Overnight, as the body processes everything that was ingested that day, toxins (called ama in Ayurveda) begin to form, and are visible as a coating on the tongue. If the ama is more of the kapha variety, it will appear as a thick, white coating. Pitta ama tends to be more yellow, and vata ama is brown.
Don’t know your dosha yet? visit: joyfullbelly.com to take a dosha quiz and learn more about your body type.
Self Care Ritual - Scraping the coating off first thing in the morning prevents reabsorption of the toxins that your body worked so hard to expel.
Tongue scraping, or jihwa prakshalana, is a traditional part of Ayurvedic self-care and also a great way to check in with your body each morning. Notice the color of the coating as well as the quantity. The amount can be a good indication as to whether or not your body was able to digest the food you consumed the previous day.
The tongue reports the facts to us about what we’re eating through our tastes but it also reports facts to us about how we’re digesting what we’ve eating and if the organs are functioning properly.
This last form of reporting takes a little bit of translating, but once you get the hang of it, it’s one of the coolest and most informative daily practices from the Ayurvedic tradition.
It’s called Ayurvedic Tongue Diagnosis, and while Ayurvedic doctors can read a great deal into how the tongue looks, any person can get a useful daily read on their health simply by learning the basics.
“This should become a regular tool for any yogi”
The tongue reports on our state of digestion and health through it’s appearance.
The digestive tract and organs are mapped out on the tongue and so it tells a tale of health or imbalance in any of these areas through colour, texture, coating, moisture, shape, smell and more.
Ayurveda recognises that anything we don’t digest accumulates in our body and then becomes toxic. This accumulation is called Ama, and when we sleep at night the body works to eliminate ama, particularly through the membrane system of our body.
We see this as goop in our eyes or mucus in our nose or stool. The tongue is also a membrane and the white coating that appears on it each morning is considered ama, or toxicity, that the body is processing and pushing out.
“Your tongue can reveal how much toxic material is stored in your cells and vital organs. The tongue is a mirror of the membrane system of your body.”
Paying attention to the quality of this ama appearing on our tongue can reveal a great deal and help us make day to day choices that direct us back into balance.
Research Your Tongue Every Morning!
A great practice to get in the habit of is sticking your tongue out first thing in the morning and checking out how it looks. Do this before you drink water or brush your teeth to get the best reading of what your body was processing through sleep.
Then compare what you’re seeing in the mirror with the Tongue Diagnosis Charts (see below).
Things to think about when checking our your tongue:
What colour is it?
Is the coating evenly distributed across your tongue or accumulated in particular areas?
Does it smell?
Is it dry or moist? Frothy?
What do the edges look like? Smooth or scalloped?
Are there red bumps or patches? Where?
Are there cracks? Where?
Compare this information to the charts and graphs and start taking action to bring yourself back into balance based on what you see.
For example, notice that when you eat heavier foods such as pizza, ice cream, or peanut butter, you tend to have a thicker coating on your tongue the next morning. According to Ayurveda, these toxins cause obstructions in respiration, as well as foul-smelling breath. The coating they produce can interfere with our ability to taste, clouding this sense organ and even creating unhealthy cravings.
Ayurveda considers the tongue a road map of the entire body, with each section corresponding to a different organ. When we scrape the tongue, it’s like giving our internal organs a gentle massage. The back area of the tongue corresponds with the colon, so scraping that area stimulates peristalsis.
Dental research has concluded that a tongue scraper is more effective at removing toxins and bacteria from the tongue than a toothbrush. Although brushing and flossing will loosen and move debris around, they do not actually remove bacteria. Almost half of our oral bacteria live on and in the deep crevice of our tongue; the scrapping action of the tongue scraper collect these toxic tongue coatings (which can range in colour from clear, white, yellow or green) and remove them from the body.
5 Reasons YOU should scrape your tongue.
Halitosis is not cool - Bad breath can have an impact on a persons life, relationships and self esteem. Given that most bad breath comes from bad bacteria at the back of the tongue, clinical studies have found that tongue scraping significantly reduces and removes oral bacteria from the crevices of all areas of the tongue.
You want to experience the flavor of your food - Proper digestion begins with taste and salivation. If you don’t take the steps to remove toxic mucus off the tongue, your taste buds can become blocked. This may lead to false cravings or an inability to recognise the taste of your food. Removing the build up from the tongue, will open up its pores and better expose your taste buds, allowing for greater enjoyment and supports you body to digest and assimilate food. - hmmm yummy!
You want to boost you immunity - The tongue is part of the first line of defence in your immune system. Scraping prevents toxins from being reabsorbed into the body and boosts overall immune function.
You’re down with dental health - Tongue scraping promotes general tooth and gum health and removes bacteria and toxins responsible for periodontal problems, plaque build up, tooth decay, loss of teeth, gum infections and gum recession.
You’d like to improve your digestive health - In Ayurveda, proper digestion is considered to be the foundation of health. Given that digestion begins with taste, it's important to remove any toxins that may obstruct optimal functioning. Scraping also activates saliva production and promotes agni (the body’s digestive fire) to help with digestion throughout the day.
This ritual/practice should be done on a regular basis, on an empty stomach, upon rising. A tongue scraper is a long, thin. flat piece of metal that is bent in a ‘U’ shape. If you don’t have one here is a link to Alaya Kolectiv’s Offirings to purchase your own: https://www.alayakolectiv.com/product-page/ayurvedic-copper-tongue-cleaner)
“I can guarantee that, once you start a regular practice of tongue scraping, you will be hooked. After a few weeks, you will notice a significant difference. Your mouth will feel fresher and your taste buds more alive. Personally, I cannot imagine leaving the house before scraping.”