The tongue has many relationships and connections in the body, both to the meridians and the internal organs. It is therefore very useful and important during inspection for confirming TCM diagnosis. It can present strong visual indicators of a person's overall harmony or disharmony.

The tongue has a special relationship with the Heart, in that the Heart opens to the tongue. The tongue is said to be an "offshoot" of the Heart, or "flowers" into the Heart.

The normal tongue in Traditional Chinese Medicine has a light red or pinkish body with a thin white coating.

Connections to the Tongue

Channels/Meridians Reaching the Tongue

TCM Tongue Diagnosis Chinese Medicine

Tongue areas as they correspond to internal organs in Chinese Medicine

Tongue Diagnosis Method and Cautions

Tongue Feature Indications

Tongue Body Color

Indicates the state of Blood, Yin organs, and Ying (Nutritive) Qi.

Normal Tongue Body

Bluish Purple or Reddish Purple Tongue Body

Red Tongue Body

Red Tip

Scarlet Tongue Body

Dark Red Tongue Body

Pale Tongue Body

Green Tongue Body

Tongue Body Shape

The body shape reflects the state of Blood and Ying (Nutritive) Qi, and indicates Excess or Deficiency. Constitution can also affect the shape of the tongue body.




Big or Enlarged Tongue

Half the Tongue Is Swollen

Hammer Shaped

Local Swelling on One Side

Swollen Sides

Swollen Between the Tip and the Central Surface

Swollen Edges

Swollen Tip

Short and Contracted


Front Swollen


Tongue Body Features

Rough or Tender Texture

Red Spots

White Spots

Black Spots

Ulcerated Tongue Body

Numb Tongue Body

Loose Tongue Body

Deviated Tongue Body

Moving, Lolling, Wagging, Playful Tongue Body

Rolled Tongue Body

Teeth Marks on Tongue Body (Scalloped)

Quivering or Trembling Tongue Body

Sore Covered Tongue Body

Tongue Body Moisture

Reveals the state of Yin and Fluids in the body.

Dry Tongue Body

Slightly Dry Tongue Body

Wet Tongue Body

Tongue Coating

Indicates the state of the Yang organs, especially the Stomach.

White Tongue Coat

White Like Powder Tongue Coat

White Like Snow Tongue Coat

Yellow Tongue Coat

Dirty Yellow Tongue Coat

Simultaneous White and Yellow Tongue Coating

Gray Tongue Coat

Black Tongue Coat

Half Yellow, Half White (Longitudinally)

Yellow Root With A White Tip

Black in the Center, White and Slippery on the Sides

Tongue Coat Thickness

Thin Coating

Thick Coating

Peeled, Mirrored, Shiny, No Coating

Tongue Body Cracks

Horizontal Cracks

Transverse Cracks On the Sides of the Tongue

Scalloped Tongue

Crack in the Center

Crack Down the Center to Tip

Cracks Like Ice Floes

Vertical Cracks in the Center

Irregular Cracks

Tongue Coat Root

Tongue Coat Has Root

Tongue Coat Has No Root