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A Tell Tale Tongue

What does your tongue say about you? In Chinese Medicine, the tongue tells a large part of the story of your health. It's amazing how varied tongues are once you start looking at them!

There are lots of parts to the tongue that we look, here are just some:

  • The colour of the tongue body

  • The thickness, colour and quality of the tongue coat

  • The size, thickness and shape of the tongue

  • Marks such as cracks, folds, teethmarks and 'strawberries'/little red dots.

  • Movement of the tongue - quivering.

  • Protrusion of the tongue - when it's poked out is it flabby, or forced out strongly, is it shy and hardly pointed out at all, or is it deviated to the side of the mouth.

It really is quite a mouthful! (Sorry, couldn't help my self.)

Different areas of the tongue also represent different organs and body areas as shown below:

(Antonio Guillem/shutterstock; The Epoch Times/photo illustration)

(1) (Antonio Guillem/shutterstock; The Epoch Times/photo illustration)

Here is a chart of a few different types of tongues:

Looking at the tongue to give clues about ones health is a simple concept that makes sense.

If you feel hot, have night sweats and dry skin/hair, it would make sense that the tongue would look red (hot), and be dry with cracks like the skin.

If you have put on a little extra weight and feel cold and sluggish with fluid retention, it also makes sense that the tongue would be a little swollen, with some coat (dampness/fat in the body), and that it might be pale with not enough warmth in the body.

A simple concept, but it can get quite complicated, particularly if there are many different marks, colours and coat types on one tongue!

So go have a look in the mirror - what is your tongue telling you?


1. Milner. C. (2016) The Tongue Is a Map of the Body in Chinese Medicine. The Epoch Times.

Note: These images do not belong to Community Acupuncture Oamaru

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