Chinese Medicine Tongue Diagnosis


Tongue Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine.

Ever wondered why your acupuncturist asks to see your tongue before your treatment?

The tongue provides us with valuable information that helps us correctly diagnose the root cause of whatever sickness or pain you are experiencing and how to treat it.

We look at the color, shape, texture, and thickness of the tongue and the coat.


Healthy Tongue


A normal healthy tongue is a light “fresh red” with a thin white tongue coat. It does not appear swollen, and there are no teeth marks along the sides of the tongue.


Common tongue diagnosis:


Deep Red: Means heat in the body. This heat can manifest in various ways, depending on the organ or body part involved. Heat can mean anger, emotions being trapped, pain, high blood pressure, etc. I also commonly see deep red tongues in menopausal women (think hot flashes).


Pale: Deficiency. This person is usually tired, weak, may have sleep and digestive problems.


Dark Red or Purple: Stagnation. This indicates that energy is not flowing smoothly in the body. This frequently occurs with pain.

Swollen Tongue: Dampness, this person is usually fatigued, easily sick, probably foggy-headed, digestive issues, easy weight gain.


Thick white tongue coat: This is an indication of cold and dampness in the body. Cold in the body can cause stomach cramps that get better when heat is applied. The thickness of the coat means there is dampness in the body, usually indicating poor digestion, loose stools, heavy feeling, and poor digestion.


Yellow tongue coat: This is a combo of heat and dampness in the body. I usually see this with excessive alcohol use, greasy take-out foods, poor digestion with loose, foul-smelling stools, or beginning stages of the flu.


Not only do we look at the color and coat, but we also look at where the color and coat are. Certain areas of your tongue correlate to different organ systems in the body.


Take a look at your tongue and see what you find!


See something you’re concerned with? Don’t freak out; it’s best to leave the diagnosis up to the Acupuncturist (it’s a pretty complex system).


Source: Giovanni Maciocia

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