Updated: Nov 16, 2020
On this Self-Care Sunday, I'm talking all about the Ayurvedic practice of Tongue Scraping (or jihwa prakshalana), some of the noteworthy benefits, how to do it/ how often, and what the color of your detox gunk might mean. Shall we?
Tongue Scraping, as mentioned, is a traditional Ayurvedic self-care practice of using a, typically, copper instrument to scrape the top of your tongue that cleanses the body by removing toxins and bacteria that build up in your oral cavity from food, drink, and our environment. It's completely different from brushing the tongue, which will only push those bacteria and toxins back into the tongue. The coating that is scraped off during this ancient practice helps to stimulate the internal organs through energetic connections with the rest of our body, increases your sense of taste, and helps aid in good digestion. If too much build-up occurs it can interfere with tasting food/ clouding the sense organ, hindering digestion, causing bad breath, and can even create unhealthy cravings.
So why does this build-up happen and what does it mean? Honestly, there could be a number of reasons why it personally occurs for you (I recommend seeking guidance from a naturopathic practitioner/ health coach to help you get to your root of it, how it could potentially be causing other health issues, and how to manage it.) This build-up, generally speaking, can be a result of unhealthy/ processed diet choices, poor digestion, or a reflection of an imbalance somewhere else in your gastrointestinal system.
What kind of Tongue Scraper & How do I do it? Tongue scrapers should be made of gold, silver, copper, stainless steel, or brass because of how these materials are resistant to corrosion, really durable, and the most effective. Look for a scraper that is not too harsh or sharp on the edge that runs over your tongue and that is in a curved design, so we don't injure the tongue.
This practice sees the most benefit when performed first thing in the morning before eating or drinking. To scrape, start by sticking out your tongue, relaxing it, and gently pressing down near the back of the tongue ( but not too far back to turn on that gag reflex). Keeping that soft pressure, slide the scraper towards the tip/ front of your tongue, and repeat covering all angles and surface areas each time you begin again. Repeat anywhere between 7 to 14 strokes, you can also rinse off the tool in between strokes if there is a lot of accumulation.
What does the color of my build-up mean?
Taking a look at the color of your build-up and the quantity can potentially give you insight as to what's going on internally. The amount can be a good indication as to whether or not your body was able to digest the food you ate the previous day (more gunk = probably not the greatest digestion). In Ayurveda, there are three energy profiles, housed within us, that correspond with different elements Kapha (Earth), Pitta (Fire), and Vata (Air), (which btw let me know if the topic of Ayurveda interests you, and I will write up a blog post going more in-depth about this mind-body "science of life") the coloring of your tongue gunk is said to correlate with these, indicating there is an imbalance of these elements in your body. Kapha variety, it will appear as a thick, white gunkyness. Pitta build-up tends to be more yellowish, and Vata build-up is brownish. If you are noticing a lot of build-up in a particular area of your tongue, see the tongue photo for what organ in your body that might be an indication of strain or improper function (always consult your health care practitioner though before self-diagnosing/ treating).
To re-cap along with healthy foods, tongue scraping is a simple practice that is a direct way to remove toxicity from your physiology. It can help you clear and rejuvenate your mind and is a fantastic way to start the day caring for yourself/ your body. When performed as a daily practice, it is a great way to reflect on your choices, eliminate bad breath, aid in digestion, potentially offering insight on how to heal and can bring more self-awareness by giving you the opportunity to keep your health in mind the rest of the day.
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Until the next one,