To examine your tongue, extend it comfortably. Observe the shape, color and moistness. Observe any cracks, trembling, ridges and scallops. Notice if the tongue has a coating, and if so, the color of the coating. These signs are code, which, when deciphered, reveals the story of your body’s internal health.
- A Vata tongue is small, thin, dry and possibly brownish in color. You may observe slight tremors and twitches.
- A Pitta tongue is broad and tapered at the tip. The tip is red and the margins are distinct and sharp. There may be yellow or reddish discoloration.
- A kapha tongue is round, moist, thick and large, often pale in color and may have a white coating.
The front of the tongue relates to the lungs, heart,chest and neck. Froth in this area may indicate low lung energy. The person may have a cold, bronchitis, asthma or respiratory allergy. If there is a small depression in the heart area, the person may have intense sadness, grief or depression. The central part of the tongue relates to the spleen, stomach, pancreas and liver. If there is a red patch in the liver and spleen area, there may be stagnant pitta in that organ. The back of the tongue relates to the lower abdominal organs, such as the intestines, colon and kidneys. If you get a reddish patch in the kidney area, there is excess pitta in the kidneys which can cause nephritis. If the posterior part of the tongue is covered with coating it indicates low colon energy.
Ideally a healthy tongue will be pink in color, look clean, and have no coating. If there is a coating, it may indicate the presence of ama. Ama is a by- product or sign of improper digestion. It results from undigested and unabsorbed food.
Most people have a slight coating at the back of the tongue which is a sign of toxins in the colon. These people may be quite healthy, its just ama that has built up in the stomach or small intestine and moved into the colon. If the entire tongue is coated, it is a sign of ama throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract.
If the tongue is white it indicates kapha-type ama and may indicate accumulation of mucous like qualities; yellowish green ama is pitta type and may indicate some heat in the body; and brownish-black is vata type ama, which may indicate dryness in the body.
Whatever happens along the spine is expressed along the midline of the tongue. The part of the line near the tip of the tongue indicates the neck, the middle the mid thorax and the back of the tongue is the lower back. A straight line along the middle for example indicates stress along the spine. If the line is deeply furrowed it may indicate the person is holding emotions making the back stiff.
One of the best ways to keep the tongue healthy is by daily tongue scraping. This removes overnight buildup of bacteria and toxins on the tongue.
To do this, extend the tongue and place the scraper as far back on the tongue as is comfortable. Gently scrape from the back or base of the tongue using one long stroke, until you have scraped the whole surface. Rinse the scraper and begin again. Do this until the tongue feels clean and is free of coating. Ayurveda says that scraping the tongue should only be done in the morning on an empty stomach. In addition to removing bacteria from the tongue, scraping sends an indirect message to all the internal organs and stimulates gastric fire and digestive enzymes and keeps the breath fresh.