Many forms of medicine including western medicine, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believe that the tongue mirrors a lot about an individual’s health. A thorough examination of the tongue can reveal a lot about the health and digestion. The body signals a red flag by showing changes in the shape, color, coating, and surface texture of the tongue. By understanding these signs, you can easily understand these red flags and get immediate attention.
Important aspects of a normal tongue
When you check your tongue in front of a mirror, there are some focus points where you must direct your attention. These aspects are the color of the tongue, surface texture, and coating over the tongue, and shape around the corners. The tongue of a healthy individual has a pinkish hue with a uniform texture that is not too smooth or rough. The corners of a healthy tongue are uniform and the dorsal surface has a uniform light and thin white coating.
Changes in tongue color
A red hue of the tongue indicates heat changes occurring in the body. Fever or hormonal balance causing excess body temperature can reflect as a red tongue. A red tongue that looks beefy in appearance indicates an absorption malfunction of the digestive system causing adeficiency in Vitamin B12. This Vit B12 deficiency may also be accompanied by mineral deficiencies such as zinc, selenium, and iron.
Bluish color of the tongue suggests impairments in the circulation of body fluids. This stagnation of circulation can be related to emotional stagnation or depression. It also strongly suggests and internal injury.
A paleness of tongue is suggestive of alack of body’s energy. This may be due to anemia or a long-standing disease that is causing a depletion of the immune system.
Tongue Coating and disease
A red or shiny tongue, without the normal thin whitish coating, can indicate body’s internal exhaustion. For a normal digestive function, the body requires a regular flow of its natural fluids. When this is deficient, the body is unable to digest properly and also reflects the lack of a tongue coating.
Poor gut function and pathogenic fluid excess result in a thick white coating of the dorsum of thetongue. This thick coating, if easily removable on scrubbing with a cotton swab can indicate a yeast infection called Candidiasis. Yeast infections specifically candidiasis are directly related to disturbances in the body’s immunity.
The shape of the corners of the tongue can also reflect the internal condition. An enlargement of the tongue is frequently seen in cases with toxin accumulation. An enlarged and swollen tongue will push against the teeth resulting in scalloping/teeth marks at the corners. This can be related to body fluid stagnation, poor digestion, and also thyroid disease. A very thin tongue indicates chronic dehydration or weakness after a chronic disease has left the body depleted.
A bump on the tongue can be a signal of a viral or bacterial infection in the body. It can also show anallergic reaction to a food or a drug item. A furrowed, fissured, grooved, or wrinkled tongue can be signaling digestive problems. While these textures are relatively asymptomatic, they may cause problems in maintaining oral health . A black hairy tongue can be associated with excessive antibiotic use and poor oral hygiene.
White patches intermingled with red lesions that seem to be changing their location each day indicate geographic tongue. A white patch that is thick and cannot be scrapped off can be a pre-cancerous condition called leukoplakia and requires immediate attention. Similarly, wrinkling and white folds on the corners are an indication of an oral pathology that may otherwise be asymptomatic. Soreness, burning sensations, inability to move the tongue and lumps should be immediately checked by a specialist as these may be associated with cancer.
In addition to serving the essential functions of taste and speech, the tongue is also a gateway for manifestations of a number of diseases. When properly examined, warning signs reflected on the tongue can be picked up resulting in quick diagnosis for theestablishment of treatment of underlying diseases.