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MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information
TONGUE DIAGNOSIS
Diagnostic Techniques


For "Informational Use Only".
For more detailed information, contact your health care provider
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  • Tongue Diagnosis Description
  • Western Tongue Diagnosis
  • Chinese Tongue Diagnosis
  • Ayurvedic Tongue Diagnosis
  • Conventional Medical Opinion




  • TONGUE DIAGNOSIS DESCRIPTION

    "Let me see your tongue" is a common request by health care practitioners all over the world. The condition of the tongue is believed by all medical traditions to reflect an individual's state of health, although to an infinitely greater degree in the East. Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda closely observe the surface of the tongue to assess the balance of "life energy" forces in the body and the health of internal organs. Conventional practitioners are also likely to examine the tongue, and may reach conclusions similar to those of their complementary counterparts, but will diagnose specific medical conditions only.

    The tongue shown in traditional diagnostic chart from Nepal.
    The tongue shown in traditional diagnostic chart from Nepal.





    WESTERN TONGUE DIAGNOSIS

    Western practitioner examines tongue
    A health practitioner or Western complementary therapist assesses the patient's tongue for clues to help diagnose many conditions, including constipation and iron deficiency.


    In conventional medicine, practitioners regularly examine their patients' tongues, and certain tongue conditions are associated with poor health. An inflamed tongue, for example, is a sign of severe iron deficiency. Dehydration may also be diagnosed from the appearance of the tongue, while some nervous disorders affect its movements.

    In complementary medicine, the tongue may similarly be examined as an aid to diagnosis. Nutritional therapists claim to detect certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies in the appearance of the tongue. A smooth, sore tongue may be due to a lack of Vitamin B-12, Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), or Iron. In some cases, it is also connected with a yeast or fungal infection. Enlarged, sore taste buds at the tip of the tongue are said to indicate a lack of Vitamin B-2 or Vitamin B-6, and bruising or enlargement of the veins under the tongue may be due to a deficiency of Vitamin C.

    The appearance of the tongue is also associated with certain conditions in homeopathy. A red tip on the tongue, particularly if dry and cracked, is one of the key symptoms considered when prescribing Rhus tox, used for rheumatism and skin conditions. A patient with chronic phlegm and a red tongue with a thick coating is likely to be given Antim tart.





    CHINESE TONGUE DIAGNOSIS

    TCM practitioner examining tongue
    In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the practitioner observes the surface of the patient's tongue, noting its color, size, and coating, and which areas are moist and dry.


    According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the tongue is linked to all the organs in the body via meridians, which act as channels of qi, or "life energy". Disharmony in the body, based on a patient's pattern of symptoms, is believed to be reflected in the tongue before manifesting as disease.

    A practitioner of TCM will observe the shape, color, size, texture, and coating of the tongue. A healthy tongue should be pale red, reasonably moist, fit neatly into the mouth, and have a thin white moss (coating). A red tongue indicates "heat", or excess "qi", and a pale tongue reflects "cold", or deficient "qi".

    The tongue is also considered when assessing the balance of yin and yang. A puffy tongue with tooth marks on the edges is often due to fluid retention, which may be caused by yang deficiency. An absence of tongue moss, which Chinese practitioners call "peeled" tongue, may be the result of deficient yin, characterized by a lack of body fluids and secretions.

    Different areas of the tongue are said to relate to different parts of the body, altering in color, shape, or texture according to internal problems. Red in the center of the tongue, for instance, could indicate "heat" in the stomach.





    AYURVEDIC TONGUE DIAGNOSIS

    Ayurvedic practitioner examining the tongue
    An Ayurvedic practitioner can assess whether the patient's three vital doshas are in harmony by examining the color, shape, and texture of the tongue.


    The tongue is analyzed by Ayurvedic practitioners in much the same way as in TCM. Abnormalities on the surface are said to indicate disturbances in the three vital energies, or doshas. A whitish tongue is linked to a Kapha disturbance, a red or yellow-green tongue suggests disrupted pitta, and a black or brown tongue disruptions in vata.

    Discolorations or irregularities on different parts of the tongue are associated with disturbances in different body organs. The condition of the lungs, for example, is believed to relate to the sides of the tongue toward the front.





    CONVENTIONAL MEDICAL OPINION

    Conventional practitioners often examine the tongue, but consider blood tests to be a more reliable diagnostic tool. Complementary practitioners' claims to detect nutritional deficiencies from the appearance of the tongue are thus in line with conventional medicine. However, Western practitioners do not accept tongue diagnosis as practiced in TCM and Ayurveda.




    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: Diagnostic Techniques Index




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