How to ‘read’ your tongue – and what it says about your health

From digestive issues to infection: How to ‘read’ your tongue – and what it says about the state of your health

  • The state of your tongue can say a lot about the overall state of your health 
  • According to Chinese medicine the tongue is separated into different areas
  • A practitioner will look at the shape, the coating and how it fits into the mouth

Chances are you probably don’t spend too much time examining your tongue, but a quick glance can reveal a surprising amount about the state of your overall health.

In fact, there’s a whole range of information that can be gleaned from ‘reading’ its size, texture, colour and shape, according to Australian Chinese medical practitioner Waveny Holland.

Ms Holland explained that a tongue diagnosis uses a chart, one that corresponds to different parts of the body. And this can reveal signs of disease and imbalance that the patient may not even know.

From the tongue’s texture, shape and colour, the expert told FEMAIL how you can read this organ to uncover a raft of health secrets.

Your tongue can reveal a surprising amount about the state of your overall health (stock image)

Tongue colour:

How the tongue relates to different parts of the body: 

The tip of the tongue reflects organs that are higher in the chest: the lungs and heart.

The middle of the tongue represents organs that are in the middle of the trunk: liver and gallbladder on the sides and the stomach in the centre.

The back of the tongue reflects organs deeper in the trunk, such as the intestines, bladder, and kidneys.

 Source: The Epoch Times

‘A normal, healthy tongue is usually a pinkish, light red, with a slight white coating and is neither too thick or thin and not flabby or overlapping the teeth, Ms Holland explained.

If circulation is restricted – this can occur during menstruation – the tongue may be more purple, she said.

A pale tongue can signal a vitamin or mineral deficiency and is more commonly seen among those suffering from anaemia.

A red tongue (depending on which area of the body this corresponds to on the tongue map) represents heat. This could indicate fever or a rise in body temperature associated with menopause.

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Tongue shape:

The first part of a diagnosis may include a looking at the tongue’s shape.

Ms Holland said a puffy tongue can suggest a lack of nutrients and moisture, while a thin tongue could suggest dehydration.

Australian Chinese medical practitioner Waveny Holland

Tongue coating:

If the tongue has a thin, white coating this is considered healthy and normal, however, if there is no coating this may signal dehydration.

A yellow and dry tongue indicates “heat” in the body. The deeper the colour, the higher the level of body ‘heat’.

This can indicate an infection or bacterial build-up or other imbalances.

A tongue with a grey and black appearance indicates ‘stagnation’. Stagnation refers to the flow of energy, blood and fluid in the body.

Tongue surface texture:

A tongue which has bumps or protuberances or cracks can also reveal a range of health potential problems.

Bumps on the tongue are diagnosed depending where they are and what they look like specifically, said Ms Holland.

A scalloped tongue (one with ridges on the outside edge) indicates fluid retention (stock image)

For instance, a bump on the top of the tongue may be a sign of a bacterial or viral infection or even a possible allergic reaction to medication.

Deep cracks in the centre indicate that a patient is prone to digestive issues while sores (ulcers) can indicate a deficiency.

A patchy tongue, also called a ‘geographic tongue’ can reflect heat in the stomach which may manifest as acid reflux.

A scalloped tongue (one with ridges on the outside edge) indicates fluid retention. 

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