Chinese Tongue Diagnosis



Tongue Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine

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


The tongue body and color indicate the state of Blood, Yin organs, and Ying (Nutritive) Qi.

Normal Tongue Body

  • Pink or light red in color

Bluish Purple or Reddish Purple Tongue Body

  • Purple can indicate both Heat and Cold conditions.
  • A reddish purple tongue indicates Heat and Blood Stagnation.
  • A dark reddish purple tongue that is dry usually indicates depleted fluids due to Excess Heat
  • A light purple, bluish purple, or greenish purple tongue body color can indicate Cold and Blood Stagnation.

Red Tongue Body

  • A red tongue body is darker than the normal red, which is pinkish in color. It indicates either Deficient or Excess Heat.
  • A red tongue body with a thick yellow coat or swollen buds indicates Excess Heat
  • A red tongue body with a bright shiny coat, little coat, or no coating indicates Deficient Heat.

Red Tip

  • Heat in the Heart Zang

Scarlet Tongue Body

  • A scarlet tongue that is also peeled or shiny indicates Yin Deficiency, usually of the Heart and/or Lung depending on the area of swelling.

Dark Red Tongue Body

  • The red is darker and more crimson in color. This tongue body can indicate internal injury such as trauma (De Da), invasion of external evil in the Ying (Nutritive) and Xue (blood) levels, or it can indicate Blood Stagnation.
  • If there are red spots with a thin coat, this usually indicates damage to the Ying or Xue level.
  • If the tongue body also has cracks and there is little or no tongue coat, this usually indicates Deficient Heat due to internal injury.

Pale Tongue Body

  • Indicates the quality of Blood, reflecting Blood and/or Qi Deficiency or Cold.
  • If the tongue body is also moist, tender, and swollen, this can indicate Yang Cold.
  • A pale thin tongue body usually indicates Qi and Blood Deficiency.

Green Tongue Body

  • A green tongue body usually indicates Excess Yin Cold or the presence of a strong Excess evil with weak Zheng Qi. The Yang is not properly moving Blood and Fluids and there is Stagnation in the body.
  • Internal Wind may also present with a green tongue body.

Miley Cyrus - A great example of behavioral changes reflected in the tongue.

Miley Cyrus - A great example of behavioral changes reflected in the tongue.