Did you know…that your tongue can reveal powerful secrets about your health, including the presence of infection and other health threats?
In the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), “stick out your tongue” has nothing to do with the doctor wanting to see your tonsils.
The appearance of the tongue is one of the measures used in TCM to classify the status of a patient’s physical body, or zheng. A trained eye can read the tongue for information about a patient’s nutritional state (including potential deficiencies)…possible infections…and even likely health challenges.
Thousands of years of experience and observation in China have proven that tongue diagnosis is a valuable tool for improving health.
East Meets West with New Software Tongue Analysis Tool
Brand-new software developed by researchers at the University of Missouri shows that by combining this ancient health practice with modern technology, tongue diagnosis may become an even more valuable and accessible health tool for the public.
According to an article in Science Daily, the software “analyzes images based on the tongue’s color and coating to distinguish between tongues showing signs of ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ zheng. Shades of red and yellow are associated with hot zheng, whereas a white coating on the tongue is a sign of cold zheng.”
Hot and cold zheng do not refer literally to body temperature. Instead, these concepts are associated with constellations of symptoms related to state of the body as a whole.
Your Tongue Diagnosis Can Provide Warnings to See a Doctor
Dong Xu helped develop the tongue diagnosis software and he co-authored a study of its accuracy. “Our software helps bridge Eastern and Western medicine,” says Xu, “since an imbalance in zheng could serve as a warning to go see a doctor. Within a year, our ultimate goal is to create an application for smartphones that will allow anyone to take a photo of their tongue and learn the status of their zheng.”
Xu and his colleagues conducted a study to assess the accuracy of their software. They enrolled 263 gastritis patients and 48 healthy volunteers.
• All subjects had their tongues analyzed.
• The gastritis patients were classified by whether they showed infection by a certain bacteria, known as Helicobacter pylori, and by the intensity of their gastritis symptoms.
Additionally, most of the gastritis patients in the study were already classified with either hot or cold zheng, and therefore researchers were able to confidently verify the accuracy of their software.
The study has been accepted for publication in the journal Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Reading the Tongue Without Technology
“The shape, color, and movement of the tongue body, and the color and texture of the coating are all indicative of body function and pathology,” says Maoshing Ni, DOM, PhD, LAC, author of Secrets of Self Healing and a licensed acupuncturist.
Important notes Xu points out include the following…
- A healthy person should possess a pink tongue body with very little coating.
- A red tongue usually signals hyper-functioning (an over-reactive system, prone to agitation, fast metabolism and overheating).
- A pale tongue signals hypo-functioning (an under-reactive immune system, prone to lethargy, slow metabolism, and over-cooling).
- A tongue with a yellow coating usually indicates the presence of a bacterial infection elsewhere in the body.
- A tongue with a white coating can be a sign of a fungal infection/mucus condition that sometimes leads to thrush.
Trained professionals evaluate many other factors in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Plus, tongue’s appearance can be affected by many non-health related factors, as well, including food consumed recently, your age, the time of day, and the season of the year.
The Core of Tongue Analysis: Mapping the Meridians
Traditional Chinese Medicine relies on the concept of energy channels, or meridians, and tongue analysis is no exception. According to Dr. Ni, different parts of the tongue are associated with different body systems and organs:
- The tip of tongue corresponds with the heart.
- The area just behind the tip of the tongue corresponds with the lungs.
- The center of tongue corresponds with the spleen and stomach.
- The back of tongue corresponds with the kidney, bladder, and intestines.
- The sides of tongue (from front to back) correspond with the liver and gallbladder.
Changes in color, coating, appearance, etc., are reflective of issues in the corresponding organs. Dr. Ni says, “Extensive research in modern-day China has confirmed this ancient knowledge.”
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