Tongue diagnosis is one of many tools acupuncturists use to access the health of patients. Many people have a combination of patterns occurring at the same time, making diagnosis more complicated. First we will look at the tongue body then the tongue coating.
This tongue to “v” shaped and juts out forcefully. The tension in the tongue is indicative of the tension held in the body. It is a sign of Liver excess (Liver Qi Stagnation or Fire). Possible symptoms include muscle tension, stress, irritability, depression, and PMS. If the tongue veers to one side this indicates Liver Wind and potentially stroke or convulsions.
Also known as a enlarged or fat tongue. This indicates Phlegm and is a sign of congestion of body fluids. Phlegm is implicated in many modern diseases including sinus or lung congestion, excess weight, irrational thinking, obsessive thoughts, fatigue, foggy thinking, chronic joint pain, high cholesterol, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and channel blockages.
A tongue that is smaller than normal indicates a deficiency of substance in the body, namely Blood Deficiency or Yin Deficiency. Common symptoms include anxiety, restlessness, tinnitis, insomnia, night sweats, and female hormone deficiency.
Teeth marks on the sides of the tongue indicates Spleen Qi Deficiency. This can present as weak digestion, food allergies, fatigue, poor muscle tone, a tendency to bruise, low immunity, and organ prolapse.
Pallor indicates Cold or Deficiency (Qi, Blood, and/or Yang).
Purple or bluish indicates Blood Stagnation.
Red Tip The very tip of the tongue corresponds to the Heart. A red tip indicates Heart Heat, or emotional unrest. This can manifest as stress, anxiety, or insomnia. If the tip has a cleft it indicates longstanding or constitutional tendency towards emotional issues.
Thick White Coat
A thick tongue coating indicates Dampness. This is a pathological accumulation of fluids associated with digestive impairment. Common signs include weight gain, abdominal bloating, cloudy urination, mucous in the stools, edema, excessive vaginal discharge, poor digestion, and loose stools.
Thin Yellow Coat
The coating is thin, but distinctly yellow. This indicates Heat, either internal or Wind Heat (pathogenic invasion).
Thick Yellow Coat
The tongue appears heavily coated and yellow. This indicates Damp Heat, the combination of Dampness and Heat (fluid accumulation mixed with inflammation). Commons symptoms include excess weight, feeling hot, anger, Liver/Gallbladder issues, and red weepy skin conditions.
Scanty or Mirrored Coat
The tongue looks shiny, like liver. This indicates Yin Deficiency and the patient may present with insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, thirst, low back pain, tinnitis, hot flashes, and night sweats.
Common Combination Patterns: