Your Tongue Can Speak To You

Your Tongue Can Speak To You post image


At this point, after all the powerful lectures at the Healthy Mouth Summit last week, we know that health is reflected in the mouth. Housed in the mouth, the tongue is the most visible part of the internal body and can provide you with information about your general state of health. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses tongue diagnosis (and pulse diagnosis) to show the depth and nature of an imbalance and is the basis for a treatment plan. It is an important part of the evaluation process for a practitioner of Chinese medicine to look in the mouth.

According to Dr. Victor Zeines (a speaker at the Summit)– 80% of the US population has periodontal disease. That is extremely problematic, as periodontal disease increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, as well as cancer — particularly colon cancer. Periodontal disease and decay is the first stage of nutritional deficiencies. These diseases are all related to chronic inflammation which starts in the gut.

The Mouth is the Portal to the Gut

Dr. Price was concerned when he started to see the children in his practice come in with a lot of dental decay. In the 1930’s when he practiced, the decay rate in the US was 20 – 30%. Today it is 92%. The native peoples he studied who were eating their traditional diets had a decay rate of about 5% and some had less than that. Additionally, they enjoyed radiant good health.

The US children had dental decay and they also had other medical conditions that were not found in cultures who were eating their traditional foods.

Dr. Price concluded that the modern diet was causing physical degeneration and he thoroughly documented this in his famous book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

The Tongue Never Lies

The Epithelial layer in the mouth is replaced every 2 – 3 days and malnutrition and unhealthy conditions will be reflected. There are certain appearances of the tongue that indicate general conditions.

  • Enlarged, pale or flabby tongue — bronchitis, colitis
  • Tip of tongue red –weakened enlarged heart, lung problems or thyroid
  • Grey or greyish brown — intestinal problems
  • Yellow or yellow green — gall bladder or liver problems
  • Scalloped edges — sleep apnea or mineral deficiency
  • Cracked tongue – vitamins deficiency
  • Thicker the coating the more chronic the problems

Diagnostic Tongue

The healthy tongue is pink in color, has medium thickness, no cracks, ulcers, no teeth marks and with a light white moist coat (with root) on it. It looks alive and well.

A practitioner using tongue diagnosis would also take into account the appearance of the tongue in specific areas:

  • Tip of the tongue corresponds to the lung and heart
  • Base of the tongue corresponds to the kidney, urinary bladder, large intestine and small intestine meridians
  • The sides of the tongue correspond to the liver and gall bladder meridians. Some theories place the gall bladder on the patients left side and the liver on the patients right side
  • The middle of the tongue corresponds to the stomach and spleen meridians

To use the tongue as a diagnostic tool you can take a look at it first thing in the morning. The color should be pink and healthy looking — shiny not dull. Look at the tip — is it too red? There is a coating on the tongue — is it a color and is it thick or thin? There are many other aspects of tongue diagnosis that can indicate certain conditions.

What Goes on in The Mouth Does Not Stay in the Mouth

Acupuncture meridians go through the teeth and make the body aware of any problem in the mouth. There is a constant crossroads of communication in the body through the meridians and/or reflex pathways. This is why it is so important to clean up the mouth and the gut.

There is no such thing as an isolated problem in a certain tissue or organ — this western style of thinking is myopic. We have so many specialists in western medicine — but no one is looking at the whole person.

A dentist is in the perfect position to advise people about their health — if they were trained in TCM and tongue diagnosis things would be more clear to them.

Oral PH

Oral pH, or saliva pH testing is another diagnostic tool that can be used at home. It will tell if the body is too alkaline or too acidic — most of the time it is too acidic. You can purchase pH paper at a drug store and compare the colors first thing in the morning. Saliva should be 6.4- 6.8. The pH testing of the saliva can also be used to monitor progress through any program such as a detox program or the GAPS diet.


Here again, the acid/alkaline balance is very important for good health. Eating a diet that is more alkalizing such as a grain-free, sugar-free diet with plenty of good animal fats from pasture raised animals is always a good thing.

Fermented foods and especially — you know am going to say — kombucha — is also alkalizing and helpful to digestion as discussed in a previous post.

Join the Kombucha Challenge Here!

Where to Buy Organic Kombucha and Kombucha Making Supplies

Giveaway: Cultures for Health Kombucha Starter Kit!

HealThy Mouth World Summit upgrade package

This post is shared at: Creative Juice Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back Friday, Small Footprint Friday, Barnyard Hop, Meatless Monday, Hearth & Soul Hop, Real Food Wednesday, Mommy Club, Seasonal Celebration, Two Girls and a Party

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Leave a Comment

  • JCleary January 24, 2013, 8:49 am

    Thank you for your consistent diligence in presenting information for good health for the whole body!

