Tongue diagnosis is a historically unique feature of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It originated about 2000 years ago and has been adopted into various other healing traditions. In fact, in TCM it is considered to be remarkably reliable – in complicated conditions, when other diagnostic features seem to be conflicting, the tongue is believed to nearly always reflect the true underlying nature of the disharmony.
In tongue diagnosis, special attention is paid to the tongue colour, shape, coating and moistness. A normal tongue is a uniform pale red colour, has a regular shape and margin, with no toothmarks on the edges. It isn’t swollen or shrunken and is stable and straight when extended out of the mouth. It should have a thin and uniform white coating. The tongue should be slightly moist. Any deviation from this norm indicates the nature of an imbalance in the body.
Different areas of the tongue also correspond to different organs of the body. The Heart, for example, is manifested in the tip of the tongue. A red and swollen tip of the tongue can therefore be an indication that something is awry with the Heart, and should be investigated further.
The information gleaned by examining someone’s tongue is combined with all the other clinical observations and tests to arrive at the most accurate diagnosis and course of treatment possible.