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Tongue Talk

Alternative Approaches


For those of you who appreciate the aspects of alternative therapies, we have included this section, based largely on Eastern medicine. It is meant to serve as both a resource for you and a means to show traditionalists that there could be some truth to this approach. We have open minds here at TongueTown.


This view asserts that the tongue can be used to evaluate one's overall condition, or perhaps even affect change to conditions such as pregnancy. The Japanese term Zetsu Shin is an important forms of diagnosis in Chinese medicine. Two basic aspects are considered in tongue diagnosis.


The structure of the tongue is the first. Is it wide, narrow, thick, thin, pointed, rounded or a combination of these? The structural characteristics convey information concerning someone’s basic constitution and overall strengths and weaknesses of body and mind.

  • A wide tongue mirrors an overall balanced physical and psychological disposition.
  • An extremely wide tongue reflects a generally loose and expanded physical condition and a tendency toward more psychological concerns.
  • A narrow tongue reveals a lack of physical adaptability with pronounced strengths and weaknesses. Mentally, thinking may be sharp but tend toward a rather myopic point of view.
  • A thin tongue demonstrates a tendency to be more gentle and laid back.
  • A thick tongue reflects a tendency to be assertive or aggressive.
  • A rounded tip expresses a flexible yet firm physical and mental disposition.
  • A pointed tip communicates a tight, perhaps even rigid physical condition with an aggressive and often offensive mentality.
  • A very wide tip reflects an overall weakness of the physical body and a limp, nerveless mentality that is often out of touch with reality.
  • A divided tip mirrors physical and mental imbalances with the potential of sharp fluctuations in thinking and mood. This would include iatrogenic (self-induced) bifurcated tongues.

While structure relates to personality traits, the condition of the tongue is influenced primarily by an individual’s lifestyle and current state of health.

  • A dark red surface reveals inflammation.
  • A white surface indicates stagnation of blood, fat and mucus deposits or a weakness in the blood leading to such conditions as anemia.
  • A yellow appearance expresses a disorder of the liver and gallbladder, resulting in an excess secretion of bile. It also could indicate deposits of animal fats, especially in the middle organs of the body; and possible inflammation.
  • A blue or purple area indicates stagnation of blood circulation and a serious weakening of the part of the digestive system that corresponds to the area of the tongue where the color appears.

In addition to these surface colors, the underside of the tongue can also be used to determine the internal condition. Generally, the colors and their indications listed above are the same, with the following exceptions:

  • An excess of blue or green reflects disorders in the blood vessels and in blood quality and circulation.
  • An excess of purple reflects disorders of the lymphatic and circulatory system. It indicates a weakening of the immune ability and of the blood vessels.
  • A swollen or enlarged tongue reveals a Jitsu, or full state.
  • A shriveled or withered-looking tongue indicates a Kyo, or empty state.

The flexibility of the tongue also reflects the condition of the digestive system.

  • A flexible, supple, smoothly moving tongue reflects the same in the digestive system
  • A stiff, tense, or inflexible tongue indicates an inflexible digestive system.
  • A loose tongue warns of loose bowels.
  • A  tongue with a pronounced slant to the left or right when it is extended reveals a misaligned digestive system.

Projections of the tongue's surface indicate the discharge of fat, protein, and sugar. Where in the body this discharge is coming from can be determined by the specific area of the tongue on which it appears.

Another significant aspect considered in tongue diagnosis is the coating or “moss”, as it is called in Chinese medicine, on the tongue's surface.

The guidelines above concerning the aspects of location and color can also be used for a general understanding of the different qualities of coating found on the tongue. They are particularly useful when fasting, cleansing or during illness.


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