Tongue color varies widely from person to person, but is a good indicator of the overall nature of what is going on in the body. A red tongue indicates that there is heat present in the body, and the redder the tongue, the more heat present. A tongue that is pale indicates a deficiency of qi and blood or the presence of cold. A purple tongue tells your practitioner that there is stagnation somewhere in the body. Tongue color may also vary on different parts of the tongue. For example, a tongue that is red at the very tip indicates heat in the Heart, as the tip of the tongue correlates with conditions of the Heart. Just behind the tip corresponds to the Lungs; the sides of the tongue are associated with the Liver; the center of the tongue with the Spleen/Stomach or digestion; and the back of the tongue is associated with the condition of the Kidney.
1. Too red tongue
This indicates that the body has excessive heat. The body may have some of the following symptoms such as, body feels hot, easy to perspire, red face, takes time to fall asleep or vivid dreams, constipation, pungent dark stool, hunger (eats more), very emotional (easy to get anxious) or period comes earlier. Some may have the following disorders, hyperactive thyroid, high blood pressure or menopause.
2. Pale tongue
This indicates that your body has a lack of digestion, Qi and blood deficiency. You may have some of the following symptoms such as lack of energy, pale face, dizziness (especially upon standing), short of breath, sluggish bowel movement, bloating after eating, scanty period (one or two days), little or no milk production after labour. These people may also have the following disorders: low blood pressure, anemia or infertility/frequent miscarriage.
3. Purple/dark tongue
This indicates that the liver and heart have a functioning disorder and there maybe a lack of circulation with blood clots (you may have an old injury). Usually you may have the some of the following symptoms such as body aches/pain, joint, neck and shoulder stiffness and pain, chest pain, headaches or period pain with blood clots and brownish bleeding. These people may suffer the following disorders such as endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, migraine, arthritis.
4. Dry tongue
Dryness of the tongue is often caused by swelling of the salivary glands - the fleshy bulgy sacs under the tongue where saliva is produced. This is often caused by stress. Regulate stress by relaxation routines such as breathing or Taichi or Qigong.
Also, stimulate the flow of saliva and flush out the salivary ducts by drinking cider vinegar and lemon diluted in a glass of water. Persistant dryness could be caused by Sjorgren's syndrome - an immunological disorder. If your tongue is persistantly dry seek medical advice.
A dry furry tongue indicates excessive mucus in the body. This is caused by too much dairy and sugar in the blood. Eat a well-balanced diet and cut down on milk, butter and eggs.
5. Purple Tongue:A purple or red-purple tongue may arise with certain diseases but can also precede the development of a blue tongue. It should therefore be carefully monitored in acute cases to take note of whether more distinct blueness sets in. A purple tongue is uncommon compared to other discoloration of the tongue. It is more commonly seen with nutritional deficiencies and in particular with vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency. However, it is not a common symptom in ariboflavinosis. In TCM, a purple tongue indicates pathogenic heat, and blood stasis.
6. Blue Tongue
A bluish tongue is always considered to a be a serious sign that warrants medical attention. It is an important sign of cyanosis – a condition caused by an insufficient oxygen supply to tissue. The condition may be caused by blood disorders, diseased blood vessels, cardiac (heart) dysfunction or respiratory (lung and airway) insufficiency. This may include various conditions as discussed under the causes of cyanosis such as:
Acute respiratory distress
Airway obstruction, Asthmatic attacks, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Congenital heart disease
7. Black Tongue
A black discoloration of the tongue is rarely due to any disease. It frequently develops from birth or sometime during the course of life and tends to be permanent. However, sometimes there is a black discoloration of the tongue which may arise when the papillae become elongated giving the tongue a hairy feel. This condition is known as black, hairy tongue. More food debris collects than normal and there is an increase in the bacteria within the mouth. It usually develops as a yellow discoloration, which progresses to a brown and then black discoloration. Causes may include :
Regular use of certain medication including antibiotics and bismuth-containing drugs used for indigestion.
Certain types of mouthwash.
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