Tongue Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine
If you have ever visited an Acupuncturist or Chinese Herbalist you may have wondered, “why do they want to see my tongue?” The tongue is considered an important tool in Oriental Medicine diagnosis.
Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine
Chinese medicine is an ancient form of holistic healing that observes the changes in the body to determine various patterns of imbalance. These patterns are generally identified by listening, observing, smelling, and palpating, which add up to a surprisingly effective form of manual medicine. Generally, the practitioner will listen to the patient’s description of their symptoms, palpate the radial (wrist) pulse, and observe of the tongue. Some practitioners also use abdominal palpation and facial observation to determine the diagnosis.
How Tongue Diagnosis Works
So you are probably wondering what the practitioner is looking for when they observe your tongue. There are four basic components of tongue diagnosis:
- Tongue Body Color
- Tongue Body Shape
- Tongue Coating Quality
- Tongue Coating Color
By matching the characteristics of each of these components, a practitioner can comprehend the location of your imbalance, as well as several key characteristics of the condition. This information will help them decide upon the best treatment for your condition, such as what acupuncture points to needle or which herbal formula to prescribe.
So What Does A Normal Tongue Look Like?
A normal tongue should appear light red in color with a thin coat of white fur on top. It should not be too large or too small compared to the person’s mouth, nor should it appear too short or too long. The tongue should also not quiver or deviate to one side. The quality and amount of moisture on the tongue should also not be too wet or too dry.
Tongue diagnosis can become very detailed on the exact meaning of each characteristic. Generally speaking, the tongue body color and shape indicate the condition of your internal organs and the severity of the disease. The tongue coating is helpful in determining whether the condition is of a hot or cold nature, showing white or yellow fur respectively.
In the Western world, people commonly have poor eating habits, such as eating too fast or consuming rich and greasy foods. This leads to improper digestion that eventually will effect the functioning of your entire body. If the coating appears thick and greasy, you are probably suffering from some form of dampness in the body.
Remember to avoid brushing your tongue before you visit your Acupuncturist or Herbalist, as this will remove the tongue’s coating and not provide this important diagnostic information.
Will My Tongue Change?
Yes, your tongue does change. However, it will often take some time to see the results. The shape and color of the tongue react the slowest as these indicate more significant changes in your health. This change will come over several weeks of treatment. The tongue’s fur can change much quicker; depending on how quickly your digestive system is able to recover to its normal functioning.
It is a good practice to observe your tongue daily each morning under natural light. As you see the dynamic nature of the tongue, you may begin to see what the ancient Chinese doctors first observed as you correlate your symptoms with an observation of your tongue.