If you have had a treatment with me, then chances are, I have asked to look at your tongue. I am sure half my patients are thinking to themselves; what does that have to do with anything? While the other half are hoping their breath does not smell. No, I am not testing your manners. Looking at the tongue provides fruitful amounts of diagnostic information.
How is the tongue a diagnostic tool? I like to think of the tongue as the only part of the body that is partially exterior and partially interior. It really is fascinating, we can see the tongue on the exterior, but it also has an immediate connection to the interior! Because of this amazing quality, the tongue can be used as a guide to show us what is going on in the inside of the body. Let’s go one step further, all of the organs general health can be assessed by their specified area on the tongue. For instance, someone who suffers from anxiety may have a red tipped tongue; since the heart is reflected on the tip. Perhaps a smoker may have a dip or little vertical lines in the area towards the front of their tongue; which is where the lung health is reflected.
Other than the organ’s reflected health, when looking at a patient’s tongue, I am also looking at the shape, color, coating, as well as the general vitality of the tongue. The overall vitality of the tongue can be very helpful to understand how energy and blood flows through the body. The overall color of the tongue can help me to determine how the blood is flowing, if the patient is suffering from a hot condition, or cold type condition. For example, a vegetarian may have a pale colored tongue, do to a diet lacking of blood enriched foods. A patient who has a fever may likely have a very red tongue, whereas a patient who suffers from chronic painful periods may have a tongue that is of a purple hue. Lastly, when observing the coat, it can be overall, or in a specific organ reflection area. A thicker coat in the center of the tongue is normal for someone who may have digestive troubles, whereas a thicker coat towards the back of the tongue might be reflective of a patient who has frequent urinary tract infections.
*Note: all examples are all very general, nothing in Chinese Medicine is ever typical; we are all individuals.
Along with many, including Will Smith’s (very offended) Family, I won’t soon forget the unfortunate “twerking” incident of the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. To this day, I am still not quite sure what the teddy bear was all about, what the foam hand was for, and what was going on with Miley Cyrus’s hair. However, what I also couldn’t stop from thinking was, wow! Look at that tongue! The shape, the color, good gracious, that coat!!!!
So, now that you know the basics, let’s have a bit of fun diagnosing!
In my opinion, I believe this to be a heart tongue. The tongue is very pale, with the exception of the redness at the tip; indicating some overall blood deficiency along with some heart heat. I would predict, she suffers from some insomnia, dream disturbed sleep, and perhaps some irritability or anxiety. The length of the tongue, as well as the shape ending in a pointed tip, actually points at some heart *constitutional weakness. However, in some cases (I am not assuming, only stating possibilities) this type of tongue can also be seen in patients with a history of drug abuse. Now, let’s discuss this coat! It is crazy thick and it is all over! This type of coat may indicate what we refer to as “phlegm” in the body. In this case, I predict she suffers from chronic lack of sleep, repressed emotions, irrational thoughts and/or mood swings, and I am sure there are some gastrointestinal problems going on.
*When I say constitutional weakness, I am referring to her Fire Element, which most entertainers are the Fire Element. I simply mean, she is more susceptible to conditions like anxiety and depression than some.
Tongue reading is fascinating right???
Many acupuncturists believe the tongue to be the most reliable tool used in order to make a diagnosis. I for one agree, the tongue does not lie! No matter what the pulse is telling me, what your signs and symptoms are, even when things conflict (in regards to Chinese Medicine patterns), I always hone in on that informative tongue for clarity! So now that you know what I am up to, don’t be shy, stick out your tongue please!!!
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Stay Healthy, Warm and Zen!