Tongue diagnosis

Start looking at your tongue seriously.



Your tongue accurately reflects the state of your digestive system- from rectum to esophagus, including the stomach, small intestines, colon (large intestine), pancreas, spleen, liver and gall bladder.
Imagine, you don’t need a battery of tests to find out what part of your digestive tract is in stress. You can diagnosis the whole GI tract and corresponding organ integrity all in one easy view- just stick your tongue out and take a good look at it.
As a whole the tongue reflects the condition of the digestive system and the organs associated with blood, nutrient assimilation, and excretion. You can also see how ‘hot’ or how ‘cold’ your internal organs are. Therefore it has a high value as a diagnostic tool.
Specific sections of the tongue mirror the condition of particular parts of the digestive system and the digestion related internal organs.
The following correspondences exist in this relationship:

Start looking at your tongue seriously. A- the tip area reflects the rectum and the descending colon.
B– the peripheral area reflects the large intestine.
C– the middle region corresponds to the small intestine.
D– the back edge region relates to the liver, gallbladder, duodenum, and pancreas.
E– the near back region corresponds to the stomach.
F– the back region (‘the root of the tongue’) reflects the esophagus.
G– the underside of the tongue reflects the quality of blood and lymph circulation in each corresponding area.

Structural characteristics

Like each particular area of the body, the tongue can be used to evaluate one’s overall condition.
Zetsu Shin as it is called in Japanese, is one of the most important forms of diagnosis used in Chinese medicine. Two main aspects are considered in tongue diagnosis.
First is the structure of the tongue. Is it wide or narrow, thick or thin, pointed or rounded? Such qualities convey information concerning the individual’s basic constitution and overall strengths and weaknesses of body and mind.

  • a wide tongue reflects an overall balanced physical and psychological disposition.
  • a narrow tongue reflects a lack of physical adaptability with pronounced strengths and weaknesses. Mentally, thinking may be sharp but tend toward seeing a narrow view.
  • a very wide tongue reflects a generally loose and expanded physical condition and a tendency toward more psychological concerns.


  • a rounded tip reflects a flexible yet firm physical and mental condition.
  • a pointed tip reflects a tight, perhaps even rigid physical condition and an aggressive or even offensive mentality.
  • a very wide tip reflects an overall weakness of the physical body and a flaccid or even “spaced out” mental condition.
  • a divided tip reflects a tendency toward physical and mental imbalances with the possibility of sharp fluctuations in thinking and mood.


  • a flat tongue reflects a balanced condition and the ability to flexibly adapt to circumstances.
  • a thin tongue reflects a more mental orientation, with a tendency to be more gentle and easy going.
  • a thick tongue reflects a more physical orientation, with the tendency to be assertive or even aggressive.

In comparison to structure, the condition of the tongue is influenced more by daily lifestyle and provides information about an individual’s current state of health. Qualities to look for include:

  • Dark red: indicates inflammation; lesions or ulceration; and sometimes a degeneration of the related organ.
  • White: indicates stagnation of blood; fat and mucus deposits; or a weakness in the blood leading to such conditions as anemia.
  • Yellow: indicates a disorder of the liver and gallbladder, resulting in an excess secretion of bile; deposits of animal fats, especially in the middle organs of the body; and possible inflammation.
  • Blue or Purple: indicates stagnation of blood circulation and a serious weakening of the part of the digestive system that corresponds to the area of the tongue where the color appears.

The color on the underside of the tongue can also be used to determine the internal condition. In general, the colors and their indications listed above are the same, with the following exceptions:

  • Blue or Green: In excess, either of these color reflect disorders in the blood vessels and in blood quality and circulation.
  • Purple: In excess, this color reflects disorders of the lymphatic and circulatory system. It indicates a weakening of the immune ability and of the blood vessels.


  • a swollen or enlarged tongue: indicates a Jitsu, or full state.
  • a shriveled or withered-looking tongue: indicates a Kyo, or empty state.


  • the flexibility of the tongue also reflects the condition of the digestive system. Characteristics to look for include:
    • a flexible, supple, smoothly moving tongue.
    • a stiff, tense, or inflexible tongue.
    • a loose or lolling tongue.
    • a tongue with a pronounced slant to the left or right when it is extended.

Pimples or projections of the tongue’s surface indicate the discharge of fat, protein, and sugar. Where in the body this discharge is coming from can be determined by the specific area of the tongue on which it appears. You can find the correlation between the areas of the tongue and the digestive tract.