Tongue Diagnostics

Tongue DiagnosticsDiagnosing diseases and the overall health condition of a client according to the shape, coat, colour and other indicators of their tongue is a system quite popular and developed in Eastern medicine, traditional Chinese medicine but also frequently used in Western medicine. Tongue is considered a visual gateway to the body.

The patient sticks their tongue out and the diagnostician shines light on it and assesses the creases, edges, dryness or wetness of the tongue. It is mainly the occurrence of coating and its colour in certain areas of the tongue that indicates to a disease in the given organ.

Tongue tells the diagnostician about imbalance in the body, informs them on the condition of physical organs in the body and on the body in general. Our tongue also reflects the condition of our nervous system and internal organs.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Tongue diagnostics is, together with e.g. acupuncture and acupressure, one of the oldest and most widespread diagnostic-treatment systems in the world. The roots of traditional Chinese medicine can be found in works older than 3,000 years. The traditional Chinese medicine approaches the man as a whole; it doesn't see the illness in an isolated way but views them in the context of the condition of the whole organism. Therefore, it doesn't only treat symptoms of diseases but also searches for causes of aches and problems. Subsequently, they treat and fix the entire body system.

Tongue DiagnosticsTherapy according to the Chinese medicine strives to bring the man into harmony of body and mind. It stems from the teaching on energies Yin and Yang which are present in all of the universe and each of its details. If these two principles are balanced, everything is in harmony. One of the important qualities of the Chinese medicine is its naturalness. It stems from natural laws and uses natural agents for treatment.

Treating helps on a natural basis and there are no artificially produced substances entering the body. These substances unnatural to our body may cause imbalance in it and they tend to have unforeseeable side effects which may rather cause damage and weaken us than help in the long-term perspective. Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on the overall lifestyle of its clients. Gradual changes and getting used to a modified way of life require patience and self-discipline, rewarded with high success rate and efficiency of the treatment.

History of Tongue Diagnostics

This type and method of diagnostics is one of the most valuable methods of the Chinese medicine. Its simplicity and relative immediacy are what make tongue diagnostics so valuable. It is also a great tool for a simple basic self-diagnosis on everyday basis. Such self-diagnostics may have significant influence on early detection and treatment of some conditions of the body and mind.

The history of tongue diagnostics in China has a tradition of more than 2,000 years. It is mentioned already in the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor; it is the oldest classic work on Chinese medicine from the period 2,700 years B.C. The medicine in China experienced a development jolt forward in the period when the Emperor' University of Medicine was founded, during the time of biggest advancement of Buddhism in this part of the world, i.e. in 600-900 B.C. The Emperor's University of Medicine supported application of acupuncture, herbal treatments and other methods. In this period and further on, many important works came to existence which address issues of tongue diagnostics. The period of the Republic of China saw a great decline of Chinese medicine; it was neglected all the way until 1949. Since the Republic of China was established, the healthcare system has undergone some improvements and the Chinese medicine has been enjoying its renaissance, even in relation to Western medicine. At present, there are new works on the tongue diagnostics being published.

Basic Elements of Tongue Diagnostics

The basic health condition of the client is determined according to their tongue vitality, clarity and colour. It is good when the tongue's colour is lively; if it's darkened or faded, it indicates trouble. Examining the root of the tongue is very important.

The tongue's body colour reflects the actual conditions of organs and blood.

The coat reflects the influence of hot or cold and current physical condition of the client. The thicker the coat, the stronger and more significant the pathogenic influences in the client's body. Location of the coat shows how far these pathogenic factors have gotten.

The condition of bodily fluids is reflected in the tongue's wetness.

Some Pathological Changes We May Observe on Tongue

Normal tongue colour is healthy pinkish; the tongue should have some or no coat, no pimples, warts or creases.


What does it mean?

Red tongue

Ischemia - restriction of blood supply to organs

Toxemia - organs poisoned with toxins


Severe pneumonia

Infectious diseases

Dark red tongue

Toxemia - organs poisoned with toxins

Infectious diseases

Kidney disorder


Bloodless pale tongue

Anemia - decreased amount of red blood cells

Sudden exhaustion

Blue tongue

Cardiovascular problem

Indication of imminent death

In pregnant women, it may indicate an impending miscarriage

Yellow colour in the back part of the tongue

One of hepatitis symptoms

Fungal or bacterial infection in the oral cavity

Coated Tongue

Substantial coat on the tongue occurs in various infectious diseases and in disorders of digestive-intestinal organs. There are also other types of changes we may discover on the tongue: pimples, creases, etc.

