The colour, texture and moisture of your tongue can provide ‘tell-tale’ signs of what’s going on inside your body.
Many complementary therapies, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and naturopathy, use the tongue to aid diagnosis.
If a person is unwell, the problem can often be detected by simply looking at the tongue.’
According to Chinese herbalist Giovanni Masiocia, the tongue accurately reflects the state of your health.
‘In Chinese medicine it acts like a map where certain areas of the tongue correlate to specific organs of the body,’ he says.
Here’s how to spot what your tongue says about the state of your health
Smooth and pink tongue
This is how a healthy tongue looks like, pink and mostly smooth. The tiny bumps that typically make up the texture of your tongue are called papillae and are responsible for your sense of taste.
A tongue with this type of marking is called “lingua geographica”. Despite the dramatic name, it is actually a harmless pattern. The only complaints may be a heightened sensitivity to certain foods, types of toothpaste, or spices. This map-like tongue is passed down genetically and isn’t considered a disease by the medical field.
White lines on your tongue
The so-called “oral lichen planus” is one of the most common mouth diseases. It can cause extremely uncomfortable itching and hyper- sensitivity, but can also be symptom-free. It doesn’t really have a treatment, but it often goes away on its own if you avoid alcohol and tobacco.
A thick yellow layer on your tongue is usually a sign of fungal infection. These are most common in children and teens. It is also common within people wearing braces. Make sure you go to the dentist to see what possible solutions there could be if your tongue looks like this.
Sores or blisters on your tongue
Blisters can often mean that you’ve simply burned or bitten your tongue. Sometimes they are only short-lived ulcers. If they stay for more than two weeks, you should definitely have them checked, because they can be a sign of cancer.
This is often an indicator of poor oral hygiene and/or too much alcohol consumption. Typically, a good brushing, ‘a go’ with a tongue scraper and lots of water will take care of this problem.
These ‘valleys’ often come as you age and shouldn’t worry you. However, if your tongue simultaneously swells, you should go immediately to the doctor because it can be a sign of the Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome.
These indentations often appear on children’s tongues if they grow too quickly for their mouths. In adults, however, they can be a sign of hypothyroidism. Check with your doctor!
Red and fleshy
If your tongue is looking particularly red and ‘fleshy’ you should check whether you are getting enough vitamins. According to a study at the Cleveland clinic in Ohio, USA, this type of tongue can be an indication of a lack of vitamin B12 and folic acid. Both are available in most pharmacies.
Even though this looks deadly, this black coating has a good explanation. It is often the result of certain bacteria being triggered by poor oral hygiene. It can also appear in people with diabetes or after taking certain antibiotics. If you brush your teeth well and pay attention to maintaining a clean mouth, the symptoms should pass.
You can use these helpful tips to improve your digestion and the appearance of your tongue:
- Eat fermented foods and drink probiotic beverages to bring your inner ecosystem back into balance.
- Use the Principle of 80/20 at every meal.
- Warm up your digestion with cooked foods.
- Add herbs and spices to improve digestion.
- Drink warm ginger tea 20 minutes before a meal to benefit digestion and relieve nausea.
- Take digestive enzymes to increase mineral absorption.