The tongue is thought of as a map to the rest of the body, divided into regions representing the health of 5 corresponding internal organ systems: liver, lung spleen, heart and kidney. TCM theory suggests all the body’s organs support each other and therefore must be in balance for optimal health. A change in color or texture could indicate a problem in or around the corresponding organ. A “normal” tongue is pale red with a thin white and slightly moist coat, it doesn’t have any cracks, spots, marks or ulcers, although everyone’s tongue is unique!
A few examples of an underlying problem: a red tongue may indicate heat in the body suggesting hormonal imbalance leading to hot flashes and temperature changes. A pale tongue is a sign of a deficiency, common where the immune system is weak. A very thin tongue could indicate dehydration and a thick coating reflects poor gut health. So next time you acupuncturist asks you to stick out your tongue don’t be alarmed, it’s just normal practice!