Stick it out and learn to diagnose root imbalances using the techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

This week I thought it might be fun to focus on the tongue. Sometimes when patients come to see me they can be a bit confused. They want to know why I ask them to stick out their tongue. It might seem a bit strange if you’re in for a sore back and the first thing you’re asked is “stick out your tongue!”

It’s an ancient technique in Chinese Medicine and it’s still one of the main ways we can see what’s happening internally with the health and constitution of an individual.

In TCM we try to balance the whole and looking at the list below you can see that a quick tongue diagnosis can tell us a lot. This simple, effective and reliable observational diagnostic tool can give us a good idea of what is going on in the body as a whole.

Tongue Color

  • pink = normal or minimal concern
  • pale = deficient cold, yang/qi deficient
  • red = heat (full or deficient)
  • dark red = extreme heat (common to see in menopausal women)
  • purple = stagnation/blockage
  • blue = severe internal cold

Tongue Shape

  • crooked/deviated to one side = wind
  • cracked = normal (from birth) or chronic internal illness
  • narrow = heat
  • swollen = dampness
  • thin = fluid deficient
  • trembling = wind

Coat Color

  • white = cold
  • yellow = heat
  • gray = internal heat or cold
  • black = severe condition

As you can see from the diagram above, different areas of the tongue relate to different organ imbalances.

Lower Jiao

The Base of the tongue corresponds to the Kidney, Urinary Bladder, Large Intestine and Small Intestine Meridians.

Middle Jiao

The sides of the tongue correspond to the Liver and Gall Bladder meridians. Some theories place the Gall Bladder on the patients left side and the Liver on the patients right side.
The Middle of the tongue corresponds to the Stomach and Spleen Meridians.

Upper Jiao

The Tip of the tongue corresponds to the Lung and the Heart Meridians.

The next time you brush your teeth, stick out your tongue and look in the mirror!
See if you can find out what your tongue says about your body!