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What Your Tongue Says About Your Health

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tongueA healthy tongue should be pink and covered with small nodules (papillae). Any deviation from your tongue’s normal appearance, or any pain, may be cause for concern.

The colour, texture and moisture of your tongue can provide tell tale signs of what’s going on inside your body. The tongue is richly supplied with blood vessels, due to the constant flow of saliva, the tongue is constantly being cleaned which discourages harmful bacteria forming in the mouth area.

However, if a person is unwell, a problem can often be detected by simply looking at the tongue, the tongue accurately reflects the state of one’s health, the tongue acts like a map where certain areas of the tongue correlate to specific organs of the body. Using the tongue to diagnose health problems is not restricted to alternative circles, Orthodox doctors also use the tongue to detect a range of conditions.

When your doctor asks you to stick out your tongue, he could be looking for signs of anaemia, cyanosis – when not enough oxygen reaches the lungs or infections such as thrush, dehydration and kidney problems. The tongue of a healthy person is pinkish in colour, moves freely and is gently moist with a light coating.  If a tongue changes colour or texture, a naturopath may use tongue diagnosis to detect vitamin deficiencies, poor circulation, high cholesterol, allergies or digestive problems. Here are some things your tongue says about your health

A webbed or striped look: An appearance like this could signal a chronic condition called oral lichen planus, which occurs when the immune system attacks cells in the mouth. Middle-aged women are most commonly affected. If one is not experiencing pain, a doctor probably won’t treat it, but he will likely monitor one’s symptoms, because one might be at higher risk of developing oral cancer in those areas. If one is experiencing pain, one might be given a drug, such as a corticosteroid, a retinoid, or an immunosuppressant.

Bright red: The naturopath says a red inflammed tongue indicates lack of certain nutrients, especially iron and B vitamins. Iron, found in red meat, shell fish, nuts and apricots, is essential for the formation of red blood cells and necessary for energy and vitality. Vitamin B is needed for energy metabolism, cell growth and the proper functioning of the nervous system. Lean meat, shellfish, nuts and dried apricots are all rich sources of vitamin B. In Chinese medicine, a red tongue shows heat. The colour of the tongue may appear darker in different parts of the tongue relating to various organs in the body. For example, the root of the tongue could indicate excess heat in the intestines. Regulate heat with cooling foods such as cucumber, water melon and green tea.

White coating: A thin coating on the tongue is healthy and normal, a heavy white plaque however could indicate candidasis or oral thrush – a fungus infection of warm, moist areas of the body. This could be caused by an over-use of chemical mouthwash or taking too many antibiotics, oral thrush can impair taste buds and cause bad breath. To clean the tongue use a natural mouthwash twice a day. Mix cider vinegar with two cloves of garlic, one teaspoon of dried sage and one table spoon of honey poured into one pint of boiling water. Store in the fridge and use within three days. This reflects the state of the digestive system, if the tongue lacks coating, it means the stomach enzymes which break down food in the digestive system are not functioning properly. The coating of the tongue should be thin and white.

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Black and Hairy-Looking: This alarming-looking condition is actually benign, it is sometimes associated with antibiotic use, a yeast infection, diabetes, cancer therapies, or poor oral hygiene. It happens when the cells on the tongue grow faster than the body can shed them. But rest assured that this condition generally goes away on its own. The tongue isn’t actually hairy. It just looks hairy.

Ridges or Indentations: Does your tongue have scalloped edges all of a sudden? These ridges may simply be due to the way your teeth press into your tongue, which often happens while you sleep. Those types of ridges are no big deal and will go away on their own, one might also see ridges if one have a fissured tongue. Fissured tongue is a long crack down the middle of the tongue, and it’s just something one is born with one can also have radiating fissures going perpendicular to the long axis. It’s normal; the problem is that sometimes food can get stuck in the fissures if they’re deep enough, so don’t forget to brush your tongue when you brush your teeth and avoid sticky foods when possible.

Dry tongue: Dryness of the tongue is often caused by swelling of the salivary glands, the fleshy bulgy sacs under the tongue where saliva is produced. This is often caused by stress, regulate stress by relaxation routines such as breathing or yoga. Also, stimulate the flow of saliva and flush out the salivary ducts by drinking cider vinegar and lemon diluted in a glass of water, persistent dryness could be caused by Sjorgren’s syndrome – an immunological disorder. If your tongue is persistently dry seek medical advice. A dry furry tongue indicates excessive mucus in the body, this is caused by too much dairy and sugar in the blood. Eat a well-balanced diet and cut down on milk, butter and eggs.


Purple: This could mean one is suffering from high cholesterol which could result in heart problems, a purple tongue could also indicate chronic bronchitis which cuts down the efficiency of the airwaves in bringing oxygen to the bloodstream.This could indicate blood stagnation, poor circulation or too much sugar in the body which makes one feel tired and cold, it means one is probably eating too much cold food and not adding enough warm ingredients to one’s diet such as garlic, ginger and coriander.  If your tongue continues to be purple, seek medical attention.

Spots: Some people have a geographic tongue, which looks like a mixture of red and white spots and these people will likely have it for life. The spots might even seem to move, but it’s not anything to get concerned about. There’s no treatment for it, and it’s actually pretty common. Some medical research has shown an association between geographic tongue and celiac disease, a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the small intestine when it ingests gluten—a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

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