Long-term stress takes its toll on both our emotional health and our physical bodies. Did you know that practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine use the condition of your tongue to gauge your general health and pinpoint specific problems?
It’s true. Infections, stress, medication issues, and aging can all mark and mar a normal tongue.
Chronic tension impacts the following important bodily systems:
Overall constitution, imbalances of yin (cold) or yang (hot) energies, the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food, digestive state, and emotional state are all reflected in the tongue’s outward appearance.
Stick out your tongue and say ahhhhh in front of a mirror to see if your tongue has a normal appearance. Ideally, it will be a healthy pink color with a thin white coating, neither thin nor swollen, with no quivering or lolling to one side or the other.
The back of the tongue indicates the health of your kidney, bladder, and intestine.
The tip of the tongue shows heart health.
Just behind the tip of the tongue is a band that links to lung condition.
The middle section of the tongue displays the condition of the stomach and spleen.
The right and left sides both reveal liver and gallbladder health.
Stress has a negative impact on the human heart, liver, and gallbladder (mapped to the tip and sides of the tongue).
Redness may be a sign of prolonged stress. Purple is often a sign of stagnant energy in the body parts associated with the corresponding region of the tongue.
There is no magic pill you can take to relieve stress. Instead, look at changing your lifestyle. Relax, rest, and sleep more. Exercise regularly. Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet and avoid junk/fast foods.
Many people find that regular acupuncture treatments are great for stress reduction and increased bodily energy flow.
Following are five common tongue conditions and what they might be telling you about your health. This is important when considering whether or not to book a healthcare appointment.
- White Patches
White patches or creamy white spots might be a medical malady known as oral thrush or candidiasis (kan-dih-DIE-uh-sis). Candida albicans is a fungus which exists normally inside your mouth. Sometimes, a bacterial imbalance inside your body causes this fungus to multiply abnormally and develop into lesions on the lining of your mouth, inner cheeks, and tongue.
Left unchecked, thrush can spread to the roof of your mouth, gums or tonsils or the back of your throat.
Babies and older adults with reduced immunity are more likely to contract thrush, as are people with specific health conditions or people who take certain medications.
Lacy white patches may signal the presence of lichen planus, an indicator that your immune system is waging war on the tissues inside your mouth.
Hard, flat, white areas that you can’t scrape away might be leukoplakia, which is linked to cancer.
Consult with your dentist about any white patches you spot inside your oral cavity to prevent further complications.
- Tongue “Hair”
Fur belongs on the outside of animals, not coating the tongue with a mat of black, brown or white hair-like growths. These hairy growths are actually proteins that transform normally small bumps on the surface of the tongue into longer strands which trap food and bacteria.
If you can’t scrape off this tongue “hair” and it is white in color, you might have oral hairy leukoplakia, which is associated with infectious viruses such as Epstein-Barr or HIV.
- Black Tongue
A black tongue may be a type of tongue hair or it might be the harmless result of downing an antacid that contains bismuth. Mixed with saliva, bismuth can turn a tongue black. Yuck. Fortunately, this alarming coloration goes away after you stop taking the antacid.
- Bright Red Tongue
Kawasaki disease is rare but it is a serious ailment that inflames blood vessels all over the body, especially in children. A tongue that is red and looks like the skin of a strawberry can indicate Kawasaki disease or scarlet fever.
A red tongue that is smooth and painful might be a sign that you have a vitamin B3 deficiency. Supplements and foods high in this important vitamin can help correct the dietary imbalance.
- Burning Tongue
A normal tongue doesn’t burn. That generally only happens when you drink a beverage or eat some food that is over-heated. A tongue that feels scalded and tastes bitter or metallic could be a condition known as burning tongue.
Infections, acid reflux, diabetes, and dry mouth can provoke burning tongue, as can highly acidic foods such as pineapple or candy, chewing gum, mouthwash or toothpaste.
When in doubt, check it out. Your tongue doesn’t lie – so pay attention to it.