Ayurvedic Tongue Analysis: What does your tongue say about your health?

Ayurvedic tongue diagnosisThe tongue according to Ayurveda is a strong diagnostic tool for looking at one’s systemic health.  It is a very accurate view into the inner health of an individual.   Tongue analysis can be used complimentary with pulse, nail and facial diagnosis in order to really see what is going on internally and detect issues that may not have manifested otherwise.

Although this technique is typically used by Ayurvedic practitioners and other Eastern healers, it is simple enough to do a self-diagnosis, even with an Ayurvedic newbie! Although not everything will always show up on the tongue, more often than not it does.

It is important to regularly check your tongue in order to recognize when your body is accumulating toxins, when foods are causing negative reactions to your system or when other indications of disorder may arise.

Areas covered with tongue diagnosis:

  • Organ health
  • Vata, Pitta or Kapha imbalances
  • Presence of toxins and where they are accumulating
  • Tension and emotions held in the spine, shoulders or organs
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Anemia
  • Malabsorption of nutrients
  • Parasitic infection
  • Inflammation in the body

Basically each area of the tongue is related to a certain organ in the body. As you can see in the picture above, the front of the tongue is related to the lungs and heart; the middle with the liver, spleen and stomach; and the back with the kidneys, small intestine and the colon. The very tip of the tongue correlates with the thyroid; and vertically, smack in the middle of the tongue reveals the spine.

Tongue Abnormalities and What they Mean:

Tongue Coating and Location: 
tongue digagnosis

If the tongue has any sort of coating on it, this is a very clear indication of toxic build-up in the system and poor overall digestion. The most common area the coating is typically found is on the back of the tongue, revealing that the toxic build-up is in the colon area. If you see a coating on a different area, then that would indicate toxic build-up in which ever corresponding organ is involved in that specific site of the tongue. If the entire tongue is coated, this indicates systemic toxins meaning the toxins are in the blood stream and invading the entire body.

Tongue Coating and Color: 
Vata toxins tongue

So the first line of action is to discover if there are toxins and where they are located (see above). After that, if you wish to dive deeper into diagnosis, you can look at the color of the coating which will reveal the doshic imbalance that is involved. If the coating is grey, black  or brown, you can assume Vata toxins; if the coating is orange, reddish, yellow or green, this indicates Pitta toxins; and finally is there is a thick, whitish coating you can think Kapha toxins. This can be quite helpful as each toxin should be treated different, depending on which dosha is involved.

Vata Imbalance: 

Vata tongue

If a tongue is a so called “Vata tongue”, it is typically small, thin and shaky or trembling in appearance. It may look pale in color, appear to be dried out and have a few or many cracks on the top of it. Once again, if there is a coating it will be grey, blackish or brown in color and will typically coat the colon area of the tongue. This is a storybook picture of a tongue revealing a Vata imbalance.  Vata imbalances typically manifest as anxiety, fear, worry, restless mind, sleep issues, constipation, gas, bloating and dryness.

Pitta Imbalance:pitta tongue 2

If a tongue is of a Pitta nature, it may be medium in size, have a sharp or pointy tip and be excessively red in color. There may also be red dots on the top of the tongue which reveals excessive heat in the blood. If there is a coating on the tongue, it will be green, yellow or orange in color.   The coating will typically be located in the small and large intestine area, the liver area or may also be on the entire tongue revealing toxins in the blood stream.  Pitta imbalances manifest as inflammation, heat, skin disorders (psoriasis, eczema, acne…), anger, irritation, hyperacidity, loose stools and headaches.

Kapha Imbalance: white kapha toxins

A tongue revealing a Kapha imbalance tends to be large, thick and heavy by nature. It may appear swollen, pale in color and have thick saliva build-up. If there is a coating on a Kapha imbalanced tongue, the color of the coating usually will be whitish, thick and mucusy. The coating may be located in the colon, the kidney area, the lung area and/or the stomach area revealing increased Kapha in these organs.  Symptoms of a Kapha imbalance include heaviness (both objective and subjective), congestion, grief, sadness, depression, lethargy, excessive sleep, day sleeping, slow metabolism, slow digestion and easy weight gain.

Teeth Marks Around the Perimeter of the Tongue: 
malabsorption tongue

Unfortunately, it is quite common to see indentation marks along the outside perimeter of the tongue. This is a classic indication that there is malabsorption in the body of essential nutrients. Malabsorption is a lack of ability for your body to absorb specific nutrients and has a wide range of causes.  Some of these include poor digestion, inflammation in the GI tract, excessive toxins in the colon, intake of allergenic foods, chronic loose stools or parasitical infection.   Once this issue is removed, the teeth marks should disappear.  In certain cases however, these marks are due to a swollen tongue, revealing inflammation in the system (see below).

Crack, Vertically Down the Center of the Tongue:
spine tongue toxins colon

This vertical line that may be located down the center of the tongue, is an indication that there is stress and emotions being held in the spine. The top of the spine area (cervical spine) correlates to the tip of the tongue and the lower spine (lumbar spine) correlates to the back of the tongue.  So wherever the spine line manifests on the tongue, reveals where the tension is being held.  If there is any cracking along the spine, this indicates pain, tension and misalignment at which ever point the crack corresponds to on the tongue/spine.  This picture is an example of an individual with complete spinal tension with some misalignment in the neck area.

