Commonly Seen Tongues
I see a lot of tongues indicating digestive problems. A consequence of poor eating habits (eating late at night, eating in a hurry, eating while working) and poor diet. A typical Chinese diagnosis is Stomach Yin Deficiency in these cases. Such people need to avoid fried foods, hot spices, caffeinated drinks and alcohol, which have a drying effect, besides reviewing their eating habits. The symptoms of this pattern include constipation, dry mouth and throat, and thirst.
When the Chinese Stomach is not functioning correctly there is no coating on the tongue (I say Chinese Stomach as the functions and pathology are broader than our understanding of the stomach organ). There are some intermediate stages before reaching a full-blown deficiency though. At the beginning the coat will look as if it is resting on the tongue and not connected and then as this develops a tongue will start to lack a coating in patches.
This is a tongue with a patchy coating.
Another sign of stomach disharmony is a Stomach crack (or cracks) on the tongue. However, Stomach cracks may indicate a constitutional tendency to digestive upsets rather than the actual pathology.
The tongues below illustrate Stomach cracks.
This final tongue shows an extreme form of Stomach heat developing from the redness of the tongue. As you can see, this is in addition to lacking a coat and cracks.
The signs of the tongue must be taken together with all others as part of the initial consultation. The tongue can sometimes contradict other signs and symptoms, so in Chinese Medicine, we must have a number of signs to establish a firm diagnosis.
Obviously, any treatment in this case must include also a change in eating habits. This can be the most difficult aspect of the treatment for people to follow. I offer home care advice about foods that such clients should eat more or less of based on Chinese Medical principles. However, these can be difficult to follow without support and so often I will refer such clients to a nutritionist.
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