  • Linda January 24, 2013, 9:52 am

    I think that is fascinating about the tongue. When I heard about that I wanted to tell everyone I know to stick out their tongues! (lol)

  • tammie January 24, 2013, 10:59 am

    my tongue has been burning for about a year now. it started after a dental procedure around november of 2012. the dentist sent me to an oral surgeon because he had diagnosed me with burning mouth syndrome. the oral surgeon prescribed a nerve medication that i tried for 2 months, it did not help. the dentist then sent me to an orthodontist thinking it could be tmj. the orth. made a splint for me to wear for 2 weeks trial basis, it did not help. i spoke to a neurologist, he said that he could do an mri on me but he did not have any idea why the tongue burns like that. my tongue feels like it has been burned by a hot cup of coffee and i would really like for it to stop. thanks for any help that you might could give me.

    • Jill January 24, 2013, 11:34 am

      Hi Tammie,
      I would find out what materials the dentist used in your mouth for that procedure for starters. Was something toxic put into your mouth?

  • Yolanda January 24, 2013, 11:31 am

    Of course, I immediately went to the mirror and stuck my tongue out. I think it looks pretty good. That made me happy! Interesting post. Thank you.

  • Brittany Ardito January 24, 2013, 1:10 pm

    Very interesting article. Thank you.

  • Jocelyn January 25, 2013, 6:05 pm

    I came across this article on Fight Back Friday :-). This is fascinating! I think my tongue looks ok based on your descriptions, except it’s slightly scalloped on the edges. I’ve suspected I have a mineral deficiency of sorts for a few weeks now. Now I have a little more to go on when I speak to my practitioner. Thank you!!

  • Jamil @ High Brix Nutrient Dense Foods January 28, 2013, 10:03 pm

    I have had good success in using tongue diagnosis to improve my health. I have used both TCM and Ayurvedic tongue diagnosis. I had issues with coating. Using my collection of TCM books I diagnosed a pattern of dampness and spleen qi deficiency, which my TCM practitioner confirmed. I had poor success with herbal formulas that eliminate dampness and tonify the spleen qi. I had no lasting results with acupuncture. The TCM dampness removing diet gave me some results but not enough to address my digestive problems of poor appetite, bloating after meals, and frequent gas.. These formulas made me very thirsty. I then tried Ayurvedic approach of taking herbs for my digestion imbalance of Vata and Kapha and had excellent success. I also used some western digestive bitters such as dandelion, artichoke, etc. years back with modest success.

    TCM describes a tongue with tooth marks on the edges as spleen qi deficiency. I have taken several formulas over the last two years that tonify the spleen qi and my symptoms are gone but the tooth marks remain. My digestion has never been better. I have had very good results taking formulas that tonify kidney yang and in part spleen chi. What does this mean? You mention mineral deficiency is related to scalloped tongue – which mineral(s)?

    In Reams Biological Theory of Ionization (RBTI) as applied to human nutrition, it is observed that poor liver function is behind a heavily coated tongue.

  • Alison January 30, 2013, 6:04 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote an article on the tongue and its relation to ones health. It’s a really simple way of checking in on your own health, as well as your children. What kid doesn’t love to stick their tongue out at you?!

  • April @ The 21st Century Housewife January 31, 2013, 7:35 am

    I had read before about the tongue being used as a diagnosis tool, but I had not read this level of detail before. I found it fascinating! Thank you for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  • Sharon January 31, 2013, 3:37 pm

    Not a fan of the “animal” fat part of the diet as I am plant based, but thank you for the information otherwise.

  • Crystal & Co. February 3, 2013, 2:58 pm

    Wow, great resource. Our mouth in general says a lot about our health. Great tool you’ve shared here!

  • Andrea February 4, 2013, 4:24 pm

    This concerns me. I heard this talk online too, and I was shocked to see how many deep grooves I have in my tongue even though I am on a sugar free, grain free diet, eat raw eggs, milk, and liver, lots of fruit and veggies, bone broth, , etc. Obviously something is not clicking internally. I would love to get pregnant this summer. I am just not sure where to start rebuilding myself.

    • Jill February 4, 2013, 8:47 pm

      Hi Andrea,
      Changes to the tongue can take some time.

  • Amy February 6, 2013, 5:12 pm

    I use a tongue scraper daily and am pretty disgusted by what comes off. But better down the drain then down my throat! Here’s to a clean tongue! Thanks for the information!

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