“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 toxins in my body. I am happy to have discovered this, but now I am left confused since I do not know how to get rid of the coating and 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. You are correct that the coating on your tongue is an indication that there is a build-up of toxins in your 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 thin coating that covers the entire tongue, this shows us that some toxins have made their way to the circulation as well. Since the coating is a whitish color, the toxins likely are from a Kapha imbalance.
Ayurveda states that the root cause of toxins (ama) in the body comes from a low or imbalanced digestive fire (Agni). 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 digestion is weak, this leads to undigested food being left in the system, which then leads to toxic accumulation.
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 an essential practice, especially when there is a coating on the tongue. This coating is made of toxins that have accumulated throughout the night. 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.
2. Start the day with an 8-ounce cup of hot water.
Beginning each morning with a cup of hot water is a great way to increase your digestion and flush toxins from your system. Feel free to add some fresh lemon juice for an added detox boost!
3. Keep the diet simple, with warm and well-cooked foods.
Keep the diet simple by eating mostly home-cooked meals and using whole-food ingredients. Avoid all processed foods, artificial ingredients, preservatives, dyes, and other additives. Eat warm, well-cooked meals while avoiding raw food, cold food, and improper food combinations. A few great recipes to use during this time include Classic Cleansing Kitchari, Tridoshic Red Lentil Dal, Bone Broth Soup, Tridoshic Quinoa and Veggie Stir-Fry and Kapha-Reducing Kitchari.
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. If you do not prefer these spices in your meals, an herbal honey infusion is a tasty way to get your spices in before the meal and increase your digestion and metabolism.
5. Take a digestive appetizer before meals.
Since there are many indications that you are experiencing weak digestion, it will be essential to rev up your fire to help digest new food coming and assist in flushing out the toxins that have already accumulated. One of the most common ways to get the digestive juices flowing is to begin each meal with a digestive-enhancing supplement.
You can try our DIY ginger, honey, and lime digestive appetizer. Whichever you choose, make sure to be consistent and take it before every meal (and maybe a bit extra before big meals!)
6. Avoid heavy foods such as dairy, meat, white sugar, and gluten.
These foods are all heavy and hard on digestion, especially when it is already weak. Eating these foods on a regular basis will continue the pattern of diminishing digestion and increasing toxins. Therefore, until the digestion is strong and the tongue is clear, these foods should be avoided completely or greatly reduced.
7. Take a 10 to 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. Making it a regular habit to walk 10 to 15 minutes after meals will improve your digestion and speed up your metabolism. As an added bonus, it will help to ward off the sleepiness you feel after food and increase your overall energy.
8. Drink a cleansing tea between meals.
Drinking a cleansing herbal tea throughout the day is a great complement to any detoxification program. You can make a strong cup of ginger tea or CCF tea. Drink at least 1 to 2 cups daily between meals and remember consistency is essential!
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 ½ teaspoon each night before bed in warm water will promote healthy elimination in the morning and flush out any stagnant toxins that have accumulated in the night.
10. Perform a Kitchari Cleanse.
Kitchari is the classic, cleansing Ayurvedic 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 (e.g. every Sunday) for a gentler, long-term cleansing regimen.
So Toxic Tongue, here are some great recommendations for you to begin a gentle daily detoxification program. Please note that if the toxins are chronic or long-standing, the treatment plan may take a while; 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 should subside.
Please contact me if you have any further questions, especially if you are planning to do the Kitchari Cleanse. I wish you strength, willpower, and courage during this time of change and taking control of your health.