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Do You Have a Healthy Tongue? Understanding Its Role as a Health Indicator

Deep dive into the role your tongue plays in helping you identify your state of health. Find out if you have a healthy tongue!

A woman wearing a blue and white flannel shirt and a white t-shirt sticking out her tongue on a pink background

Have you ever been in a situation where you can feel something is off with your health, but you don’t know exactly what it is and which part of your body it stems from? One of the many ways to identify it can be as simple as checking the condition of your tongue and see if you have a healthy tongue.

healthy tongue is representative of a person’s good health. This Traditional Chinese Medicine’s belief is based on the notion that the tongue is connected to all organs in the body through energy pathways called meridians. Use this guide to determine if you are in the pink of health or otherwise.

Diagnosing Health Through Tongue Colour

The tongue is divided into individual regions that are linked to different internal organs. A change of colour can be a tell-tale of a problem with or associated with a specific organ. 

A pale tongue

Illustration of a person sticking out a pale tongue
A pale tongue is indicative of blood, qi or yang energy deficiencies.

Tongue paleness indicates a blood, qi or yang energy deficiency. Some of the symptoms linked to these deficiencies include a pallid appearance, breathlessness, fatigue and frequent occurrences of cold limbs. 

Consuming a traditional Chinese remedy formulated with ‘cracked’ Lingzhi spores is recommended for replenishing qi and blood in the body whilst regulating the immune system. This concoction can also be used to improve the effects of a cough. 

A pink-coloured tongue

Illustration of a person sticking out a pink tongue
A pink tongue represents good health.

A tongue that appears pink when checked is characteristic of a healthy body. 

A purple-coloured tongue

Illustration of a person sticking out a purple-coloured tongue
Impaired blood circulation can cause a person’s tongue to appear purple.

A purple tongue suggests qi stagnation and blood stasis — improper circulation of blood in the body. The symptoms of qi stagnation and blood stasis include localised, sharp pain or palpable masses underneath the skin of the abdominal region. 

Drinking a herbal soup prepared with red dates, Chinese Angelica root, goji berries and root of the Chinese fleece flower can promote healthy blood circulation and improve conditions like anaemia or cold hands and feet.

A red-coloured tongue

Illustration of a person sticking out a dark, red-coloured tongue
Extreme body heatiness will cause a person’s tongue to appear crimson red.

A tongue that appears red describes a yin deficiency or excess heat in the body. This deficiency can cause a person to feel feverish or restless and experience constipation. In certain cases, a person may also experience a dry throat or rapid pulse. 

On the other hand, a crimson red tongue can describe intense internal heatiness due to a yin deficiency. This can cause a person to experience dry mouth, constipation, fever, night sweats, and a strong and rapid pulse. Taking a health supplement formulated with sea salt, Strychnine tree, and wild yam extracts helps relieve bloating, bowel disorders and constipation. 

Diagnosing Health Through the Colour and Texture of Tongue Coating

A doctor checking a senior patient's tongue using a tongue depressor
Tongue coating gives clues to your health.

Like tongue colour, the texture of a tongue coating can also tell a person if they are experiencing a health disorder. Before we deep dive into the importance of a tongue coat, it is essential to note that a yellow or white coating is symbolic of cold and heat, or cold turning to heat. Alternatively, a longitudinally half-white and half-yellow coating is particularly indicative of heat in the liver and gallbladder. 

A white coating

Although a thin white coat is normal, a powder-like coating is descriptive of an external pathogenic cold. If left untreated, it can turn into a yellow coating. By contrast, a snow-like coating suggests spleen yang exhaustion and damp cold in the middle jiao (spleen and stomach).

A yellow coating

A slightly yellow coat commonly links to wind-heat – the more intense the yellow, the more severe the heat. On the contrary, a dirty, yellow coat may indicate damp heat in the stomach and intestines. The best way to do away with damp-heat is to consume a herbal concoction made of Chinese pearl barley seeds.  

A greyish black coating

A tongue coating that presents as greyish black indicates an advanced or prolonged illness. In addition, a dry coating is symbolic of excess internal heat, whereas a moist coating means cold and damp stagnation. 

Alternatively, if a tongue coating is completely black, it is indicative of extreme cold or heat. If the tongue also is pale, it could mean that a person is experiencing extreme cold due to a yang deficiency.

A pink tongue is a healthy tongue and a sign of overall wellness. Adopting healthy practices that regulate qi levels and ensure yin and yang balance is vital for staying healthy and preventing the onset of health disorders due to excess heat or cold in the body.

This is an adaptation of an article, “Tales Tongues Tell”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website. 

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