How often do you check out your tongue? How about everybody else's? If you're not seeing an acupuncturist, tongues might not be on your radar... But the truth is there is a ton of variability in tongues, and we can learn a lot from their presentation! Don't believe me? Start checking out people's tongues- your friends', spouse's, the actor screaming in your favorite TV show, the singer belting out the National anthem for the latest sports broadcast, etc.
The following qualities are the three main things your acupuncturist is assessing:
Tongues range from pale pink to dark red to various shades of purple. The color of your tongue can reflect that you're not getting enough nourishment (pale), that you're in pain (dark red or purple), or that you're not sleeping well (red tip). What color is your tongue?
Acupuncturists also take the shape of your tongue into consideration - the width, length, and tip. Your tongue may also present as swollen, or have toothmarks at the edges. Different areas of the tongue correspond with different systems in the body, and disharmony in a system may reflect in that area of the tongue. When your acupuncturist asks to see your tongue, gently extend your tongue out of your mouth (no need to stick it out like your 5-year-old self would!). If the tongue is extended forcefully, the natural shape of the tongue can be altered.
Have you ever noticed a coating on your tongue? Some people scrape theirs off, but your acupuncturist will ask you not to! We can learn a lot of information from a tongue coat, which can vary in color, thickness, texture, moisture, and location pattern. There can be cracks in the coat in different areas, as well. A healthy coat is thin, white, and distributed evenly over the tongue. Don't believe that your tongue coat is related to your health? Observe your tongue during a cold or flu, while you're recovering, and after you're back to good health!