The Tongue and Your Health

If you have never had acupuncture or herbal treatments, the intern or clinician always asks to see your tongue. I still have regular patients that I see in the main clinic in Lombard who think the practice of sticking out their tongue for five seconds is very silly and awkward, but it is a necessary diagnostic tool in Chinese medicine.

In fact, the tongue is one of the most important diagnostic areas in ancient medical traditions. Your tongue, containing water, electrolytes, mucus, and enzymes, is a very sensitive organ and its appearance changes with many physical changes in the body. In TCM, the tongue represents the organs in in our body, for example the tip of your tongue represents the Heart and Lung, the sides of the Liver and Gallbladder. 

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Have you are ever curious about what your tongue looks like? Wonder if you're coming down with a cold? Stick out your tongue and say "Ah!" Or at least give it a glance. Get in front of the mirror and look at your tongue right now. What does your tongue look like? Here is what you want to see: A normal tongue should be pink, muscular without tooth marking or discoloration, and have a very thin clear coating.

When I exam patients' tongues I am looking at the color of the tongue, texture, and if there is a coating on the tongue (usually white, yellow, black, or clear) or no coating. I look at the tip, both sides of the tongue and back of the tongue. In addition, I ask patients to show me the underneath of their tongue where sublingual veins are located.

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I always advise patients not to brush their tongue if they think they are coming into the clinic. The reason for this is because I need to see the tongue's true physical state. If you brush your tongue, it is physically altered, and this will affect the accuracy of the tongue diagnosis.

Your tongue is one of the easiest ways to check your health status.

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