WE'VE all had the experience of waking up with a fuzzy tongue after a night on the booze – and for most people morning breath is a given.
But if you're tongue is bumpy, puffy and you can't seem to shift your bad breath, then it might be trying to tell you something about your overall health.
Tongue reading has been used for more than 2,000 years to diagnose health problems.
In Chinese medicine it's thought your tongue is the window to your inner health, experts in the practise, Emilia Herting and Maeve O'Sullivan explained.
They said every person's tongue is unique and has distinct characteristics.
"The tongue is a microcosm of the entire body, and by looking at the shape, colour, coating and texture, you are able to see any excess and deficiencies in the body," the pair said.
As well as tongue reading, experts at Brushd said using tools such as tongue scrapers can help with your oral health and hygiene.
They explained: "By collecting and removing bacteria and residue left on your tongue after brushing, scrapers can help you maintain a healthy tongue and keep your breath fresh."
So, what exactly is tongue reading, and what can it diagnose?
There are four key parts to tongue reading, Emilia and Maeve said – shape, coating, colour and texture.
They said: "These can show us any imbalances and digestive issues in the body to help us confirm diagnosis and treatment."
And they said different parts of the tongue, correspond to different parts of the body.
The tip can reveal clues about your heart and lungs, while the centre can hint at tummy troubles.
The sides tell us about the liver and gallbladder, while the back is linked to the kidney, bladder and intestines, it's claimed.
Emilia and Maeve said that the tongue is a "mirror of the body's digestive system" – so can reflect food intolerances and sensitivities, gut problems, toxin levels, weak digestion and more.
What does your tongue say about you?
When you're doing your own tongue reading, make sure you're looking at it in good, natural light and that your tongue is relaxed.
Next, have a look at this chart to see which tongue most closely resembles your own. Note your tongue's shape, colour, coating and texture.
1. Tongue shape
- If the tongue is puffy with teeth marks it indicates a lack of nutrients and moisture. There could be blood stagnation and toxic buildup in the body as well.
- A very thin tongue could indicate dehydration or that a chronic condition has left the body severely depleted.
2. Tongue coating
- A thick coating might be indicative of poor gut health.
- A thin coating is normal, but a very thin or absent tongue coating means a lack of body fluids, or it could be a sign that the body is being taxed greatly.
- A yellow coating signals heat and/or infection in the body.
- A grey or black coating indicates that something is very wrong with the body’s health.
- A thick white coating means there is cold in the body, likely poor circulation and possibly a yeast infection.
3. Tongue colour
- A red tongue may indicate heat in the body, such as a fever or a hormonal imbalance that is leading to hot flushes or temperature changes.
- A purple tongue is a sign that the circulatory system is backed up, perhaps from a major injury or pain condition. There may also be inflammation or infection in the body.
- A pale tongue is a sign of a deficiency or a lack of energy. This is common with anaemia or after a long-standing disease where the immune system is weak.
4. Tongue texture
- A bump on top of the tongue could be a warning of bacterial or viral infection or of an allergic reaction to a food or medication.
- Canker sores more often pop up on the underside of the tongue, and can be identified by a round, red border and yellow or white centre.
- A white or grey sore with a hard surface that feels thick and raised from the tongue could be leukoplakia, a disorder of the mucous membranes caused by irritation from dentures, crowns, fillings, or tobacco use.
- Map-like patches: If you spot patchy lesions on the tongue that seem to change location from day to day, you may have a harmless but sometimes uncomfortable condition called geographic tongue.
- Wrinkled: A tongue that bears grooves or wrinkles could be scrotal tongue, a harmless condition but this can make it difficult to keep the tongue properly clean.
A sore or lump on one side of the tongue could be a sign of cancer and needs to be checked by a doctor.
- Any burning, intense pain, loss of sensation, or inability to move the tongue properly should be looked at by a doctor as soon as possible.
"It's important to know the signs and symptoms of your imbalance, what your deficiency means and how you can be treated," Emilia and Maeve explained.
"Each imbalance can be treated with a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle."
If you think something is wrong, it goes without saying that you're best off making an appointment to see your GP.
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