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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Tongue Talk: What The Tongue Says About Overall Health

Dec 26, 2013 03:49PM ● By Dr. Sheryl Roe

In the early days of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), physicians needed a method to determine what was wrong with someone. While developing a method of diagnosis, they became aware that there was a direct correlation between emotions and physical symptoms and the two could not be separated.

They developed a system with five components: observation, auscultation, smelling, palpation and inquisition. Observation includes looking at the person as a whole; are their eyes bright or dull, does the patient make eye contact or only look at the floor? Auscultation means listening to the person; how does the voice sound, is there trouble talking, are deep breaths necessary before speaking? Smelling includes determining if there is a body odor or if odors come from things they have eaten or drunk. Palpation means touching the person; feeling the skin temperature and buoyancy. Inquisition, considered to be the most important of all, means asking how the patient feels; what the pain and sleep level is and what the patient has been eating.

When the TCM doctor looks at a patient’s tongue, he is looking at a map that has been developed over 5,000 years; it is the most important diagnostic observation. By looking at the tongue, the Chinese medicine physician can tell many things about the patient’s health. 

  • The tongue’s shape is a sign of the patient’s mental health.
  • The tongue’s body can indicate the circulation and body fluids.
  • The tongue’s color is read to consider the emotional components.
  • The tip of the tongue is considered the heart area; when it is red, it indicates anxiety, insomnia or possibly palpitations.
  • The sides of the tongue are the gallbladder liver area; swollen sides or sides that have a yellowish tinge indicate anger or frustration
  • The center of the tongue is the spleen or stomach area; thick coatings or dry cracks can indicate different kinds of depression or worry.
  • The very back of the tongue can be swollen or puffy indicating fear or uncontrollable worry.
  • The tongue’s coating shows how well the body is digesting the food and how those foods make the patient feel.

Dr Sheryl Roe is a board certified doctor of oriental medicine with offices in Navarre, Fort Walton Beach and Destin. For more information, call 850-225-3460 or visit

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