Your Tongue

Have you ever wondered why an acupuncturist wanted to look at your tongue?  

In Chinese Medicine, it is believed that the appearance of your tongue is a reflection of your health and can be a powerful diagnostic tool.  

What are we looking for?

  • Tongue Body Color: A "normal" tongue is said to be a medium shade of pink. A pale tongue can indicate a deficiency of blood, while a dark red tongue can indicate heat in the body. Purple tinged tongues typically indicate stagnation of energy and blood.
  • Tongue Shape: The most common shape changes can include "scalloped" tongue- or teethmarks in the sides of the tongue. This is usually an indicator of qi deficiency and/or fluid retention. We will also note any dips or depressions in the tongue and where they are located.  
  • Tongue Coating: A thin and moist coating on the tongue is considered normal and healthy. An excess of coating can indicated excess dampness or fluids in your system. An absence of coating and a dry tongue usually indicates heat in the body.  
  • Cracks in the Tongue Body: Cracks in the tongue body are usually an indication of yin deficiency and deficient heat in the body. Cracking can also be congenital- typically seen in people with food allergies and/or asthma. 

  • Areas of the Tongue represent different organ systems in TCM theory. The tip of the tongue is the area of the heart. Behind the heart position is the lung. Middle of the tongue is spleen and stomach, followed by the intestines, and finally the "root" of the tongue is representative of the kidney and bladder. The sides of the tongue are the domain of the liver and gallbladder. For example a red tip of the tongue indicates heat in the heart (seen in insomnia and anxiety conditions). Discoloration or "rolled" edges of the tongue can indicate and issue with the liver or gallbladder. A puffy tongue with excess coating in the middle of the tongue usually corresponds with a client with spleen deficiency and dampness (chronic digestive problems, weight gain, edema, food allergies).

So as you can see, the tongue can tell us a lot about the state of your health. I look forward to seeing you, and your tongue, soon!