A normal tongue is described as being pale pink, with a thin white coating. The tongue should not be too wet or too dry. It should be without cracks, and should not tremble upon sticking it out. Neither should it be too long or too short, nor too stiff or too limp.

Indications of an imbalance or disease within the body can be a red tongue, yellow coating, thick coating similar to mozzarella cheese, very dry or with cracks forming in the coating or on the tongue itself.

The clinical relevance of the tongue

Lower Jiao

The base of the tongue corresponds with the Kidney, Urinary Bladder, Large Intestine and Small Intestine meridians.

Middle Jiao

The sides of the tongue correspond with the Liver- and Gallbladder meridians. In some theories the Gallbladder is localized on the patient’s left side and the Liver on the right side.

The middle of the tongue corresponds with the Stomach and Spleen meridians.

Upper Jiao

The tip of the tongue corresponds with the Lung and Heart meridians.


Western medicine has started to show an interest in the connection between cancer patients and changes in color, coating and structure of their tongues. In the December 2002 issue of Acupuncture Today there is an interesting article which discusses a research study undertaken at the Pittsburgh Medical Centre. Researchers have started photographing the tongues of patients in order to determine whether or not an inspection of the tongue can help reveal early stages of colon cancer.