Why do you want to see my tongue?

Why do you want to see my tongue?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the tongue can reflect a great deal of what is going on in the body.  For example, a pale tongue indicates a deficiency of sorts.  Makes sense, right?.  There is a lot more going on though.  From the color of the tongue body, color and thickness of the coating (thickness, color, location), tongue shape, and features (like spots and cracks) each part tells a part of the story of your health. Acupuncture uses tongue diagnosis as just one of many tools to develop a treatment plan.  You can in fact receive an acupuncture treatment for as little as this (plus a few questions for safety reasons).  See if you could use more acupuncture in your life by grabbing a mirror and following along below.

Color of the tongue body

Pink – Normal or mild condition

Purple – A reddish purple indicates heat and blood stagnation, while a light purple or bluish purple indicates cold and blood stagnation

Pale – blood or Qi deficiency, if also swollen and wet-yang deficiency

Red – heat, if no coating- empty heat, if yellow coating- excess heat, if wet-damp heat

Dark Red – severe heat


Thin – Normal or exterior condition

Thick – Excess: dampness, phlegm, or food stagnation

Dry – Heat exhausting yin

Wet – Dampness

White – Cold

Yellow – Heat

Rootless (appears floating) – Spleen/Stomach Qi deficiency

Peeled – Spleen Qi deficiency, yin deficiency

Tongue shape

Swollen – Indicates either an excess or deficient condition

Swollen Sides – Liver heat, or Liver yang rising

Swollen Tip – Heart fire or Heart Qi deficiency

Hammer Shaped (front third enlarged) – Usually a more serious condition, often mental condition, indicates Kidney, Stomach, and Spleen deficiency

Thin – Can indicate Qi and blood deficiency, if thin and red- yin deficient heat

Stiff – Excess condition, usually involves internal wind

Flaccid – Yin, Qi, blood deficiency


Teeth marks (scalloped) – Spleen Qi deficiency, if also pale and wet- Spleen yang deficiency

Cracks – (depends on location and tongue color) If from root to tip-Heart crack indicating HT or emotional disorder, if horizontal cracks- yin deficiency

Red Spots – Heat and or toxins relating to location of spots