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Stick out your tongue….

Talking Tongues Feature

It used to be that we got asked to do this at every doctors visit (doesn’t happen as much anymore).  But what you may not have known is that this practice has roots that are more than 5000 years old.  And to this day, ayurvedic doctors, practitioners and consultants are still very interested in having a peek at your tongue in order to get a better idea of what you’re not telling them!

Your tongue can indicate everything from what your dosha is, to what you had for breakfast this morning (if you look real close!).  So it’s really important to get sense for your baseline (i.e. what your tongue naturally looks like) so that when an imbalance shows up, you can recognize it pretty quickly.  Here’s  quick look at what your tongue might look like depending on your dosha…

tongue constitution

What to pay attention to

Okay so there are four key indicators to look for when you look at your tongue that will give you a sense for what’s going on.  They are…

Color (Key Indicator)

A healthy tongue is pale red in color.


A healthy tongue body is evenly shaped smooth textured and not too thick or too thin


A healthy tongue is coated with a thin, white and moist coating.

Veins(under the tongue)

Healthy sublingual veins are barely visible or not visible at all.


What to look out for

Red color

Can indicate heat in the body and potentially emotional disturbances if the tip of the tongue is red

Thick white coating

Can indicate the presence of ama or toxins.  The location of which will correspond to where on the tongue the coating is thickest.

Scalloped shape/teeth marks around the edge of the tongue

Indicates issues related to the absorption and assimilation of nutrients.

Cracks in the tongue

Vata imbalances, dryness, issues related to the nervous system.

Midline cracks or crevices

Indication of issues in the spine and or emotional issues.

Additional Signs of Imbalance…

Signs of Vata imbalance


Signs of Pitta imbalance

Signs of Kapha Imbalance


So the most important take away is again, to check out your tongue every day and just take notice of how it changes from day to day and month to month.  Also be sure to scrape your tongue every morning to get the gunk off (a few good scrapes from the back to the front with a stainless steel or copper tongue scraper is best!).

Tongue diagnosis is a fascinating subject and is in many ways a part of the art of getting to know yourself!

Notice anything on your tongue that you don’t see here?  Got any questions about tongue diagnosis that haven’t been answered?Let me know in the comments below (or send me a private message!).

Images/diagrams: Ayurvedic Tongue Diagnosis William “shantree” Kycera D.N. Ph.D

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