Tongue Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine by Giovanni MaciociaExamination of the tongue, like the pulse, is one of the principal diagnostic methods in traditional Chinese medicine. This book--newly revised in 1995--systematically describes each of the primary characteristics of the tongue (body color, shape and coating) and their significance in the clinic. It traces the historical development of tongue diagnosis and its relationship to externally- contracted disorders and the eight principals. Featured in this revised edition are 59 color plates and accompanying case histories from the authors own practice. Other aspects of tongue diagnosis newly described in this edition include the integration of tongue and pulse diagnosis; the use of the tongue in diagnosing emotional problems; tongue diagnosis and herbal treatment; the tongue in prognosis; and special considerations regarding tongue diagnosis in children.
Your Tongue: Why It's So Important in Chinese Medicine
As we discussed in our Secrets of Pulse Diagnosis post , tongue diagnosis is another primary method in Chinese Medicine for understanding what is happening inside the human body. As with the pulse, there are general qualities of the tongue that show how the body is doing on a macro level, and specific qualities that zoom in on particular organ systems of the body. These will be described in more detail below. Over time, Chinese medicine has observed that certain parts of the tongue relate to certain parts of the body. Here are some of the most typical examples. One of the benefits of tongue diagnosis is the ability to help us make a differential diagnosis, which identifies the cause of a particular symptom. For example, if someone has low back pain, that pain could be caused by a number of different factors.
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Photo by Stocksy. In Chinese medicine, the tongue is used as a very influential source for diagnosis, as it's the only external organ of the body with visual indicators. We look at the tongue to measure various factors; we look to see the shape, quality, texture, coating, and color of the tongue because of its many relationships and connections in the body and the internal organs. Given its simple and noninvasive nature, tongue diagnosis is becoming a preliminary screening procedure in early detection even in the Western world. It's an exciting step toward bridging the gap between the East and the West especially because it's another awesome and simple tool that can tell you a lot about health, even when it comes to looking at life-threatening diseases like cancer.
The tongue has many relationships and connections in the body, both to the meridians and the internal organs. It is therefore very useful and important during inspection for confirming TCM diagnosis.
black girl with green eyes
Getting a Big Picture View
Example 1. A Reddish-Purple tongue body colour usually indicates Blood stasis deriving from or associated with Heat whereas a Bluish-Purple colour generally indicates Blood stasis deriving from Cold. In this case, the tongue colour is consistent over the whole tongue so we cannot determine from the tongue alone where the Blood stasis is located. The pulse and the symptoms can tell us this. However, the most likely pattern is that of Liver-Blood stasis. The tongue body is also Swollen which indicates the presence of Phlegm. The Lung and Heart areas of the tongue are especially swollen which points towards the fact that the Phlegm is predominantly in the Upper Burner.
I am a year-old man. For many years, I have had a white coating on my tongue. Every day before I sleep, I brush my teeth and sometimes use mouth wash. In the morning after I wake up, there is a white coating on my tongue. I have bought a tongue scraper from the pharmacy to scrape away the coating. That removed some of it but my tongue is still not red or clean.