Tongue Scraping: The Many Benefits of an Ancient Practice
Although tongue scraping has recently become a new topic here in the west, this simple morning practice dates back thousands of years in the world of Ayurveda. It is stated in the great treaties such as the Charak Samhita and Bhavaprakasha, among others, that tongue scraping is needed to be performed daily as part of the morning routine in order to achieve greater health.
The good news for our western, modern society is that unlike many of the Ayurvedic practices mentioned in the ancient texts, tongue scraping is quick, easy, affordable and totally obtainable to perform each morning. Before I go on to tell you how to perform tongue scraping, let me first go over the benefits of this healing morning ritual.
Five Reasons to Make Tongue Scraping a Part of Your Morning Routine:
- Removes the bad bacteria in the mouth. The body is hard at work during the night digesting the day’s food and detoxing the system. Due to this detoxification, some of the toxins will end up on the tongue as a means to void them from the body. By scraping the tongue first thing each morning, you will avoid the possibility of reabsorbing this unwanted bacteria.
- Removes bad breath. As stated above, the tongue is a vessel of removing some of the unwanted bacteria from the body, which may end up as a layer coating the tongue each morning. If this dead bacteria is not removed from the tongue, bad breath is sure to result. Brushing the teeth and even the tongue with a toothbrush has been proven to not be nearly as effective as using a tongue scraping utensil!
- Awakens the vital organs of the body. If you have read my previous article on Ayurvedic Tongue Analysis, you have learned that each section of the tongue correlates to a different organ in the body. By performing the tongue scraping first thing each morning, you are indirectly stimulating and awakening these organs, increasing the digestion and aiding in elimination.
- Opens and enhances the taste buds. According to Ayurveda, the first stage of digestion begins with the taste faculty in the mouth. If you have a chronic layer of bacteria coating your tongue, the taste buds become dull and therefore will not perform properly. This in turn will decrease the body ability to digest food properly.
- By looking at the tongue each morning, you will be able to keep track of your internal health. This may sound confusing to some of you, so please let me explain. Just as I have stated in my previous article,“What Does Your Tongue Say about Your Health”, the tongue is indeed a reflection of what is occurring internally. For example, if there is an increase of toxins in the system, you may notice a thick coating on the tongue upon awakening. Therefore, if you regularly are checking your tongue each morning, you have a daily window into your ever so changing health. This can awaken you to foods that may not be compatible for you or be a red light that something is off balance in your system. Of course, if your tongue is shiny and clean, this can be an indication that you are in good shape and living well. Please read my article on Ayurvedic Tongue Analysis in order to learn what signs of imbalance to look for on the tongue and what they may mean.
Tongue Scraping in 5 Easy Steps:
- Upon awakening, look in the bathroom mirror and stick out your tongue. Before you start scraping, observe any noticeable changes in appearance or indications of imbalance. **See my Ayurvedic Tongue Analysis article for more information.
- After taking in any changes, grab your tongue scraper and clean with warm water and soap if needed.
- Begin to gently slide the edge of the scraper down the tongue. Perform this action one stroke at a time, beginning with the back of the tongue and moving it towards the tip of the tongue.
- After one full stroke, clean off any residue collected on the scraper with warm water.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4, 7 to 10 times.
After the tongue has been fully scraped, wash the scraper with warm water and put in a clean, sterile space for the next morning. Here are a few extra tips to remember:
- Do not use force with this procedure. Tongue scraping should be performed in a gentle, comfortable manner and there should never be any pain or bleeding involved.
- Be cautious for any raised papillae that sometimes appear at the back of the tongue. These are naturally occurring and should be cautiously stroked or completely avoided during tongue scraping.
- Since this is a stimulating process, tongue scraping should only be performed at the beginning of the day and should be avoided at nighttime.
If you are in need of purchasing a tongue scraper, you can obtain one online atBanyan Botanicals. Otherwise if you would rather take the “poor man’s route”, which I prefer myself, you can cheat by using the back of a butter knife (the non-serrated side). I have been tongue scraping daily for over 5 years and this is the only tongue scraping utensil I have ever used. It is easy to obtain, free and works just as well as a store bought tongue scraper. Just make sure to use the back of the butter knife and NOT the sharp side!
If you do decide to purchase a tongue scraper, here is the recommended material according to each dosha:
- Vata: If you are of a Vata nature, it is said to use a Gold tongue scraper.
- Pitta: If you are of a Pitta nature, it is said to use a Silver tongue scraper.
- Kapha: If you are of a Kapha nature, it is said to use a Copper tongue scraper.
- Tri-doshic (good for every-body): If you are unsure of your dosha or cannot obtain any of the above materials, then it is said to use a stainless steel tongue scraper as it is suitable for all body types!