According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the tongue is closely related to Qi, Blood and Jin Ye as well as the Zang Fu. As the mucosa of the tongue is thin and transparent with a rich supply of blood, any changes observed in the tongue are indicative of internal changes. Thus the tongue serves as an indispensable diagnostic tool.

Classical TCM texts state that the tongue is a mirror of the Zang Fu. The channels of all the Zang Fu connect with the tongue either directly or indirectly. The channels that connect directly are the five Zang organs, the Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lung and Kidney, as well as the Triple Burner and Bladder. The tongue is divided in zones which relate to the various Zang Fu: the tip of the tongue reflects the Heart; the area just behind the tip of the tongue epresents the Lung; the central portion of the tongue represents the Stomach and Spleen; the sides of the tongue represent the Liver and Gallbladder; and the rear of the tongue represents the Kidney, Bladder and Intestines. In addition the sublingual veins are indicative of Kidney dysfunction. These zones are shown in Figure 27 below. These zones form the foundation of tongue diagnosis in combination with observation of the coating, the tongue body, and its shape and posture, each of which will be discussed in detail.


Chinese Medicine Canberra Tongue Diagnosis Acupuncture Canberra Herbal Medicine Canberra The body of the tongue is indicative of the condition of the tissues of the body, whereas the coat on the tongue, also known as the moss or fur, reflects the rising of the Qi of the Spleen and Stomach. During its vaporisation of essences the Spleen causes small quantities of impure substance to ascend and gather on the tongue; in other words the coat on the tongue reflects the activity of the digestion in the stomach. In a healthy individual the coat on the tongue will be thin, moist, relatively uniform and clear or white. The body of the tongue in a healthy individual will be clearly visible through the tongue coat and will be pinkish red, steady soft and flexible. It will be neither too fat nor too thin and its surface will be even, neither smoothly polished nor excessively rough. Any variation on the above description is considered to be pathological.

In general the coat of the tongue reflects the presence and severity of pathological factors and the body of the tongue reflects the relative deficiency or excess of the Zang Fu and Fundamental Substances. A normal pinkish-red tongue that is slightly moist and flexible indicates sufficiency of Qi and Blood; the presence of a thin coat indicates that Stomach Qi is sufficient. The presence of both of these factors indicates a favourable prognosis.