Our tongues help in mixing food with saliva in the mouth, swallowing and, above all, tasting food. But for such an important part of the body, the tongue gives us comparatively little trouble. People have problems with hearing, sight and smell but rarely have complaints of the tongue. The result is that there are no tongue specialists. Until 30 years ago, the first thing you would be asked to do if you went to a doctor was to show him or her your tongue. Tongue diagnosis was taught in many medical schools. When I was a medical student in Moscow, Professor Romashoff, the dean of my faculty, said that the tongue is the mirror of the gastrointestinal tract. He mapped the tongue with correlates in the stomach, liver, colon and intestines.
I have been using tongue diagnosis for more than two decades. The clinical pharmacologist Dr Andrew Herxheimer, now retired, suggested I make diagrams of patient’s tongues, annotated with their conditions, to see if there was a connection. I now have thousands of these on my patient’s cards. The accuracy with which one can diagnose simply from the state of the tongue is astonishing.
Taste is accentuated because of certain conditions in the digestive system or kidneys (hence your acupuncturists suggestion). My own experience with patients is that those who have high stomach acid find that their teeth and tongue feel ‘sour’. The bitter taste usually comes from excess production of bile (which emulsifies fats so that they can be broken down). As this excess bile is diffused into the stomach, it can produce a strong taste in the mouth. Some of the vegetable juices you are drinking (and citrus fruit) may be causing excess acid production in the stomach, which in turn may stimulate bile production to create an alkaline medium for digestion to take place.
Excess stomach acid can cause dryness in the mouth and burn your lips. Regurgitating acid, which tends to happen during sleep, irritates the lips and in time can change their colour. That is why people with high stomach acid have very pink lips. In my book The Integrated Health Bible you will find drawings of the tongue in different states, which should give you a clearer picture.
Sometimes people get a metallic taste. This could be due to amalgam mercury fillings in the teeth or to digestive problems, excessive drinking, constipation, or to having just given up smoking, taken a long course of antibiotics, steroids or zinc supplements. I recommend removing amalgam fillings wherever possible, but this must, be done by a dentist experienced in the removal of these fillings, because of the Possibility of mercury escaping. You can see that you may have to turn detective to solve this mystery of the salty bitter taste in your mouth.
In general, the following suggestions should help you:
- Avoid citrus fruits and juices, also pineapple, mango and tomato juice, which produce excess stomach acid.
- Avoid mushrooms: they often cause bloating and gas and may leave an aftertaste.
- Eat papaya and drink freshly juiced organic carrots, which are good for the liver and bowels.
- Chronic constipation often causes a bad taste in the mouth. as well as bad breath.
- Drink plenty of water (at least eight big glasses daily) and eat prunes, fig: and spinach. lf you are constipated, take two tablets of Herbolax at bedtime for two months.
- Suck a clove for ten minutes, morning and evening, to relieve the sensations in your mouth and tongue.
The nerves that go to the tongue are part of the cranial nerve system. Sometimes, Hypersensitivity of the tongue or a burning sensation can be cured by massaging the neck and shoulders. This improves the blood circulation to the brain stem and midbrain, where the nerve centres are located.