Ayurveda Day 36: The Tongue

Being an Ayurvedic Practitioner is a lot like being a detective. Through various tools, we gather clues about your constitution, or what imbalances you tend towards, and what your current state of health is in this moment. One of the most interesting tools we have is the examination of the tongue.

The tongue is the most easily examinable part of the digestive system, since it is located in the mouth. The rest of our digestive system hides within our body. The tongue in and of itself doesn’t help us to diagnose. As my instructor put it today:

“The tongue doesn’t provide us with answers, it provides us with questions”.

Rather poignant, and good to keep in mind.

So what’s so special about the tongue anyway?

By examining different aspects of the tongue, we can gather clues as to which doshas may be out of balance in the body.

For example, we may notice things such as scalloping, dry cracks, or tremors – signs of Vata. Redness is indicative of Pitta, and froth is a sign of Kapha.

In and of itself, that’s not really that special. But we can also examine buildup on the surface of the tongue, called ama, in order to see how much toxins are in the body. Ama appears on the tongue as either grayish/brown, yellowish/green, or white gunk and is the body’s way of shedding it.

Okay, so it can provide us with two ways of gaining clues about what’s going on in the body. Big deal.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the tongue is that much like the reflexology of the foot, different regions on the tongue correspond to different parts of the body. By examining where imbalances are on the tongue, we can find clues as to where in the body specifically there may be problems.

Tongue Map

I don’t know about you but I think that’s pretty cool! Almost as if we have evolved with an external map to our internal systems for us to read.

So the tongue is super important. We need to acknowledge it’s importance, and also talk about how to keep it happy.

Here are Saran’s tips and tricks on the tongue:

– The tongue is in the mouth where the beginning of the digestive process is. Take a moment before eating to prepare your body to eat, so you salivate and help the tongue do it’s job to move and break down food before you swallow.
– Don’t brush your tongue. It drives the ama buildup on your tongue further into the tissues and makes it worse.
– Ama can often be associated with bad breath. Buy a tongue scraper from any local pharmacy and gently scrape the ama from the back of the tongue towards the tip. You only need to do this 3 times. Don’t do it aggressively or excessively.

Let’s put it this way: The tongue is like a window into our health. Most of us may think we are healthy or that our symptoms are manageable. But if your tongue doesn’t look free of symptoms, then I can guarantee that you aren’t either. If you look at your tongue in a mirror and notice excessive dryness, cracking, scalloping, etc. you should definitely consult a CAS.

Everyone look at your tongues!

With gratitude,



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