Many Cracks all Over the Tongue: 
Vata imbalance tongue

The appearance of multiple small cracks all over the tongue is a clear indicator of a strong, chronic Vata derangement such as high anxiety, fear, insomnia and possibly a nervous system disorder. If the cracks are only located on one area of the tongue, this may reveal chronic high Vata in that correlating organ (i.e. Vata in the colon).  Since the disorder is chronic, Vata pacification should be administered, although this may take some time to heal.  Once healed however, the cracks should begin to clear.

Swollen Tongue: 
swollen tongue 2

A swollen tongue may be a sign of inflammation in the body indicating the presence of an allergen such as an undesirable food. This can also reveal a Kapha imbalance such as hypothyroidism or fluid retention as well.  If one is suffering from a swollen tongue, more investigation should be administered in order to reveal the cause and begin to remove it.

Drooping in the Heart Area of the Tongue: 
back coated, depression in heart

A hollowness or scooping around the center of the tongue, is a common indicator that there is unresolved sadness, grief or depression in the heart.  This picture shows a clear depression in the heart as well as systemic toxins, due to the coating, and excessive heat in the blood, due to the red dots and red edges of the tongue.  Each imbalance we have occurring in our system is often correlated with the other, and therefore it is often necessary to look at the entire picture.

Red, Raised Papillae on the Top of the Tongue: 
parasite tongue

If you see these raised red dots on the surface of your tongue, this typically means there is excessive Pitta or heat in the plasma and blood.  Typically, a tongue with these red dots will also be excessively red along the perimeter, confirming this increase of heat.  Too much heat can result in loose stools, hyperacidity, ulcer, inflammation, headaches, excessive anger or irritation.  This can be resolved through cooling, Pitta balancing practices and the appropriate dietary changes.

Pale Tongue:
pale tongue

A pale tongue is typically a sign of low red blood cells indicating possible anemia. This can be due to excessive blood loss (heavy menstruation or injury); an iron, folate or B12 deficiency; ulcer, parasitical infection, certain medications (including NSAIDS), malabsorption, chronic diseases such a cancer, rheumatoid arthritis or HIV; or many different autoimmune conditions.  Anemia can cause fatigue, weakness, poor circulation, frequent bruising, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat and cognitive issues.  If anemia is suspected, one can look to see if other symptoms are involved (or not); as well as the nails and the pink under the eye (when stretched down) to see if these areas are also pale.

Conclusion:

So there you have the most common attributes to look for in a self-tongue diagnosis along with what these different revelations may indicate for your health.

Make this analysis a part of your daily routine by peeking at the tongue each morning upon awakening.  It is best to do this before brushing the teeth or scraping the tongue for the most accurate diagnosis.  The tongue may change day to day depending on our food choices, emotions and overall health; so this practice can often reveal allergenic foods being eaten, imbalance manifesting or illness in its potential stage.

As always it is best to learn from a knowledgeable practitioner, so if any questions arise, please do not hesitate to contact me with questions!

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18 Comments

  1. Pamala Sandler October 1, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

    I have been dealing with burning tongue, teeth marks around the perimeter,and a very sore spot along the right side for a year now. I have seen my doctor, dentist, wellness center and an ENT and no one can help me. I have tried products for dry mouth, multi vit., and Gabapentin 100mg. and nothing has helped. If there is anything that you could tell me that will help I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you for your time.

    • Danielle October 2, 2015 at 10:23 am #

      Hi Pamela! Thank you for your inquiry. From the little information I know, this definitely is a Pitta imbalance meaning there is an excessive amount of heat in the body and blood. Unfortunately, to give proper recommendations, I would need to know a lot more information and history on not just the issue, but on you as a whole. In Ayurveda, it is vital to treat the individual and not the disorder and this would require much more intake. Potentially a pitta-balancing regimen may be beneficial for you, but it is not certain. I do believe that through proper herbs, lifestyle and diet this can definitely be treated though! Feel free to contact me directly if you have any further questions. Namaste!

    • Ahmad October 7, 2016 at 7:16 am #

      Hi Pamela,

      i have been suffering from this issue for this months now. I am tired from doctors now. Have you made any successes by now.

  2. Dava October 17, 2015 at 5:30 am #

    There is a red splotch on the right side of my tongue. Can you please help me with what this is. Much Appreciated. I did not see anything like this in the pictures indicated above.

    THANK YOU
    Dava

    • Danielle October 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

      Hi Dava! Thank you for your inquiry. The tongue is a great indicator for various issues in the body. The red splotch is most likely a sign of excessive Pitta dosha or heat in the system. Typically more cooling diet and practices are needed, although I can not give specific advise without knowing more information. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any further questions! Namaste, Danielle

    • Louise November 17, 2016 at 10:24 am #

      Heck of a job there, it abelsutloy helps me out.

