Say AHHHH! In traditional Chinese medicine, the tongue, like the face, is one of the body parts used to help diagnose underlying imbalances in the body. Angela Warburton, a traditional Chinese medicine expert, explains what your tongue’s colour, shape and coating might be telling you about your health.
A healthy balanced tongue will be pinky red in colour, have smooth edges and a smooth body and a thin white coat that you can actually see the tongue body through.
Pale and Teeth Marks
You might notice when you’re feeling really bloated or tired after you eat that the sides of your tongue are swollen or have teeth marks — this means that your digestive system is weaker and overworking. By making simple changes like cooking your foods or avoiding cold frozen foods like smoothies or ice in your drinks, you’ll find your digestion improves.
If your tongue is really red in colour, it tends to mean there is too much heat in your body. You’ll want to avoid things that are going to add more heat like spicy foods. If the sides of your tongue are red, it might show up when you’re really stressed or irritable or suffer from things like PMS. When you’re having trouble sleeping or suffer from anxiety, the tip might get red. Making simple changes like turning off electronic devices or overly stimulating music can be extremely helpful, as can regular meditation.
If your tongue has a purplish colour, it means that things aren’t circulating as well as they could: this could be on specific points on the tongue, like the sides, or across the whole thing. This can show up in people who have migraines or pain, or women who get really bad PMS or cramps. Sometimes simple things like exercise can help but often you want to work with a professional to help with this.
Cracking in the tongue can be a sign of depleted moisture levels and too much heat in the body, and can be common in women going through menopause (yin deficiency). Avoiding foods that are drying and heating like coffee and alcohol can be of big help and it’s important to have lots of downtime or rest with this pattern.
When the tongue is puffy or has a really thick coat, this is a sign of too much moisture in the body. This person might feel really tired after they eat, have a chronically stuffy nose, swellings in the body or looser bowels. Avoiding foods that are mucus-forming or moistening like diary, bananas or sugary foods can be helpful.