Coat on tongue or Type of change


White coat

Problems with stomach-intestine system

Black coat

Severe disorder in the digestive system but Beware: sometimes it may indicate excessive coffee consumption or excessive smoking

Mappy tongue

Chronic diseases in the stomach-intestine tract

Mental disorders

Deep transverse cracks

During strokes

Disposition to vascular disorders

Latent neuroses

Soft shiny tongue, papillaries closed

Chronic intestinal inflammation

Stomach cancer

Lack of vitamin B

Tongue tilting to one side or crooked

Disease of organs of a certain half of the body

Brain function disorder, e.g. during a stroke

Tongue Shape

The Chinese tongue diagnostics show that the tongue is as such as the diet the individual's mother used to eat in her pregnancy. The shape of tongue indicates health implications and physical stamina of the individual as well as of their mental abilities and skills.





A wide tongue with a round tip

Vegetable diet

Harmonious balanced development

Soft character, a person full of understanding

Narrow with a pointy tip

Animal diet

Propensity to not be flexible in terms of physical condition

Aggression, unpleasant behaviour

Split-tip tongue

Animal produce and raw vegetables

Oscillations in the physical development and condition

Indecisiveness, changing character

Flat tongue

Cereal and vegetables

Balanced condition and development, change only in case in these people used to eat like that at the time of their adolescence and development

The ability to harmonize with the environment, relative stability

Strong tongue

Animal produce, proteins and fats

Relatively balanced condition

Active character, but sometimes even aggressive and unpleasant.

Tongue Topography - Relations between Tongue Areas and Various Bodily Organs

In Chinese medicine, there is a general notion that some parts of the body are interrelated. Certain areas of the tongue reflect health of bodily organs or some body parts. The basic rules are: the tip of the tongue reflects the heart, the part between the tip and the centre reflects the lungs, the centre of the tongue reflects the stomach and spleen, tongue sides reflect liver and gall bladder, the root of the tongue reflects kidneys, small and large intestine and bladder.

The diagnostician then evaluates the colour of the tongue's "body". Its vitality and colour clarity may determine the health condition of the client. When the tongue's colour is lively, the prognosis is good. If the colour is dark and faded, the prognosis may be negative. In this sense, a meticulous examination of the tongue's root is essential. The colour of the tongue's body is the most important aspect in this context. It provides immediate and clear picture of the individual's current condition. It may also be a reliable indicator of origin of some emotional problems. An anxious person or a restless person has the entire tongue reddened, or has a red tip of the tongue. A pale tongue may indicate lack of the life energy and strength the Chinese call qi.

The diagnostician focuses on the tongue's colour but also on a tongue coat. Normal tongue should have a thin, white and slightly wet coat; thinnest on its edges and on the tip, slightly thicker towards the centre and even thicker at the root.

Children's Tongue

The younger the child, the more different their tongue is from the adult's tongue. These differences disappear when the child is seven to eight years old. Children's tongue paints a very clear picture of what problems is the child currently dealing with as children's tongues are not strained by gathered pathological conditions. A child's tongue is usually paler and wetter than in adults - it even changes colours faster. You will know for sure your child is ill when you discover red spots or dots on the tongue. The child must be treated until these symptoms and changes on the tongue disappear.

Tongue Diagnostics

It happens in children that administration of antibiotics ruins the tongue coat or make the coat peel off in places. Such missing or damaged coat points to damaged stomach. In such case, it is suitable to adjust the child's diet, put more vegetables and raw food in it, or even start herb treatment.

What Should A Healthy Tongue Look Like?

A healthy tongue should be lively and clear. The colour should be light red, healthily pinkish. A normal tongue should be flexible, not too limp and not too rigid. It should not have ruptures or pimples, warts or ulcers. When out of the mouth, it should not shake or swell or be too thin. Some coat on the tongue shows normal metabolism; but the coat must not be too thick. The coat is white, not yellowish or other colour. A normal tongue is moderately moist but not wet or overly dry.

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