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What body information can we get from looking at the tongue?

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

Tongue examination is the most intuitive way of diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine. If you look at your tongue, you can get many information about your body condition and can learn about whether your body is healthy enough.

First, shortage of positive energy( vital Qi)

In the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, positive energy keeps human body healthy. A Chinese medicine doctor usually analyze the level of positive energy by the method of tongue diagnosis, in which the coating of the tongue could provide more obvious evidence.

One situation is that the tongue coating is gone, which usually represents severe weakness of the stomach or dryness of the body. The other situation is that the coating on the tongue becomes thicker, which usually means food accumulation or aggravation of phlegm and dampness. That is usually caused by excessive drinking and eating, which leads to dysfunction the digestive system. Both two situations indicates the low level of positive energy of the body.

A normal tongue should be ruddy, flexible with proper coating. So besides the abnormal tongue coating, there are some other possibility to show the shortage of positive energy. Such as pale tongue, thin tongue. Or some people may have difficulty to pull out the tongue and when the tongue is pulled out, it tends to tremble. These situations of the tongue must be brought to the forefront because they often indicate very severe problems.

Second, severity of pathogens( evil Qi)

Through the observation of the tongue image, one can determine whether the pathogens are powerful and prosperous. Let's take dampness for example. Actually, dampness is not very easy to judge through methods other than tongue observation. Sometimes, a doctor can't make clear diagnosis just by asking the patient because the answers from the patient are often vague.

Dampness and tongue coating are linked directly. When a person's tongue coating is thick and sticky and is full of saliva, it can indicate the dampness is heavy. Meanwhile, when the tongue body is fat and has teeth marks on the side of the tongue, it may be also related to the severe dampness.

Third, nature of the pathogens

Tongue image also help us to estimate the quality of pathogenic factors. There are two opposite nature of pathogens: cold and heat. In the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, exogenous factors and internal factors are all called negative energy ( evil Qi) , which are obstacles to the body's movement of blood and liquid essence. Before regulating the balance of body, a Chinese Medicine doctor must identify the nature of the pathogens accurately, and then select correct herbs and acupoints for treatment. Treating the heat problems as if it were cold would not have any effect, but would exacerbate the condition. The color of tongue( white and red) can provide the simplest and most effective diagnostic basis for identifying the nature ( cold and heat) of pathogens.

Fourth, Status of recovery

By examining the tongue, we can verify whether we are recuperating properly and how our health condition turns to be. After the recuperation measures, such as acupressure, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and so on, are carried out, the body condition really starts to improve of the tongue sign changes. If the tongue sign does not change, then these adjustment measures may only have a superficial effect, even most symptoms of the condition are reduced. Why? That is because the tongue shows that the problems still exist in body. So the further treatment is very necessary until the tongue image changes. Sometimes the tongue picture changes very quickly, and the Chinese Medicine doctor will make a new treatment plan for the new condition.

As a result, learning tongue diagnosis, can help us to understand the status of the body, and guide us to a healthy life. It is so intuitive and simple that even common people can master the methods easily. This is very meaningful for everyone to keep healthy for themselves and their family.

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