By Daoshing Ni
My question to
you is why do you keep closing your eyes when you stick your tongue out? The
tongue is an important useful organ for many animals. It is used by birds and
frogs to catch insects. Dogs and cats stick their tongues out to show affection.
It is helpful in chewing and swallowing our food. It plays an important part in
forming the sounds we speak. It is also the chief organ of taste. It helps us to
determine what and how much food to eat (for some people). Of course, our sense
of smell also determines how the food tastes.
But the tongue
is more than that to a Chinese Medicine practitioner.
Since it is
highly vascular and contains many important taste receptor cells, it is richly
supplied by both the nervous system and circulatory system. It is also
constantly nourished or “bathed in” saliva. Saliva is secreted by our salivary
glands and controlled by our autonomic nervous system. It contains water,
electrolytes, mucus, and enzymes. It serves many functions and can change the
appearance of the tongue. Therefore the tongue is a very sensitive organ and its
appearance can change with many physiological changes in the body. By observing
the tongue we can see how our whole body is functioning and able to detect
imbalances in different systems in our body. When we ask you to stick your
tongue out, we are observing the appearance of the tongue in three distinct
The first area is the tongue
We may evaluate
the size of the tongue compared to the opening of the mouth or observe any teeth
marks on the sides. This may indicate edema or swelling in your body. We may
search for any ulcerations or lacerations of the tongue. It may indicate a body
that is prone or having some form of inflammation. The color of tongue can give
us ideas of the strength of one’s health. The normal tongue is pinkish red with
a certain shine. When the tongue appears pale, it may be a sign of anemia or
weakened body. When it is red, it may be exhibiting hyperactivity in different
systems of the body. When the tongue color has a tinge of purple, this might be
an indication of pain, congestion and blockages in the body. In general, the
tongue proper exhibits the strength of your body’s own immunity and functioning.
The second area is the tongue
A normal tongue
should have a very thin clear coating that exhibits proper enzymatic content and
salivary secretions. When the coat becomes thick, it is frequently a sign of
imbalance in the digestive system.
When the coat
turns thick and cruddy, it is frequently a sign of decreased immune system with
Candida (yeast infection) presentation.
When the coat
peels, it is frequently a sign of damage or weakening to a certain systems of
the body. When the coat turns yellow, it is frequently a sign of infection or
inflammation in the body.
The third area is regional
of the tongue are represented by the functioning state of different regions of
the body. For example, Area A of the tongue represents the functioning of the
nervous system and the immune system. Any changes in this area can point to
common colds, flu, upper respiratory infections, sleep disorders, and changes in
Area B of the tongue is represented by the liver and detoxification function of
the body. Changes in this region can indicate changing toxicity levels in the
in this region can mean pain and discomfort in the body. Area C is represented
by the functioning of the digestive system and any changes in this area can be
an indication of imbalance in the digestion and absorption functions in the
body. Area D is represented by the urogenital systems as well as the intestines.
Peeling in this region can mean adrenal weakness or chronic low back pains.
Thickening of yellow coating in this region can mean either constipation or
urinary tract infections. Other changes in this area can indicate problems in
the urinary, reproductive and elimination systems.
So next time
when we ask you to stick your tongue out, please do it with gusto and you do not
need to close your eyes!