Stick out your tongue, say “ugh”

Traditional Chinese medicine tongue diagnosis gains favour –

Holly Fennell sees about 50 tongues a week. The first thing the naturopath looks at is the colour. A “nice pinky-red” is normal, but many of her patients have a dark purple hue, which is her first clue that there is something off with their energy, or ch’i. A yellowish coating may indicate the flu or a cold. If the outside edge is bumpy, it could be a sign of anxiety. And Fennell, who has been practising Chinese medicine in Toronto’s tony Summerhill neighbourhood for 10 years, has a very deep line down the middle of hers, which she says points to her asthma. Patients think she is psychic, the way she reads their tongues.

Tongue diagnosis is hardly new; it has been used in more than 3,000 years of Chinese medicine. “Every medical system has to have a way to ‘see’ inside the body,” says the Miami-based acupuncture and herbal therapy specialist. While Western medicine relies on blood work, scans and X-rays, Chinese medicine uses the much less expensive—not to mention readily accessible—tongue.

Any deviation from normal—“It just looks healthy, like a good piece of meat,” Rohr says on his website video—“shows some energetic imbalance with that person.” Over time, with acupuncture or herbs and special teas, the tongue recovers as the patient heals.

There was one paragraph of mild skepticism in this piece. Pathetic. The tongue is NOT a mirror for health. You can sometimes tell when someone is ill from various physical characteristics but you can’t be specific. This is nonsense, just like the many other things mentioned in this piece such as Traditional Chinese Meds, acupuncture, special teas and “energetic imbalance”. That’s magical thinking. If you’re sick, see a real doctor, not a naturopath.

For more on these topics, check out Quackwatch and Science Based Medicine.

  1 comment for “Stick out your tongue, say “ugh”

  1. Alan Murray
    January 10, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    My tongue sometimes has a purple hue in the morning. It’s called Merlot or Shiraz . Only thing magical is the ability to bounce back and regain my lost energy. The bumpy bit I sometimes encounter?, Maybe I talk too much.

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