“I am a 34 year old female from the Mid-West. Since reading your “Ayurvedic Tongue Analysis” article, I have been examining my tongue each morning. I seem to have a thick, white coating on my tongue which gets worse in the back area (although it is partially coated all over). According to the article, the coating is due to a build-up of toxins in my body. I am happy to have discovered this issue, but now I am left confused since I do not know how to get rid of the coating and remove these toxins. If it helps, I am 5’4, 145 pounds and have been told I am a Pitta–Kapha body type. My energy is fairly low at this time and I tend to gain weight easily. I typically feel very sleepy after a meal and crave sweets often. Please help me Ayurveda!” Toxic Tongue
Dear Toxic Tongue:
I am so happy that you have written in with this question, as this is an incredibly common issue for so many people. To get right down to the point, yes the coating on the tongue is a very clear indication that there is a build-up of toxins in the body. Since the coating is the thickest at the back of the tongue, we can assume that the toxins are mainly in the colon. However, since there is a thinner coating that covers the entire tongue, this shows mild toxic accumulation has made its way to the circulation as well. Finally, since the coating is of a whitish color, this reveals that the toxins come from a Kapha imbalance.
So now that we have a proper diagnosis of the situation, we can ask, “How do we get rid of these toxins?”. Ayurveda states that the root cause of toxins (also known as ama) in the body comes from a low or imbalanced digestive fire. This can be confirmed further by the fact that you are feeling sleepy after meals and tend to gain weight easily, which are a couple of the main indicators of a “slow fire” or Manda Agni. Since the digestive fire is weak, this is leading to undigested food being left in the system, which then leads to toxic accumulation (and eventually disease).
If the cause of the toxins is a slow digestive fire, then we must begin a regimen geared toward increasing digestion, while “burning” toxins. There are many ways to go about this, and each individual will need a different protocol; depending on their constitution, their unique needs, the current season, etc. So for the sake of this general article, I will give you some simple, safe and gentle approaches that will work for your Pitta–Kapha constitution, as well as most other body-types.
1. Scrape the tongue first thing each morning.
Scraping the tongue each morning is a mandatory practice, especially when there is a coating on the tongue. This coating is indeed toxins that have accumulated throughout the night, and if you do not scrape them off first thing each morning, you will reabsorb the toxins back into the system. For the Kapha toxins that you are experiencing, I would suggest using a copper tongue scraper for the best results. Click here to purchase a copper tongue scraper.
2. Start the day with an 8oz cup of hot water.
Beginning each morning with a cup of hot water is a great practice to add to your morning regimen for increasing the digestion and flushing toxins from the system. Feel free to add some fresh lemon juice for an added detox boost. Read more health benefits of here.
3. Keep the diet simple, with warm and well-cooked foods.
Keep the diet simple and warm by eating mostly home-cooked meals, using whole food ingredients. Avoid all processed foods, artificial ingredients, preservatives and other additives. Eat warm meals with simple ingredients; avoiding raw food, cold food and improper food combinations. A few great recipes to use during this time include: Classic Cleansing Kitchari, Ayurvedic Red Lentil Dahl, Bone Broth Soup, Quinoa Stir-Fry, Christmas Kitchari and Root Veggie Stew.
4. Spice your meals.
Each meal should contain an adequate amount of detoxifying, digestive enhancing spices such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, cumin, coriander, fennel and fenugreek. You can also use my Agni Churna spice mix, Ayurvedic Breakfast Spices or my Kapha Honey Infusion.
5. Avoid heavy foods such as dairy, meat, white sugar and gluten.
These foods are all heavy and hard on the digestion, especially when the fire is already low. Taking in these foods on a regular basis will continue the pattern of decreasing the fire and increasing toxic accumulation. Therefore, until the digestion is strong and the tongue is clear, these foods should be avoided completely or greatly reduced.
6. Take a 10-15 minute walk after meals.
Walking has innumerable health benefits, and taking a short walk after a meal is a great way to get the digestive juices flowing. Make it a regular habit to walk 10-15 minutes after each meal, and not only will you increase the digestive force, but also increase the metabolism and energy levels as well.
7. Drink Detox Tea throughout the day.
Taking this powerful infusion of cleansing herbs throughout the day is a great compliment to any detoxification program. Drink at least 1-2 cups daily between meals. Remember consistency is essential! Click here to purchase Detox Tea.
8. Perform a gentle Kitchari Cleanse.
Kitchari is the classic, cleansing Ayuvedic dish commonly used during times of detoxification. Taking a mono-diet of this meal for up to a week is an incredibly powerful way to give the digestion a rest, and flush toxins from the system. This cleanse is typically done either 3, 5 or 7 days in a row, but can also be used as a 1 day-a-week routine (i.e every Sunday) for a gentler, long-term cleansing regimen. It is always recommended that any cleanse be done under the guidance of a practitioner. Click here to read more on “How to Perform a Kitchari Cleanse”.
9. Take Triphala Churna before bed each night.
Triphala is a traditional Ayurvedic formula used for cleansing the GI tract, liver and blood on a daily basis. Taking a 1/2 tsp each night before bed in warm water will promote healthy elimination in the morning, flushing out any stagnant toxins that have accumulated. Click here to read more about Triphala Churna.
So Toxic Tongue, here are some great recommendations for you to begin your daily detoxification program. Please note that if the toxins are chronic or long-standing, the treatment plan may take a while as well. But do not get discouraged! Stick to these healthy practices and you will notice the coating getting thinner and thinner by the week. One day you may wake up and have nothing to scrape off of the tongue at all! As the coating begins to wane, the energy should increase and the cravings subside.
Please contact me if you have any further questions, especially if you are planning to do the Kitchari Cleanse. I wish you strength, will-power and courage during this time of change and taking control of your health.