What Does Tongue Reveal About Health?

Tongue diagnosis is an important part of Eastern Medicine.  The tongue is unique in being an internal organ that can be exposed without surgical incision.  Just like the eyes, which are developed from an out-pouching of the central nervous system during embryonic development and thus associated with them, the tongue is connected with many organ systems.  Changes of tongue body and its color, coating, shape, movement and moisture level can reflect subtle changes from internal organs. 

Chinese have developed a sophisticated system to evaluate such changes to help diagnose functional disorders of the body, as well as determine their severity.  Learning about appearance changes of the tongue can help gain insight into your health to seek medical attention at early stages of diseases and formulate healthy diet to promote healthy living.

Below is a tongue diagram that illustrates areas of tongue in association with various organ systems.

Tongue Diagram
Healthy Tongue

Healthy tongue:

A healthy tongue is pink in color with thin white coating and evenly distributed moisture, no cracks or red spots, it is extended evenly out of mouth with no quivering movements or deviation to one side.

Red Tongue

Red colored tongue:

This type of tongue is usually dry.  It shows toxins (described as heat in Chinese medicine) build up in the system.  People with this type of tongue color usually have symptoms of short attention, impatience, dry skin, constipation, irritation, anxiety and insomnia, etc.

Tongue with Red Dard Spots

Tongue with red or dark points or spots:

Spots and points signify blood stagnation in the system.  Location of spots or points can reveal stagnation in associated channel or organ system.  Dark spots usually means more sever stagnation than red points.

Paled Tongue

Pale tongue:

When a tongue is a light pink color, it suggests anemia and blood deficiency, as well as hypothyroidism which has symptoms of fatigue, hair loss, broken nails, indifference, and lethargy.

Tongue with Thick Coating

Tongue with greasy thick coating:

It usually represents dampness, mucus congestion, bloating and poor appetite.  This type of tongue may be manifestation of yeast infection and complication of long-term use of antibiotics.  People may experience heavy body sensation.

Dry Cracked Tongue

Dry, cracked tongue:

Dehydration, or Yin deficiency (constant thirst that can't be relieved by drinking water, dry eyes and skin).  People may experience low libido with this type of tongue.

Scalloped Tongue

Scalloped tongue (tongue showing teeth marked edges):

|The common symptoms are low energy, fatigue, difficulty in speaking loud (especially towards the end of the day).  People with this type of tongue also tend to have trouble holding urine and stool.

Purple Tongue

Purple tongue:

It reveals poor circulation among various systems and usually suggests high viscosity of the blood. People with this type of tongue may indicate high risk factors for cardiovascular incidents in the future if not treated early.


The above description is a general summary of tongue diagnosis basics in Chinese medicine.  To learn more about your specific tongue condition and its health implications, please contact us for a free consultation.


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