Skip to main content

Tongue Diagnosis in Oriental Medicine


This is the first in a series of articles explaining the theories, the herbal formulas and diagnostic tools used in Oriental Medicine to heal. The medical application of tongue diagnosis is very old.  The earliest records are inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells unearthed during the Yi Dynasty; the first dynasty of the Bronze Age. Ancient Chinese physicians developed a special way of approaching the diagnosis of diseases through four types pf physical examination:  inspection, questioning, smelling, and listening.  In addition to taking the pulse, palpation of the abdomen, and tongue diagnosis an inspection of the features of the tongue to aid in disease diagnosis were very important.

Tongue diagnosis plays a most important role in the four methods of TCM diagnosis.  Many ancient doctors regarded the tongue as the “window of the Heart”, also the location for external expression of the digestive system.  Many main acupuncture meridians are connected to the tongue, making it an important site for diagnostic examination.  All internal changes in the body, visceral deficiencies or excess, weather disease conditions are mild or advanced, weather body fluids are full or deficient, weather the Qi (energy) or blood are healthy or in decline, can be objectively reflected by the changes on the tongue.

Some of the clinical applications of the tongue are as follows: 
The tongue has two aspects the coating and the body.  The coating reflects the amount of Qi (energy) activity in the body as it relates to the exterior of the body, cold and flu, and the digestive system.  If there is a pathogen of environmental toxin attacking the body the coating becomes thicker. Moreover, if there is stagnation in the digestive system the coating will also appear thicker.  A thick coating on the tongue indicates accumulation of dampness, phlegm, or food. 

The body of the tongue represents the interior aspects of the body, the organ and the blood. When the body becomes weakened due to improper diet, stress, not enough sleep, medications, etc., the tongue will lose its coating representing a lack of Qi or nutrition.  When the tongue has no coating and it is red and cracked the body is hot and dry of fluid deficiency, just like a mud puddle or a river bed that dries up in the hot sun. The body needs foods and herbs to cool and moisten the body.   Conversely, if the tongue looks pale with not coating the body is cold and deficiency.  The body is lacking warmth and needs warming herbs and foods.

If you would like to have an online tongue diagnosis just contact me at

To Your Health
Professor Drew
New York Institute of Herbal Medicine & Nutrition

Popular posts from this blog

New York Herb School - Traditional Chinese Healing Arts. The Art of Healing with Herbs & Food.

Professional Certification as a Health Coach in the Traditional Chinese Healing Arts
     In 1977, My mother, Marian DiVittorio was diagnosed with breast cancer. After much anguish, she made the difficult decision to heal herself without pharmaceutical intervention. She began the "Gerson Program," and nutritional supplements, herbs, spiritual guidance, energy healing and dream work. My experience with food as medicine, the healing power of herbs and movement led me down the path to becoming a practitioner in the Traditional Chinese Healing Arts.
     I began this program 17 years ago at Norwalk Community College Extended Studies Division, then to the New York Open Center, and now I have partnered with the greatest teachers in Traditional √áhinese Medicine and the Taoist Healing Arts creating the most comprehensive Health Coaching Program today.
     The Five Element system of Chinese Medicine was developed by ancient sages who gave more attention to restoring the health of the b…

New York Herb School Institute of Herbal Medicine & Nutrition - 5-Month Certification Program: The Art of Healing with Food -Oriental Dietetics

Confucius (551-479 B.C.) once said...'the path to your friend's heart and love goes from your cooking.' A Chinese proverb tells us that 'eating good food can bring harmony and closeness to the family and relationships.'
In 625AD, the first Chinese Diet Classic was published by Sun Shu Mao a Chinese Physician, his book is entitled 'One Thousand Ounces of Gold Classics'. he created food cures for such conditions as thyroid issues, night blindness, liver diseases and much more. Many of these food cures and healing diets are still being used today. Macrobiotics and many of the modern healing diets that you are familiar with have all drawn from this ancient wisdom to heal disease in the modern clinic.
The 5 - Month program was created with an accessible formatof classes meeting one weekend a month and includes both academic, online and clinical training in diagnosis, herbal and food protocols. The Five Element system of Chinese Medicine was developed by ancient sag…

WORKSHOP! The EARTH ELEMENT - Herbal Formulas for the Spleen -Digestion, The Immune System, & Blood Sugar.

The Role of the Spleen (Pi) in Traditional Chinese MedicineYin Organs Overview byand
The spleen (pi), of all the organs in traditional Chinese medicine, bears the least resemblance to its Western counterpart. The latter deals primarily with production and destruction of red blood cells and storage of blood. In traditional Chinese physiology, the spleen plays a central part in the health and vitality of the body, taking a lead role in the assimilation of nutrients and maintenance of physical strength. It turns digested food from the stomach into usable nutrients and qi. Entire schools of medicine were formed around this organ; the premise