The Benefits of Ayurvedic Tongue Cleaning
Meghan Hays Ayurveda Salt Lake City
Do you know about the Ayurvedic practice of tongue cleaning? It’s the first thing Ayurveda says you should do each morning, before brushing your teeth, eating, or even drinking water.
You want to remove any coating on the tongue with a metal tongue cleaner. Brushing your tongue? Not the same. Your toothbrush just pushes all that gunk back into your tissues…yuck!
Clean the tongue by gently scraping from back to front, rinsing between each pass, 7-10 times. This practice completely eliminates morning breath (woohoo!), stimulates your digestive system and metabolism (called “agni” in Sanskrit and Ayurveda), and gives you an opportunity to check out the state of your tongue.
Is there coating? If so, this indicates that your digestive system is not working so efficiently and is, in fact, creating toxicity from improperly digested food (what Ayurveda calls “ama”). If left untreated, this ama can form disease and health challenges down the line.
If the coating is yellow, it’s mixing with pitta dosha and possibly indicates some heat, burning, or inflammation; if it’s white, it’s mixing with kapha dosha and possibly indicates some heaviness, sluggishness, or even candida; if it’s gray or brown, it’s mixing with vata dosha and possibly indicates some dryness, instability, or even anxiety.
Cracking on the tongue can indicate dryness in the tissues of the body. Redness on the tongue can indicate heat, inflammation, anger, or even a fever. Scalloping on the margins of the tongue indicates malabsorption in the digestive tract. Teeth marks (which look different from scallops) can indicate swelling or edema in the tissues of the body.
The tongue is a fascinating organ!
I hope this was helpful and that you start the ancient practice of tongue cleaning first thing each morning—it’s a game-changer! Check out more about Ayurveda on my website at Meghan Hays Ayurveda Salt Lake City - I work virtually and in-person!
(You can find a great, stainless steel (b/c who needs more plastic in their lives?) tongue cleaner from Banyan Botanicals by clicking on the link here FYI; I give one as a gift to all of my clients at their initial consultation. Stainless steel is naturally antimicrobial.)
Tongue scraping/cleaning is an integral part of an Ayurvedic morning and hygiene routine. The tongue is the first and most visible part of the digestive system. Cleaning the tongue first thing in the morning not only improves oral hygiene and freshens breath, but it also stimulates the digestive system, promoting a healthy appetite and morning bowel movement.
Tongue cleaning is different from “brushing” the tongue with your toothbrush: while a tongue scraper removes coating and toxins from the tongue, a toothbrush pushes them back in. The coating on our tongues, from an Ayurvedic perspective, indicates the presence of ama. Ama is toxicity from poorly or improperly digested food. White, thick coating, mucous, or excess saliva indicate kapha imbalance; yellow or greenish coating or a red/bright pink tongue indicate pitta imbalance; grayish or brownish coating or dryness indicate a vata imbalance. The coating on our tongue can change daily, based on what and when we ate the day before, so it’s important to check yours each morning, before scraping, to note any changes.
To properly clean the tongue, gently scrape from back to front 6-10 times, first thing in the AM, before even brushing your teeth. Rinse the scraper between each pass. Finally, rinse your mouth out with warm water and then drink 8-16 oz water to further stimulate digestion and regular elimination patterns. I recommend a stainless steel or copper tongue scraper for their naturally anti-microbial qualities. Allow your scraper to air dry between each use.
More Interesting Info from Banyan Botanicals (click here for the whole article):
In the western sciences, dentists appreciate post-nasal drip as the cause of bad breath. The post-nasal drip coats the back of the tongue with mucus that is rich in bacteria. This dying bad bacteria produces volatile sulfur compounds that create bad breath. In Ayurveda, we recognize the coating on the back of the tongue as much more than that.
The white coating is what we call ama (natural toxins). Bacteria and mucus can certainly be ama. But any toxin that has that sticky and heavy quality, causing dysfunction in the body, is ama. So, while post-nasal drip is certainly one cause of the white coating, there are many people with white tongues who have absolutely no post-nasal drip. Our tongue represents our entire gastrointestinal tract and what is going on there. As the body processes the toxins and puts them back into the gastrointestinal tract for elimination, it also spits them out onto the tongue. Further, oral bacteria is associated with the health of a number of other systems, including the heart, lungs, reproductive tissues, and pancreas, and even the health during pregnancy.
The tongue cleaner is the most superior method of cleaning your tongue. One study compared a traditional tongue cleaner (which they called a tongue scraper) with a toothbrush. They found that the tongue scraper decreased volatile sulfur compounds by 75% as opposed to 45% with the toothbrush. But again, bad breath is only one benefit of scraping your tongue with a tongue cleaner. Doing so will support your entire body by helping maintain a healthy bacteria amount in the mouth and by stimulating the cleansing of the entire gastrointestinal tract. It is also a great way to stay in touch with your overall health.
By remembering to clean your tongue daily, you will quickly get into the habit of taking note of the coating on your tongue. You may notice a thicker coat after a heavy meal, sickness, or after eating a lot of dairy the night before. If a tongue cleaner is not right next to your toothbrush and floss and is not already part of your daily routine, now is the time to start!
Learn more by booking a 2-hour Initial Consultation with Meghan Hays Ayurveda Salt Lake City today!
Meghan Hays Ayurveda - Ayurveda Salt Lake City