  3. David Low December 28, 2015 at 2:05 am #

    I would like to send some of my tongue photo to you to analyze.

  4. tyler December 29, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    I have a Crack running down the middle from front to back and some other straight cracks running parallel to the center line only on one side (my right side) what does that mean?

    • Danielle January 4, 2016 at 10:17 am #

      Hi Tyler! The middle line crack is showing stress and emotions that are being held in the spine. The parallel cracks on the right side are showing tension in the right shoulder or back area, depending where they are located on the right side. This is all I can say without seeing the tongue in person. Hope this helps! Namaste, Danielle

  5. Pamela January 20, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    I have a condition on my tongue called geographic tongue from time to time..what causes that and what should i do to rid that when it pops up. I also have cracks on the front portion of my tongue..plz advise

  6. Tt March 28, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

    I have black dots on my tongue the doctor told me it’s from too much melatonin. I did the laser treatment however they are back. Are there any over the counter meds or some type of cream to take it off.

  7. Raul June 25, 2016 at 12:12 am #

    My tongue looks exactly like that “Red, Raised Papillae” should i be worried?

  8. rena July 7, 2016 at 11:42 am #

    My doc said i have uc. My tongue has a white coating with yellowing. No taste in my mouth at all. What can i use to rid my blood of toxins? Thank you

    • Danielle July 11, 2016 at 11:24 am #

      Hi Rena,

      There are many methods to getting rid of toxins in the system. The first step is to increase the digestion, as this is usually a main cause of toxic accumulation. Simultaneously you can be using herbs to cleanse the liver and blood, and burn overall toxins from the system. We have an herbal blend called the Daily Detox Formula. It is useful for all of these purposes that I just mentioned and is a main component of our Herbal Detox Kit. These herbs can be taken three times daily, while making the necessary diet and lifestyle changes. Please let me know if you have any further questions!

      Namaste,
      Danielle

  9. Lisa August 21, 2016 at 7:50 pm #

    I’ve just been made aware of how our tongue can help determine body ailments. I’m hoping you can maybe help… my tongue is long, pointy, and has a very deep/wide, full length vertical crevasse/crack with short feeler cracks reaching horizontally. The crevasse is redder than the tongue sides, which are pink. Quite frankly, it’s a very ugly tongue. I’m riddled with chronic pain and digestive “issues”… where might I begin healing Efforts? Thanks

    • Danielle August 22, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

      Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for your questions! I would be happy to give you a quick analysis of your tongue; however, please keep in mind that without seeing it in person, there is more room for error. From the description it sounds mostly like a Vata imbalance that is occurring. The line down the center indicates a chronic issue of holding stress, tension and emotions in the spine. The smaller cracks indicate this is once again related to a Vata imbalance which could mean that you are storing anxiety, fear and worry in the spine. The redness also indicates there is increase Pitta as well, and since it is also located in your spinal area, this can indicate you are also holding anger, judgement or irritation here too. In terms of treatment, I would need to hear much more info for proper advice. I do offer consultations worldwide, so if you are ever interested, contact me anytime:)

      Namaste,
      Danielle

  10. Ana August 30, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

    Hi there!

    My boyfriend and I both got red bumps on our tongue around the same time. We have been tested for everything under the sun and they can’t find a correlation.

    Doctors believe mine to be geographic tonuge as I have patches that move around, but I also have a lot of red dots along my tongue and particularly a lot at the front of my tongue. I also have acid reflux which I’m takng medication for now. I think that could be partially due to my tongue but is it really a coincidence we got two totally unrelated tongue issues at the same time? What could it be that we haven’t been tested for!?!

    My tongue looks similar to “red raised papilae” but not as white.

    Please advise!

  11. Gede Ngurah Ambara November 14, 2016 at 11:34 pm #

    It is very good website, I would like to know more about Ayurvedic medicine

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Tongue scraping | Yoga Ayurveda Meditation Bondi on February 9, 2015 at 4:37 am

    […] the vital organs of the body. If you have read my previous article on Ayurvedic Tongue Analysis, you have learned that each section of the tongue correlates to a different organ in the body. By […]

  2. […] If you see any kind of film on the tongue, this is an indicator that the body has toxic build-up and overall poor digestion. Typically, the coating is found toward the back of the tongue, which represents the colon region. If the entire tongue has a coating, there’s a system-wide toxicity issue that has entered the blood stream. For film that is grey, black or brown, a Vata imbalance is indicated. For orange, yellow, green or reddish color, you can assume Pitta toxins. For Kapha, the coating will be thick and whitish. You can learn more about the different dosha and their relationship to the tongue here. […]

  3. […] If you see any kind of film on the tongue, this is an indicator that the body has toxic build-up and overall poor digestion. Typically, the coating is found toward the back of the tongue, which represents the colon region. If the entire tongue has a coating, there’s a system-wide toxicity issue that has entered the blood stream. For film that is grey, black or brown, a Vata imbalance is indicated. For orange, yellow, green or reddish color, you can assume Pitta toxins. For Kapha, the coating will be thick and whitish. You can learn more about the different dosha and their relationship to the tongue here. […]

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