THE WONDERS OF TONGUE SCRAPING
In Ayurveda, the tongue is an important indicator of health.
Have you ever woken up in the morning realized that your tongue has a thick coating or a lingering stale taste? This is an incredibly common sign of toxic buildup. Not to fear, we can counter this – but first, we need to start consciously observing the tongue. I know, it sounds a little silly, but it’s pretty simple. Wake up in the morning, and check your tongue in the mirror. As we increase our awareness of what true health looks and feels like in our bodies, we can more promptly (and appropriately!) address the early stages of disease. The regions of the tongue actually correspond to different organs of the body. By scraping the surface, we are stimulating all of the corresponding organs, encouraging them to act with efficiency.
One of the simplest ways to enhance tongue health, thereby enhancing overall health, is to invest in a tongue scraper. There are several different models, but I prefer the Dr. Tung’s stainless steel version because it is long-lasting, effective and easy to clean. In Ayurveda, we believe that the first stage of digestion begins on the tongue, with the experience of taste. As soon as the tongue receives one or all of the six tastes, saliva production increases. If the tongue is heavily coated, it is unable to accurately receive taste! Not only does this decrease your immediate ability to appreciate the flavors of your food, but it hinders your tongue’s ability to communicate with the rest of your body.
But, what about this component of toxic build-up? Toxins, also referred to as ama, can manifest physically in a thick tongue coating or excess mucus. This is typically the result of food partially digested food. A thick tongue coating can be an indicator that we have eaten something that didn’t settle quite right with our bodies. This is an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve eaten and to be gentle with our digestion (i.e. not eating until we are truly hungry and avoiding foods known to be particularly triggering for ourselves) until it clears up.
SO, you have invested in your perfect tongue scraper – now what? From here, it’s pretty easy.
- Wake up in the morning and gradually make your way to the bathroom sink.
- Run the tongue scraper from back to front about seven times, rinsing in between each scrap.
- Remember to address the whole tongue, not just the center.
- Rinse the tongue scrapper thoroughly & carry on with your day knowing that you have committed in incredible act of self care in almost no time at all.
Whether or not you connect to the energetic component of the tongue corresponding with the bodily organs, there are other more tangible benefits as well. For example, you may notice immediately how much better it feels to no longer have yesterday’s breath lingering on the back of your tongue. You might also experience a greater vibrancy and appreciation for the flavors of your food.
- Due to the stimulating nature of this process, I find that it is better to do in the morning, rather than at night.
- To clean your tongue scraper, just soak the metal part in white vinegar over night and then brush it with your toothpaste of choice. I do this every few weeks and have been using the same tongue scraper for years!
The Encyclopedia of Ayurveda (pg. 50)
by Swami Sadashiva Tirtha
Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing (pg. 60)
by Dr. Vasant Lad