Check Your Tongue!
Every morning when you wake up, check your tongue. If you have a tongue scraper, scrape it a few times to get the night time slop off of it. After that, look again. If it is pink you are doing great! Our entire digestive system is reflected on the tongue. It’s the quickest way to see what’s happening on our insides! But you have to know what to look for – so I’ll carry on.
If you see a whitish coating, that is a sign of ama, which means there are toxins in the digestive system. We can get ama for a number of reasons, but mainly because we have weak agni. Agni is our digestive fire and there is plenty that we can do during our daily routine to keep agni strong.
There are different degrees of ama. Ama can show up on our tongue simply because we had a big meal the night before and we are not done digesting it yet! Our biggest screw up is when we eat breakfast because we think we should and then we pile more food on the undigested food, creating a big pile of maldigested goo, which creates yet more ama. Bleh. SO! The best thing we can do when we see that our tongue is white is to fast. We have to let our body catch up to the food we put in it and the only way it can do that is if we don’t give it any more food.
I don’t mean a crazy fast for days. I mean, sipping ginger (or herbal, but ginger is best because it aids digestion) tea and not eating until our tongue turns mostly pink again. It could be a full day or even a couple hours, but let your body catch up. If you try it, I think you will find it fun to watch! When you are really hungry, I bet your tongue will be nice and pink. Try it!
Besides a white coating, there are other things we can look for on our tongue. If there is redness, it can indicate that there is too much heat in the body and that maybe our digestion is TOO hot, therefore burning the food before it gets absorbed to become nutrients. If there are cracks on the tongue, that means a vata derrangement which could be dehydration or not enough oils in the diet. If the tongue is shakey, that is a sign of anxiety and/or fear. If there are little teeth marks on the side, it’s a sign of ama in the colon and/or unabsorbed nutrients.
For more tongue diagrams and other fun stuff, there is a book by Dr. Lad called Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing. It’s a good crash course. Or you can send me pictures of your tongue and we can have a field day. Tally ho!