Tongue coated – causes and treatment
Most people know the tongue from colds or as a side effect of eating certain foods. In addition to this temporary tongue coating, however, some people permanently develop a coated tongue. The causes can be extremely different and include some very serious diseases. The color and location of the covering can provide important information when searching for the causes.
Table of Contents
- Tongue coated – causes and treatment
- Tongue coating in western tongue diagnostics
- Tongue covering in Ayurveda
- Tongue covering in traditional Chinese medicine
- Tongue covering in conventional medicine
- Tongue covering diagnostic examples
- White tongue coating
- Yellow tongue coating
- Brown tongue covering
- Black tongue coating
An examination of the tongue has been an essential element in medical diagnosis in many cultures for centuries. The color, location and consistency of the tongue covering are also analyzed in order to draw conclusions about existing diseases. Changes in the tongue such as cracks, furrows, dental impressions and elevations are also used as additional diagnostic diagnostic signs. Often the tongue coating is accompanied by morbidity, which can occur as a direct result of the coating, but also independently of it.
The coating on the tongue and throat provides information on existing diseases. (Image: eyetronic / fotolia.com)
With the tongue coating, not only can the diagnosis of diseases be confirmed, but organic disorders can also be recognized very early on and, under certain circumstances, they can be compensated for before a (serious) disease develops.
Important : discoloration and coating on the tongue can also be caused by food and beverages (for example beetroot, blueberries, wine, coffee)!
Tongue coating in western tongue diagnostics
According to western tongue diagnosis, the entire digestive tract is reflected on the tongue. Depending on where the deposit forms, you can get information on the condition of certain organs. Experience has shown that the front third indicates the esophagus and the beginning of the stomach area, while the reflex zones of the stomach, duodenum, liver, bile, pancreas (left) and spleen (right) are assigned to the middle third. Finally, the rear part of the tongue is intended to provide information about the condition of the intestine.
Likewise, color deviations indicate impaired organ functions:
- With mild intestinal disorders, for example, red to brown discolourations often appear on the edges and tips of the tongue.
- Yellow tongue coating is interpreted as a sign of a disturbance of the intestinal muscles, but above all as a sign of liver involvement.
- A thick coating that appears brownish-yellow is associated with disorders of the liver, gallbladder and biliary tract, but also with a possible portal vein congestion.
- Likewise, greenish coating on the tongue can show up in gallbladder and biliary tract diseases.
Tongue covering in Ayurveda
As in traditional western tongue diagnostics, importance is also attached to the tongue covering in Ayurveda, the traditional healing system of India. After the as Jhivadesignated diagnostic form, however, there are additional areas on the tongue that reflect organs that do not belong to the digestive system. For example, the heart is located in the middle of the front third, while the lungs extend to the left and right. In the back third, the two kidneys are shown, which “frame” the colon from the side. Finally, in the middle third, the stomach and pancreas are shown in the middle, and the spleen and liver are shown on the side, which roughly corresponds to the Western concept. The tongue coverings, which are visible on these areas, are also assigned to the three basic energetic principles of Ayurveda, namely Vata , Pitta and Kapha :
- white tongue coating is considered a Kaphadisorder in Ayurveda ,
- red or yellow-green colored covering as an indication of a Pittadisorder,
- Finally, brown and black discoloration as a sign of a Vata
Taking into account the individual constitution, these disorders should be compensated for with medication, massages, asanas (physical exercises), various detoxification processes and Ayurveda’s nutritional theory .
Tongue covering in traditional Chinese medicine
Tongue diagnostics is one of the most important diagnostic tools in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been tried and tested for thousands of years. The tongue covering provides essential clues for diagnosis and is closely related to many systemic diseases. In a study from 2018, the informative value of train diagnostics was checked according to the TCM approaches and the train bed was evaluated as an “objective and reproducible” indicator for existing diseases due to its relatively clear molecular basis.
Tongue covering in conventional medicine
In conventional medicine, tongue coverings and tongue diagnostics are also considered important, albeit to a much lesser extent. There are certain tongue coverings and discolorations that are assessed as an indication of specific diseases.
For example, the “raspberry tongue” is known as a typical symptom of scarlet fever, an infectious disease caused by streptococci. In a certain phase of the infection, the tongue stands out due to intense reddening and protruding warmth, which in the medical literature earned it a comparison with the raspberry fruit.
A heavily reddened tongue is considered a sign of iron deficiency or pernicious anemia (with vitamin B12 deficiency ). In addition, if the tongue looks very smooth due to lost papillae and is accompanied by a burning sensation in the tongue, there is probably a severe vitamin B12 deficiency, which was caused, for example, by cirrhosis of the liver. This phenomenon is called the “tongue of paint”.
If the tongue is covered with pink and red spots, it is associated as a “map tongue” with disorders of the hormonal system, but also with liver or metabolic disorders. Finally, the “hair tongue” (see below) with a black tongue coating is considered harmless and is often only considered a cosmetic problem.