For a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, the tongue is a window to the interior of your body. The tongue can take on many different appearances and textures, depending on how the tissue of the tongue is being nourished. This representative organ gives great insight to the body as a whole. The tongue shows the depth and nature of particular imbalances such as pathogenic heat or cold, stagnation or deficient conditions. Tongue diagnosis is used as a tool of measure to chart progress of a particular disorder, whether it is at the surface or going deeper into the interior of the body.
The tongue’s body size, shape and color shows the quality of qi and blood flow and the state of the organs whereas the tongues coating may indicate whether particular pathogens are causing heat or cold symptoms. The characteristics of the tongue such as quivering, having a deviation, having tooth marks or cracks also gives information on what is going on within the interior of the body. For example, a tongue with horizontal cracks tells the practitioner that the body’s yin may need nourishing.
The body of the tongue has a geographic correspondence with the organs themselves. The back of the tongue maps the Kidney and the Urinary Bladder as well as the Large and Small Intestine, while the front of the tongue corresponds to the Lung and the heart at the tongue tip. The center of the tongue shows the Spleen and Stomach, while the sides correspond to the Liver and Gallbladder. Having a particular characteristic appear only on one part of the tongues geography may give a clue as to which organ is affected by an imbalance. The tongue picture is a key tool for a practitioner making an accurate diagnosis.